Dr. Dennis Gillings, co-founder and chairman of Quintiles, wasn’t in the Triangle on Saturday but no doubt a certain date was on his mind.

Feb. 26, 1982.

That’s when Gillings, who was a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Dr. Gary Koch, also a UNC professor, launched a company called Quintiles.

Since then the firm launched by two professors of statistics as a consulting firm focused on data has grown into the world’s largest life science services firm with 25,000 employees spread across 60 countries. Launched as a private firm that went public on Wall Street, the company is private held once more.

Of those workers, 1,700 are based in the Triangle where Quintiles maintains its global headquarters. Its towering HQ building alongside I-40 opened in 2009. Another 300 people work elsewhere in the state.

How big has Quintiles become?

“If you take any prescription drug, chances are Quintiles helped develop or commercialize it in some fashion,” says Phil Bridges, director of corporate communications.

Quintiles Roots

Quintiles traces its roots to when a drug company hired Gillings as a consultant for a biostatistical analysis of clinical trial data for a diabetes drug. Today, Quintiles offers a wide variety of services to pharmaceutical and other life science firms as well as investment capital.

“Providing clinical, commercial, consulting and capital, Quintiles’ influence is evidenced in the fact that it helped develop or commercialize all of the top 50 best-selling products or compounds in 2010 and can make similar claims for at least the past 10 years,” the company says.

By the way, Koch is still involved with Quintiles.

“Dr. Koch continues to consult for Quintiles and is a professor of biostatistics in the Gillings School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina,” Bridges said. “Additionally, he serves as Director, Biometric Consulting Laboratory, Department of Biostatistics at UNC.”

“Making a Difference”

Gillings, who was traveling and unavailable for comment on Monday, noted the anniversary in a statement:

“We created Quintiles 30 years ago with the intent of building an information management consultancy. Yet, even in the earliest days, we recognized that Quintiles could make a difference in people’s lives. Today, millions, if not billions of people have been impacted by our work.

“With the success that Quintiles has seen over the past three decades, I believe we have a responsibility not only to our customers, but more importantly to patients. All the work we do has the common goal of producing healthy outcomes for patients. Our mantra has long been, ‘If it’s right for the patient, it’s right for Quintiles.

“What we’ve achieved is extraordinary, yet, what really excites me is the future because Quintiles has the potential to do so much more. We’re involved in the development of products for the treatment of Alzheimer’s, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and vaccines for a plethora of infectious diseases such as malaria and influenza.

“Today, we help save, lengthen and improve people’s lives. I’m excited by the opportunities that will emerge over the next 30 years,” Gillings continues. “As Gandhi once said, ‘the difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing …would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.’ We want Quintiles to play a pivotal role in solving some of those problems.”

[QUINTILES ARCHIVE: Check out years of Quintiles stories as reported in WRAL Tech Wire by clicking here.]

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