Having spent over 10 years working with Institutional Review Boards, I became intrigued by the potential for an online compliance management system that was efficient, effective and inexpensive. Based on programming work I had done to help with my course management, I knew I needed a program that would dynamically generate web pages and web forms from a database. My initial efforts resulted in a system that I put to use in my role as IRB Chair for Fairfield University. That initial IRB software has grown into a full-blown research compliance system. Making that system as affordable as it is effective has become the Mission of Axiom Research Compliance.
I was certainly an oddity in my University. Over the years, my course management and faculty reporting systems became the dominant pedagogical and administrative support systems for my campus. Like many of my colleagues, I became frustrated with IT systems and support that could not provide even the simplest services and obvious reporting that faculty and administrative staff needed. Rather than demanding change, I just built it myself. I became the go to person for all manner of data reporting.
Three things drove me forward in what turned out to be a massive stint of programming:
- The intellectual challenges of developing reports and data systems to meet a wide variety of needs. It’s all about the problems of the one and the many and database programming shares some interesting relations to general philosophy. Database and web programming are based on inferential logic. The irony is that as a philosopher, I am more in the school of dialectical logic (Hegel) and it has been demonstrated that dialectical logic is not formalizable, and hence not programmable.
- As a faculty member with some administrative responsibilities and as a programmer, I had a unique perspective on the needs of faculty and staff. I took a great deal of pride in being able to deliver exactly what people needed, particularly in the face of IT staff who not only claimed such things couldn’t be done but genuinely questioned why they needed to be done at all.
- I came to increasingly appreciate the value of service to my colleagues. Meeting others needs with the special talents one has is quite rewarding, and to this day I continue to take delight in being able to offer our software and services to help others improve their own practices.
With the different web modules I had developed, I partnered with industry experts and founded Axiom Education in 2009 to bring this work to market. With funding and a great deal of sweat equity from my partners and Connecticut Innovations, we rebuilt the entire system in the Amazon cloud. This rebuild was a major task and took two years before we brought on our first commercial customers. Since then we have brought on over 50 client institutions world-wide, from university campuses, to American Indian tribes and research centers. Each client is different and we work very hard to make sure that our systems are as flexible as possible to meet their needs. If we don’t have a feature, we build it.
The work closest to my own heart is the world of research involving human subjects. Our IRB system is our most widely used module, and we have subsequently added modules for IACUC, IBC and Grants Management. More recently, we have opened up a new side of the business, providing review services to IRBs. We operate our Remote Protocol Management (RPM) service under the auspices of the client IRB. We leverage our Mentor IRB software to provide high quality and efficient reviewer services.
What ties all this together for me is the ability to provide software and services that improve the work of our client colleagues. The demands of continuous improvement of a complex, commercial system led to Axiom creating a development team…so I don’t program anymore, but I remain the person that translates needs of our clients into the design of the software and the services we provide. We are a “SaaS” company (Software as a Service) and for my part, it is the service that really counts.