P95’s Journey From Epidemiology Consulting to Comprehensive CRO | Ampersand Capital

P95’s Journey From Epidemiology Consulting to Comprehensive CRO


P95's Journey From Epidemiology Consulting to Comprehensive CRO

Thomas Verstraeten, MD, P95 co-founder

With a background in pharmacovigilance and epidemiology, Thomas Verstraeten, MD, was ready to embark on a new chapter and business venture after spending over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry. In 2011, he co-founded P95 with his wife, Adriana Bastidas. Initially an epidemiology consulting service with a focus on "Turning Data into Evidence," P95 has since grown into a global Contract Research Organization (CRO) specializing in clinical and epidemiology research solutions focused on vaccines and infectious diseases.

Today, the P95 team comprises over 200 professionals from diverse disciplines such as study management, clinical operations, regulatory, medical affairs, epidemiology, pharmacovigilance, biostatistics, data science, medical writing, technical operations, quality assurance and IT engineering. With headquarters in Leuven, Belgium, and regional hub offices in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Johannesburg, South Africa, Bogota, Colombia, and Bangkok, Thailand, P95 operates in over 25 countries, highlighting its global reach and capacity to conduct clinical trials in various regions.

p95 Logo

Over the past 13 years, P95 has transitioned from a strictly observational research CRO into a comprehensive full service phase I-IV CRO, servicing renowned pharmaceutical companies like Takeda, Pfizer, and GSK. These services encompass all stages of study conduct including protocol design, site identification, trial execution, biometrics, and reporting for both clinical trials and Real-World Evidence (RWE) studies.

Meeting the Rising Demand for Epidemiology Expertise

Reflecting on P95's growth, Tom comments, "The demand for epidemiology skyrocketed due to the COVID pandemic and other global disease outbreaks, which prompted large-scale pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical companies that previously managed such work internally to seek external support and expertise from trusted resources like P95."

Benoit Bouche, P95 Chairman

Benoit Bouche, P95's Chairman and accomplished CRO leader, emphasizes, "The vaccine R&D market, along with the rising prominence of mRNA technology stemming from the COVID pandemic, has been growing at a double-digit pace. Large-scale CROs often lack the necessary specialization and agility required to support the intense demand for clinical vaccine development. P95, with its reputation for deep expertise and flexibility in providing customized client services, stands out in this landscape."

A Shared Vision of Strategic Partnerships and Growth

Following many years of rapid growth, Tom and the P95 team were poised and ready to expand beyond observational services and expand their clinical research capabilities. The partnership with Ampersand Capital Partners in early 2023 presented an opportunity to accelerate P95's growth strategy. Tom explains, "Ampersand stood out from other investors due to its extensive network in the life sciences sector. They brought forth an actionable plan and ideas for new partnerships and growth opportunities that aligned perfectly with our strategic vision and aspirations for growth."

Ampersand helped identify a new growth opportunity, facilitating the merger of OnQ Research, led by CEO Catherine Lund, with P95 in October 2023. The partnership expands P95’s geographical range to Africa and enhances its portfolio with valuable clinical trial experience. Early in 2024, P95 signed its first contract for a US based observational study and has begun setting up an office in Atlanta, GA. With locations in all major continents, P95 is now more equipped to conduct new studies and explore new markets in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Building New Capabilities to Focus on Client Needs

As P95 looks ahead to the future, its primary focus remains on enhancing its expertise and providing comprehensive CRO services to its clients. Strengthening capabilities such as statistical analysis, medical writing, and data management for clinical trials is a top priority in addition to building new synergies with small to mid-size biotech companies in the US market.

The demand for epidemiology expertise and services is expected to continue growing. Tom comments, "In addition to COVID, there is an astounding need for vaccines to treat infectious diseases on a global scale, such as RSV, influenza, HMPV, and fast-spreading Dengue in and around South America. The demand has no limit, and P95 is ready to rise to the challenge and meet this need."

Mission-Driven Culture and Commitment to Global Health

In a competitive market dominated by large CROs, P95 differentiates itself with versatility and adaptability as part of its “listen first,” client-focused approach. This approach is demonstrated by P95's recent efforts to segment its epidemiology business into specialties, such as viral diseases, bacterial diseases, and non-communicable diseases. "Organizing our support teams and their expertise by disease type directly aligns with our customers' needs and the specialty areas they are working in." This growth by specialization approach, coupled with the ability to easily adapt to customer needs, sets P95 apart from larger CROs,” explains Tom.

Tom, who has been leading P95 since its inception in 2011, believes that his experience in building the company has provided invaluable insights on both a scientific and human level. "Creating and building your own company gives you a 360-degree perspective of the business, leading to new learning experiences and interactions with customers and partners," he says. This has fostered a strong mission-driven and solutions-oriented culture at P95.

Benoit echoes the passion throughout P95, adding, “The entire P95 team is dedicated to playing a significant role in protecting against potential new pandemics and improving access to medical solutions in developing countries, potentially eradicating infections killing millions of people each year.”

Looking back on P95's growth journey, Tom’s greatest enjoyment has been in interacting and collaborating with diverse customers, industry experts, and organizations like the World Health Organization and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "Building new connections, working on impactful projects, and providing life-changing solutions alongside global experts is incredibly inspiring. I’m excited to continue our growth journey and make an even greater impact in Infectious Disease & Vaccine clinical and observational research.”