Verana Health, a platform that’s setting out to help the life sciences industry enhance clinical studies with analytics and data, has raised $30 million in a series C round of funding led by Alphabet’s VC arm GV. The round included participation from Biomatics Capital; GE Ventures; Lagunita Biosciences; and Brook Byers, cofounder of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers.
The company has been known as DigiSight Technologies since its inception in 2008, but alongside today’s funding news it has also unveiled a new name.
Verana Health said that it meshes analytics with “longitudinal” electronic health record (EHR) data to support the development of new pharmaceuticals and devices. Though its long-term plan is to support multiple health care specialties, it will first focus on eye care. It will initially use EHR data from the American Academy of Ophthalmology’s IRIS registry on eye diseases, though it plans similar tie-ups to gain access to clinical databases from other medical bodies in the future.
Launched in 2014, the IRIS (Intelligent Research in Sight) registry features contributions from more than 10,000 ophthalmology clinicians who have registered to contribute patient data electronically, covering 50 million patients across 211 million visits. Verana Health started to develop its data platform in 2017 after it was chosen by the American Academy of Ophthalmology — an association of eye physicians and surgeons — to develop commercial applications from the registry data.
“The data collected in the IRIS registry is a tremendous resource that can be leveraged to advance patient care and scientific knowledge,” noted Dr. David W. Parke II, CEO of the American Academy of Ophthalmology. “Working with Verana gives us the opportunity to realize the potential of the IRIS registry and protect patient sight by empowering drug and device innovators and physicians through data insights.”
The main problem Verana Health is seeking to fix is the cost and length of time it takes to get new medical devices and therapeutics to market. By analyzing billions of data points, Verana Health said that it can help life scientists gain greater insights into patient needs so they can “optimize drug and device development from clinical research through to post-commercialization,” according to a statement issued by the company. In real terms, it wants to speed up trials by refining the study parameters and improving patient targeting.
Verana Health had previously raised around $15 million in funding, and with another $30 million chunk of cash it plans to double down on efforts to bring its health care data platform to more areas of medicine.
Alongside its funding, Verana Health announced the appointment of new CEO Miki Kapoor, who joins from health care data company Tea Leaves Health. Existing CEO Doug Foster is stepping into the role of chief strategy officer.
“Health care in the United States is evolving quickly in response to the unprecedented availability of data,” Kapoor said. “Verana Health has assembled a group of leading health care investors with expertise in big data applications, and a deep bench of talented, experienced health care and technology professionals. I am excited to lead this team as we build intelligent data solutions that provide actionable insights for industry and physicians alike.”
GV has been making an increasing number investments in life sciences, having recently joined Kleiner Perkins in a $21 million funding round in AI health care startup Viz.ai. Elsewhere, GV also invested in machine learning medical research startup Owkin, vaccine development startup SpyBiotech, and clinical trial technology company Science 37.
“Verana Health generates highly differentiated, deep clinical insights for ophthalmology, creating significant new opportunities for patients, physicians, and the pharmaceutical industry at large,” noted GV general partner Dr. Krishna Yeshwant. “With the strong technical backgrounds and health care expertise of the executive team, the company is well positioned to transform the way data is leveraged to further innovation in eye care and other health care sectors.”