On March 16, 2017, women and men from industry and academia gathered at JLABS to learn from experts about the value and challenges of partnerships in immuno-oncology (I-O).
Panel Moderator, Stacy Feld, Vice President of Consumer Venture Investments and External Innovation at Johnson & Johnson Innovation-JJDC, began the evening with an introduction to the growing field: I-O-focused drugs are rapidly becoming the standard of treatment for many cancers, and hundreds of I-O treatments are being evaluated in clinical trials. The opportunities for partnership are myriad, with I-O accounting for more than half of the deals involving private companies.
Next, the panelists, Julie Hambleton, VP and Head of US Medical at Bristol-Myers Squibb; Jane Grogan, Head of Adaptive Tumor Immunity and Principal Scientist in Cancer Immunology Discovery Research at Genentech; and Sylvaine Cases, VP of Oncology Scientific Innovation for Janssen Research & Development and the J&J California Innovation Center, addressed questions about the overall I-O landscape, strategies that small companies and academics can take when approaching a potential partner, and challenges in the field. Dr. Hambleton discussed the challenges of enrolling patients in a competitive environment, along with the need for global trials; and Dr. Grogan also mentioned the possibility of pooling and sharing data among companies. All of the panelists had tips for smaller companies trying to pitch their data; in particular, Dr. Cases noted that, “you need to know what pain point you address – what is this potential partner missing that you can provide?”
As part of the Women’s History Month theme, “Taking Charge of Your Career,” the panelists shared some of their career experiences - all agreeing that the path to success is a winding one. Common themes that emerged were being open to opportunity and having a flexible mindset, being driven by curiosity and a search for the best science, and being bold enough to ask your own questions.
Before and after the panel, panelists and attendees gathered for informal discussions of partnerships and their own career strategies.
Many thanks to the event sponsor, JLABS, for a beautiful evening, to Stacy Feld for her thorough preparation and insightful questions, to all the panelists for their time and input, and to the volunteers and sponsors of Women In Bio. The attendees agreed that this was a stand-out panel discussion, perhaps among the best on this topic.
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