Blog | May 1, 2018

4 Can't-Miss Educational Sessions At BIO 2018

Source: Life Science Leader
Rob Wright author page

By Rob Wright, Chief Editor, Life Science Leader
Follow Me On Twitter @RfwrightLSL

4 Can’t-Miss Educational Sessions At BIO 2018

Editor’s Note: I will be moderating “Don’t Be Foreign To Foreign Affairs — How To Broker Biopharma Strategic Alliances And Partnerships Between International Stakeholders (Session ID: 21005) on Wednesday, 6/6/2018, from 11 AM – 12 PM ET, in room 252AB, level 2 at the upcoming BIO convention.

As we are a little over a month away from one of our industry’s biggest annual gatherings, the BIO International 2018 Convention in Boston, June 4 – 7, I have begun pinning down my schedule for which educational sessions I plan to attend. This always has been a challenge for me, as BIO typically has tons of great educational content.

As I built my plan, I wondered, “Which sessions would I not be willing to miss?” (Please keep in mind that just because other sessions aren’t listed among my list doesn’t make them any less valuable; like you, I have my own reasons for wanting to attend a particular gathering.) Here’s my list. Should you have a suggestion for “a can’t-miss session” at this year’s #BIO2018 meeting, please feel free to include it as a comment below.

“Seeing Both Sides: What are Partners Looking for from Innovative Biotechs?”

(ID – 21205), Monday, 6/4/2018, 2:30 - 3:45 PM, room 252AB, level 2.

Beyond the topic, what attracted me to this session was the fact that the panel has three high-level panel members (four if you include the moderator) — all hailing from industry. Personally, I am typically attracted to sessions that have executives of VP level or higher, as these folks often seem more willing to take a stand on a particular subject, or even openly and passionately disagree with fellow panelists. Anytime you can get an executive with current or former Big Pharma experience [i.e., Jose Carlos (JC) Gutiérrez-Ramos, Ph.D., current president and CEO of Synlogic, but formerly of Pfizer, ) on the same panel with an executive who spent much of their career in smaller biopharma (i.e., Michael Gilman, Ph.D., chairman and CEO of Arrakis Therapeutics) there is the potential for some interesting dialogue. But when you throw in an industry legend like Deborah Dunsire, M.D., who just this year added serving on the board of Alexion Pharmaceuticals to her CV, it will test the abilities of even the most skilled of moderators. Let’s hope Sanofi-Genyzme’s Adam Keeney is up to the task. These leaders plan to share insights for the characteristics of discovery platforms, technologies and drug candidates that are attractive for industry collaborations with larger drug partners.

“Rethinking the Biotech Business Model: New Approaches to Funding and Focus”

(ID – 21163) Wednesday, 6/6/2018, 1:45 - 2:45 PM, room 252AB, level 2

I admit to having a bias for any educational session that includes a bunch of CEOs, of which this session boasts three: Neil Kumar, Ph.D., CEO of BridgeBio; Alvin Shih, M.D., CEO of Enzyvant; and Greg Verdine, Ph.D., president and CEO of FOG Pharma. Their combined educational backgrounds include Alabama, Columbia, Harvard, Mass General, MIT, Northwestern, and Stanford. While such educational pedigrees would likely intimidate most moderators, I doubt this will be the case for John Carroll, editor-in-chief at Endpoints News, who brings 38 years of journalism experience to the session. The goal of this panel is to engage leaders of “nontraditional biotechs” in discussing the market conditions that necessitated a different funding approach, and explore how their specific tactics can potentially bring therapies to patients that might otherwise not see the light of day. I’m guessing there will plenty of useful advice on how other companies might follow their examples. I plan to take a lot of notes at this one.  

“Planning For A Successful Failure”

(ID – 19809) Thursday, 6/7/2018, 10:30 AM - 11:45 AM, room 257AB, level 2

 As one of three BIO Educational Program Planning Committee co-chairs, I have to admit that when I initially saw this session submission, its title had me immediately intrigued. In fact, of the nearly 100 submissions for the Business Development & Finance track, Planning For A Successful Failure ended up rating in the top four! The session’s moderator is John Dougherty, J.D., a partner at Haug Partners LLP, who this year was rated by The Wall Street Journal as one of the best lawyers in New York City. A trial lawyer who concentrates his practice on major commercial, civil, and product safety matters, Dougherty has nearly 25 years of experience representing public and private companies in federal and state courts, as well as national and international arbitration forums. And that’s just the moderator! Now let’s look at the speakers who have the pleasure of being cross examined by Dougherty. Christine Carberry, is the current COO at Keryx Biopharmaceuticals, and has more than 30 years (25 at Biogen) of biopharmaceutical leadership experience in technical operations and strategic plan execution. A certified strategic alliance professional (CSAP), her experience includes R&D and life cycle management for commercial medicines, and pipeline building through the asset assessment and integration. Don Morrisey, J.D., is the executive director as SRS Acquiom, a company providing professional services for buyers and sellers in M&A transactions. A principal author of life science studies and frequent speaker at industry events, Morrisey spent more than a decade growing venture-backed life science startups through IPOs, and served as SVP of corporate development and general counsel at Replidyne prior to joining SRS. Jason Steinhart, J.D., is the AVP and associate general counsel at Sanofi US. In his role, Steinhart manages a wide variety of complex product liability and commercial disputes. The session description notes how collaboration, acquisition, and license agreements are often written with an optimistic view of the chances for commercial success. But such agreements also can neglect to clarify the parties’ expectations in the event of program failure, delay, or disagreement. The panel intends to share insight around how to anticipate and avoid costly disputes during the following three critical stages: 1) deal formation and exchange of terms, 2) post-closing operations and integration, and 3) formal disputes. I believe this will be a killer session, especially if everyone involved can share some anecdotes.

Though there are a number of other sessions I have plans to attend, I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you more about the people involved in the session I will be moderating.

“Don’t Be Foreign To Foreign Affairs

My session includes a stellar lineup. For starters, we have Sophie Kornowski-Bonnet, Ph.D., who is the head of Roche partnering and a member of the company’s executive committee. I actually met Kornowski-Bonnet at last year’s annual BIO meeting in San Diego, and interviewed her for the cover feature of Life Science Leader’s November 2017 issue. A French national who completed her Ph.D. in pharmacy in Paris, her career path wound through Chicago, New York , back to Paris, Israel, and Basel, Switzerland. You can read more about The Intriguing Career Path Of Roche's Head Of Partnering at Life Science Leader’s online -exclusive section — Beyond The Printed Page. Considering the number of international deals she spearheads in her position at Roche, she will likely have a lot of wisdom worth sharing. Next we have Gideon Bollag, Ph.D., CEO of Plexxikon, which is now a member of Daiichi Sankyo. In a presession planning call, Bollag shared that his area of expertise resides in the successful execution once an international deal has been done. Armon Sharei, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of SQZ Biotechnologies, a company aiming to use the squeeze mechanism to power cells to fight diseases, including cancer and autoimmune diseases. The concept was featured in Scientific American (2014) as one of the year’s Top 10 World Changing ideas, and the notoriety led to Sharei being featured in a number of publications, including Inc. and Forbes. The final panelist is Sander van Deventer, M.D., Ph.D., operating partner at Forbion, a leading European venture capital firm. During a pre-session planning call we discussed the critical role he has played in the development of the first commercial monoclonal antibody (Remicade) and the first gene therapy to be granted market authorization in the Western world (Glybera), but we also chatted about a partnership in which he has been involved that involve the likes of Abbott, Amgen, J&J, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, Takeda, and most recently, uniQure. People will be hard pressed to find a more qualified panel capable of discussing how to broker (and execute) biopharmaceutical strategic alliances between international stakeholders.

Again, if you have a suggestion for “a can’t-miss session” at this year’s upcoming meeting, please be sure to include it in the comment section below.

I look forward to engaging and exchanging business cards with you at #BIO2018!