Medidata Solutions co-founder Glen de Vries dies in plane crash
Glen de Vries, the co-founder of the clinical IT software giant Medidata Solutions, died in a plane crash last week.
Emergency crews found the wreckage of a Cessna 172 in a wooded area in northern New Jersey on Thursday. De Vries was an instrument-rated private pilot, though authorities have not yet said who was piloting the plane. He was with his flight instructor Thomas Fischer, 54, and the plane was headed to Sussex Airport from Essex County Airport in Caldwell. He had started his private pilot training with Fischer in February 2016. Fischer opened the flight school with his wife Jodi in March 2012.
The crash comes just a month after de Vries, 49, got the chance to take a 10-minute flight to space aboard Jeff Bezos’ spaceship with “Star Trek” actor William Shatner. Blue Origin’s Twitter account said that the team was “devastated” to learn of his death:
We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries. He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired. pic.twitter.com/1hwnjntTVs
— Blue Origin (@blueorigin) November 12, 2021
A trained molecular biologist, de Vries earned his bachelor’s degree from Carnegie Mellon University and sat on its board at the time of his death.
In 1999, de Vries co-founded Medidata with Tarek Sherif pitching software that drug companies can use for running and tracking clinical data in the cloud, a mission that directly challenged tech giant Oracle at the time. The concept helped companies slash drug costs, and de Vries hand-coded Medidata’s original software. He came up with the idea shortly after graduating from Carnegie Mellon when he was working at New York’s Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital and helping with a clinical trial.
“We really were looking at Amazon,” de Vries told Business Insider in 2014. “If you can get to Amazon.com and buy a book, presumably that’s secure, it’s efficient, why can’t we be doing clinical trials that way?”
The company was bought by Dassault in 2019 for $5.8 billion.
He was so fascinated with Japanese culture that once Medidata started doing business there that he taught himself the language, and played lead guitar in a band he formed with friends in 1995, his obituary said. Inspired by his mother’s ballroom dancing ability, he became a dancer himself and wrote a book titled The Patient Equation about the future of medicine.
Fischer had been the subject of a four-part series for Popular Mechanics about the author’s attempts at learning to fly. In 2009, he was lauded after successfully landing a Cessna aircraft in the parking lot of the Rockaway Townsquare Mall with a student pilot aboard. An oil leak caused the engine of the plane to shut down, forcing an emergency landing.