A Noble Cause

Scott Uebele ’00 protects patient rights
by Katie Williard
UP UNTIL 1979, unknowing victims of the medical industry suffered for science — most notably in the famous thalidomide scandal and the USPHS Syphilis Study at Tuskegee. It wasn’t until the release of the Belmont Report by the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research that year that subjects’ rights were legally protected.

Scott Uebele ’00 helps see to it that those protections remain at the forefront of medical research. In his role as chief operating officer at Advarra, he is responsible for strategy and operations for review services, including its institutional review board (IRB) work, the flagship function of the company. “It’s human research protection,” he says. “If you’re involved in clinical research, you have to agree to be a willing participant.” The IRB oversees all facets of documentation and provides proof that the guiding principles set by the Belmont Report are being upheld: respect for persons, beneficence and justice.

Scott Uebele headshot
Photo: courtesy of Advarra
Scott Uebele ’00 supports the development of safer, smarter clinical research.
Uebele, who was an economics major and first-generation college student, also leads other initiatives including the institutional biosafety committee, consulting services and Advarra’s customer success teams. He consistently sees the benefit of his interdisciplinary, liberal arts education. “It made me adaptable,” he says. “It gave me the perspective to look at things differently — to not be rooted in a singular thought process.”

Uebele believes deeply in the company’s mission. “What we’re built on is really noble,” he says. “It’s about protecting people.” For example, Advarra is working on a pediatric glaucoma project. In addition to overseeing regulatory adherence, the company’s work with community advocates resulted in identifying the need for a smaller gauge needle for the testing procedure. “Little things like this are part of a feedback loop aimed at making a positive difference in the child’s experience,” Uebele says. “That matters.”

In addition to its work as an IRB, Advarra has a technology arm to build software to help facilitate clinical trials. It also has a division focused on investigator and patient training, which creates animations that increase the adoption of materials through instructional design. “We’re taking care of a real purpose,” Uebele says. “We’re working in an industry that’s trying to facilitate cures while ensuring clients protect trial participants. We take that very seriously.”