During the recent SCOPE Summit Europe 2023, a venue for experts to dissect the complexities of clinical trials, Kieran Whelton from AbbVie took the stage to reveal groundbreaking strategies in utilizing predictive analytics for clinical trial site selection. This article delves into Whelton’s insights and the advanced methodologies presented.

AbbVie Harnessing Predictive Analytics for Site Selection

Whelton commenced by acknowledging the traditional hurdles in clinical trial site selection—often a blend of intuition and historical performance metrics. However, with the advent of predictive analytics, AbbVie is shifting towards a data-driven paradigm. Whelton elucidated the significant strides made in predicting the highest-performing sites by leveraging intricate data sets and sophisticated models to reduce bias and improve trial efficacy.

The Intricacies of Data and Predictive Modeling

A core aspect of Whelton’s presentation was integrating diverse data sources, from country and site metrics to sponsor histories. The challenges are manifold, including data alignment and ensuring relevance to predictive models. Yet, the potential for a refined site selection process is immense, with historical data playing a pivotal role in forecasting site performance, as illustrated by graphs correlating Crohn’s trials with patient enrollment figures.

The Dichotomy of Bespoke vs. Enterprise Solutions at AbbVie

The presentation navigated through the dichotomy of bespoke and enterprise predictive solutions. Whelton provided examples where bespoke models, while tailored and precise, pose challenges in adaptability and complexity. On the other hand, enterprise solutions offer a holistic approach, as depicted in tiering examples where sites are categorized by performance, and tree-based models predict enrollment rates.

The Future Landscape of Predictive Analytics in Trials

Looking forward, Whelton painted a picture of a transformative future where predictive analytics could include AI and natural language processing. He highlighted the importance of model validation using historical data split into training and validation datasets, as well as future enhancements that consider trial saturation and geographical nuances in site performance.

Real-World Implications and Next Steps

Whelton’s insights underline the broader implications of these analytics advancements—not merely enhancing the selection process but also significantly impacting trial efficiency and cost. By adopting such data-driven strategies, AbbVie aims to reduce trial timelines, increase success rates, and ultimately accelerate the development of new therapies.

In the pursuit of optimizing clinical trials, the industry witnesses a paradigm shift with AbbVie at the helm, advocating for a future where predictive analytics is not a mere adjunct but a central pillar in clinical trial site selection.


AbbVie’s presentation at the SCOPE Summit Europe 2023 marks a significant leap in clinical trial methodologies. With a firm gaze set on the horizon, Whelton’s session underscored the transformative potential of predictive analytics in selecting high-performing trial sites, setting a precedent for a more efficient, strategic, and data-centric future in clinical research.

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Moe Alsumidaie Chief Editor
Moe Alsumidaie is Chief Editor of The Clinical Trial Vanguard. Moe holds decades of experience in the clinical trials industry. Moe also serves as Head of Research at CliniBiz and Chief Data Scientist at Annex Clinical Corporation.