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Altasciences: Pioneering Early Drug Development for Over 25 Years

Chris Perkin | CEO | Altasciences
Chris Perkin | CEO | Altasciences

For over 25 years, Altasciences has been a trusted partner for sponsors in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, providing essential support for informed, expeditious, and comprehensive early drug development decisions.

Altasciences offers a comprehensive suite of integrated, full-service solutions tailored to the unique requirements of each sponsor. These encompass preclinical safety testing, clinical pharmacology, proof-of-concept studies, bioanalysis, drug formulation and manufacturing, program management, medical writing, biostatistics, clinical monitoring, data management, and more. This versatility allows the organization to adapt its services to specific sponsor needs, ensuring a tailored approach that facilitates early phase drug development.

The shared objective at Altasciences is clear: to empower sponsors to make informed, faster, and more thorough decisions in the early stages of drug development. This collaborative effort is aimed at safely accelerating progress towards achieving proof of concept and beyond, while also improving the experience and ease of outsourcing drug development research.

Altasciences stands as a prominent, one-stop solution Contract Research Organization (CRO) and Contract Development and Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) with a significant presence spanning nine facilities across Canada and the United States, as well as an office in the UK. This expansive network positions it as a key player in advancing drug development efforts on multiple fronts.

The commitment to excellence exhibited by Altasciences has not gone unnoticed. The organization has consistently received recognition in various categories in the CRO Leadership Awards since 2014. Most notably, Altasciences earned the prestigious title of a 2023 CRO Leadership Award Champion in the Capabilities category. This esteemed recognition is a testament to the organization’s dedication to exceeding customer expectations and consistently delivering services and capabilities that surpass industry standards.

Leading the team at Altasciences as the CEO, Chris Perkin has contributed significantly to the growth of the organization for close to 14 years. With a deep passion for biology, he has been thriving in the industry for almost 50 years and has been instrumental in driving success at the organization.

Insights Care interacted with Chris to gather fascinating details about the organization and his inspiring professional tenure.

Let’s explore the journey of Altasciences in becoming one of the most trusted CROs:

Pioneering Leadership in Drug Development

Chris Perkin’s remarkable journey from a young biology enthusiast to the CEO of Altasciences is a testament to a lifelong passion for science, a deep sense of purpose, and an unwavering commitment to improving lives through drug development. Chris’ journey in the pharmaceutical industry spans nearly five decades, starting as an entry-level scientist. When he joined Altasciences in 2010 as CEO, he had two primary goals. Firstly, he aimed to build a unique outsourcing model that would revolutionize early phase drug development by offering the most efficient, integrated, and comprehensive solution for biopharmaceutical companies worldwide. Chris questioned the traditional approach of contracting different CROs for various phases and services in drug development. He envisioned a single CRO that could seamlessly guide a drug through all early development stages, and he was determined to make this vision a reality with Altasciences.

Secondly, Chris was committed to nurturing the next generation of scientific and managerial talent. While it was fulfilling to contribute significantly to advancing drug sponsors to the next stage, Chris was equally excited about creating a company where individuals could achieve their goals, step out of their comfort zones, and strive for more in their careers. He aimed to inspire and motivate Altasciences’ leaders to surpass their own expectations.

In the early stages of his role as CEO, Chris focused on laying the foundation for transforming the outsourcing paradigm. This involved assembling the right team, strategizing the company’s next steps, and making initial acquisitions. While Altasciences achieved its goal of becoming a one-stop, integrated drug development solution, Chris continued to view his role as preserving the company’s culture and fostering the growth and development of its people. He saw himself as the catalyst for bringing the right individuals together and ensuring that everyone at Altasciences, regardless of their role, was aligned in the pursuit of a common objective: delivering better drugs to those in need, faster.

One of Chris’ most cherished aspects of building Altasciences was and continues to be the process of finding like-minded individuals who share a vision for the industry, and who want to work collaboratively to turn that vision into reality.

In 2019, Chris was honored with the prestigious Red Jacket Award by PharmaVoice. This award represents a lifetime recognition and is conferred upon individuals who have consistently demonstrated outstanding leadership and innovation in the life sciences industry. Chris had previously earned a place among the PharmaVoice 100 Most Inspiring Leaders in the Life Sciences Industry for four consecutive years, showcasing his enduring impact and influence in the field.

Accelerating Early Phase Drug Development

Altasciences’ vision is to be the premier one-stop solution for outsourced early phase drug development, whether it involves a single study or an entire program. The company’s mission revolves around offering clients a streamlined, integrated outsourcing solution, with a strong emphasis on customer service, to eliminate the need for multiple service providers during the critical early stages of drug development. Altasciences is dedicated to helping clients achieve key decision-making milestones more rapidly, enhancing the “speed and ease” from lead candidate selection to clinical proof of concept, all with the overarching goal of delivering better drugs to those who require them, more expeditiously.

As a partner in this journey, Altasciences is committed to building strong relationships through effective communication and a diverse range of capabilities. The company provides scientific guidance and fosters an environment that adds value for clients, respects study participants, ensures the welfare of research animals, and supports the growth of its employees.

One of the company’s defining features is its ability to bring together all traditionally separate early phase drug development phases under a single CRO and CDMO. The company facilitates seamless collaboration between teams and systems and centralizes operations, ensuring that clients never have to repeat themselves as they progress their new drugs through the development process. This consolidation minimizes the need for multiple service providers and streamlines scheduling, financial management, and overall communication, all of which contribute to accelerating the delivery of improved drugs to those in need.

Altasciences views its projects with clients as more than just transactions; they are true partnerships. The company is dedicated to assisting clients in bringing their drugs to market, and its objectives are completely aligned with those of its clients. Altasciences values communication, transparency, dependability, honesty, and rigorous scientific practices. Given its frequent collaboration with sponsors on multiple phases of a program, Altasciences develops a deep understanding of clients and the intricacies of their projects, which enables the company to provide comprehensive support throughout the various stages of early phase drug development. This commitment to moving in unison to make a significant impact with a personal touch exemplifies Altasciences’ approach to its work.

Integrated Approach to Drug Development

Altasciences approaches drug development as a continuous journey rather than a series of disconnected steps managed by different CROs and CDMOs. This integrated model ensures that scientific and operational teams spanning various phases work as a unified team on a sponsor’s project. They leverage data from each other, plan the client’s roadmap collaboratively, and proactively address potential obstacles. By bridging communication gaps between different development stages and departments, Altasciences enables seamless and rapid transitions from one milestone to the next.

From lead candidate selection to clinical proof of concept and beyond, Altasciences offers sponsors multiple entry points for partnership and the flexibility to collaborate across multiple stages of their drug development journey. This integrated approach is aimed at simplifying and streamlining the outsourcing experience. Altasciences refers to this approach as “Proactive Drug Development,” and it’s what distinguishes Altasciences as a unique and innovative drug development solution in the industry.

Reducing Timelines and Advancing Drug Development

Altasciences expedites the drug development process for its clients through its Proactive Drug Development approach, which is based on three core pillars:

  • How they communicate: Tell Us Once™ is Altasciences’ commitment to communication and transparency. The company has developed a proprietary database called “Ask Albert” that facilitates efficient and timely information transfer within the organization. This database collects essential client information and ensures it is readily available across different research phases, locations, and departments. Clients only need to share their information once, and Altasciences takes care of the rest. This approach removes administrative burdens from clients and ensures reliable and timely data transfers.
  • How they bring a project to life: A.T.L.A.S. represents the company’s ability to offer clients a unique opportunity to partner with one CRO/CDMO for all their early phase drug development needs. With a holistic view of a client’s program, Altasciences can proactively anticipate and mitigate program-specific roadblocks, optimizing timelines through time efficiencies like parallel processing. For example, they can start first-in-human trials sooner by coordinating small-scale drug formulations with clinical conduct. Altasciences also provides clients with a dedicated project/program manager, centralized finances, contracts, and scheduling.
  • How they organize ourselves: Altasciences has an integrated organizational structure where all scientific and operational teams report to only two Co-chief Operating Officers. This grassroots level of integration eliminates internal silos, which often impact client timelines.

This comprehensive approach allows Altasciences to reduce its clients’ overall drug development timelines by up to 40%, helping them bring their drugs to market faster.

Fostering Collaboration, Transparency, and Technological Advancements

Chris emphasizes the importance of transparent knowledge sharing as a strategy to foster collaboration and innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry. He suggests that sharing data related to drug development, even for projects that don’t reach the market, could be highly valuable for future drug development efforts. This transparency would enable companies to learn from previous experiences, avoid common issues, and design more efficient drug development programs. Ethically, it could lead to faster advancements in drug development and benefit society as a whole.

Additionally, Chris mentions the significant impact of technology adoption on drug development. Access to data and remote data collection from patients are seen as transformational advancements in the industry. While these technologies have a greater impact in the later stages of drug development, where large numbers of outpatients are involved, they are also influencing first-in-human Phase I and first-in-patient Phase II trials. Electronic data collection software is becoming increasingly sophisticated, reducing the need for manual data review, accelerating decision-making, and providing clients with real-time access to study data, ultimately expediting the reporting process.

Addressing Challenges in Early Drug Development

Chris highlights some of the greatest challenges in early drug development, including issues related to drug formulation, regulatory matters, and unexpected findings during preclinical evaluations. He emphasizes that Altasciences’ integrated approach enables the company to offer comprehensive solutions to clients, helping them navigate these hurdles proactively. The ability to strategically schedule studies to minimize downtime using a centralized scheduling system and provide regular updates on timelines, allows Altasciences to address problems efficiently and demonstrate the value of a full-service integrated CRO/CDMO in resolving various aspects of early drug development.

Advice to Aspiring Research Professionals

Chris’ advice to aspiring biopharmaceutical research professionals is rooted in his own journey of innovation and entrepreneurship within the life science sector. He encourages those who wish to make a difference in the field to challenge the status quo, embrace innovation, persist in the face of skepticism, and build a supportive network of like-minded individuals. His message underscores the importance of daring to think differently and pursuing novel approaches to advance the industry.

Meeting Evolving Client Needs with Strategic Growth

Altasciences has experienced significant growth and expansion over the past five years, driven by a commitment to meeting the evolving needs of its clients. This growth has aligned the company’s services with the requirements and preferences of its partners, based on their feedback.

Between 2020 and 2023, Altasciences made substantial additions to its infrastructure, including:

  • CDMO Facility in Philadelphia: Expanding its capabilities in drug formulation and manufacturing.
  • Third Clinical Unit in Los Angeles (adding to Kansas City and Montréal sites): Enhancing clinical research capacity.
  • Preclinical Facilities: Opening three additional preclinical facilities in Scranton, Sacramento, and Columbia, further strengthening its capabilities in nonclinical research, along with its site in Seattle.
  • Bioanalytical Facilities: Constructing a bioanalytical laboratory at its Columbia facility to bolster its other two laboratories in Seattle and Laval, Québec.

Moreover, the company has undertaken expansion at several existing facilities, with these efforts continuing to support the company’s growth.

Altasciences takes pride in offering clients multiple points of entry and flexible solutions tailored to their specific requirements and preferences. This approach allows clients to access the services they need, precisely when they need them, providing a highly adaptable, buildable, and responsive partnership.

Looking ahead, Chris emphasizes a commitment to maintaining solid relationships with clients. This includes comprehensive, end-to-end programs to maximize the benefits of partnering with Altasciences. Additionally, the company is focused on expanding its presence in Europe, as demonstrated by the opening of an office in the UK in 2022. These strategic initiatives underscore Altasciences’ dedication to supporting its clients in the dynamic field of drug development.



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