SCCR Fellow Returns to Germany with Clinical Trials Expertise

Driven by his passion for clinical trials, a desire to advance the body of knowledge in the field of cardiology, and an interest in building long-lasting collaborations, Christoph Olivier, MD, uprooted his young family from Freiburg, Germany to pursue a research fellowship at SCCR.

After completing medical school and a cardiology residency at the University of Freiburg, Olivier discussed his strong interest in clinical research with his mentor, Christoph Bode, MD, who told him about two leading clinical researchers in California, Robert Harrington, MD, and Kenneth Mahaffey, MD.  

A successful meeting with Harrington and Mahaffey, Chair of Medicine at Stanford and Director of SCCR respectively, prompted Olivier to apply for the SCCR fellowship.  Olivier’s application was accepted, and he moved to Stanford in July 2016 with his wife and their two-year-old son and seven-week-old daughter.

During the two-and-a-half-year fellowship, which ended in January 2019, Olivier completed three goals. 

“I wanted to have the right tools in my box when I returned to Germany, so I worked on clinical research and clinical trials.  I wanted to cover the whole spectrum of clinical trials—from the conceptual stage through the running phase of the trial to the close-out,” he says.

In addition, he worked on innovative trial methodologies such as the Google Baseline project and the Apple Heart Study.  The work on that study brought him in close contact with Mintu Turakhia, MD, director of the Center for Digital Health, who was an important mentor for Olivier. 

“I also gained experience with data safety monitoring and clinical event adjudication, which are important tools for a clinical trialist,” Olivier adds.

The large bounty of data resulting from various trials is proving valuable for Olivier’s second goal of his fellowship—to add to the body of knowledge in his field. With mounds of data, Olivier is able to perform secondary analysis from the trials he was involved in, which has yielded impressive publishing results.  Olivier led studies based on analysis of data collected during the multicenter EUCLID trial and the CHAMPION percutaneous coronary intervention trials. Those studies have been reported in JAMA Cardiology and International Journal of Cardiology

Working in close collaboration with Stanford researchers, SCCR, and the Center for Digital Health allowed Olivier to make valuable connections that he brought back to Germany. Those connections enabled Olivier to meet his third goal of the fellowship—to begin building lasting relationships between Heart Center Freiburg Universityand Stanford University. 

Olivier says he was invigorated by the work environment at SCCR and eagerly pursued his passion with the aid of “this huge expertise in clinical research where you have exposure to many trials and innovative methodologies.” He found SCCR’s location in the heart of Silicon Valley and its exposure to technology to be an additional benefit to his fellowship experience.

Now back in Germanyto complete his training to become an interventional cardiologist, Olivier’s experiences at SCCR are proving invaluable as he pursues clinical research at Heart Center Freiburg University. The skills he acquired at Stanford will also help as he designs trials for his own research.  

“I intend to take advantage of opportunities in digital health and data mining by leveraging databases in Germany,” he says.