Eric Perakslis - FDA

Tools

FDA's chief IT renovator

Eric Perakslis
Chief information officer and chief scientist of informatics, FDA

The job of FDA's chief information officer had been a revolving door of disappointment before Eric Perakslis took the job in 2011. Now, with more than a year in the top IT post, the informatics ace and cancer survivor has plenty of wins to highlight and a game plan for tackling some major challenges ahead.

In his first months on the job, Perakslis had a government watchdog breathing down his neck about a laggard modernization effort. But he rolled out his plan for updating IT at the agency, pushing projects that could be wrapped up in short order and long-term strategies to keep U.S. regulators equipped with the latest tech tools.

Perakslis, who previously headed R&D informatics at Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), found success early in his tenure with the agency with efficient IT support of the Innovation Pathways 2.0 initiative for speeding regulatory reviews of game-changing medical devices, as he reported on the FDA's blog last year. As much as device advocates rail against Uncle Sam on a number of issues, this initiative drew kudos as a win for both industry and patients.

He sees cloud computing as one way to unshackle the agency's IT crew from managing data centers. And he's pushed to equip FDA field inspectors and others with mobile devices to do their jobs efficiently on the road.

After beating late-stage kidney cancer, Perakslis became a major advocate for expediting breakthroughs to those who need them. As he told FierceBiotechIT last year, his bout with cancer gave him an appreciation for open-source efforts, and he wants the FDA to back collaborative measures to advance science. For instance, he's supporting a platform for sharing massive amounts of liver toxicity data from the agency with the research community.

Given his success to date, Perakslis could be the first CIO with some staying power at the agency in years. But as biopharma giants rejigger R&D at all levels, Perakslis will likely appear on their short lists of candidates to lead IT efforts. 

For more:
FDA updates IT after GAO lashing
FDA's CIO pushes for open source, cloud computing
GAO report: FDA's IT modernization 'in jeopardy'