Monday, January 5, 2009

FasterCures’ Ten to Watch in 2009: Bigger Bang for Our Research Bucks

  1. Philanthropic capital. In this economic environment, investors are going to be more careful with their for-profit and their philanthropic investments. Nonprofit organizations – and particularly those that fund medical research, which requires significant dollars – need to embrace this moment to demonstrate their value. Is your organization ready to provide transparent and relevant information about your practices and results to help donors evaluate their investments?
  2. Big pharma business model. Goldman Sachs is putting money into creating a “research pool” of early-stage products from a number of pharmaceutical companies. The discussion on how to build a business model around the targeted therapies of personalized medicine is getting more focused and serious. Is the veil lifting from big pharma’s eyes?
  3. Stem cells. Forget about the politics, it’s time to talk about the science and the process. Now the urgent questions are how prepared are we to review, approve, and use stem cell therapies?
  4. Cure entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurship has attracted copious scholarship, media attention, and financial resources to support innovative approaches to solving social problems over the last decade. Now cure entrepreneurs, those pursuing novel approaches to accelerating the process of treating and curing disease, want to get in on the action. Can we create an ecosystem of human, intellectual, and financial capital to support the work of these innovators?
  5. NIH U. The National Institutes of Health spends $3 billion every year supporting the work of about 6000 scientists in its Intramural Research Program (IRP), largely on its campus in Bethesda, MD. The IRP is an underutilized weapon in the arsenal of the U.S. biomedical research effort. NIH should articulate an overarching mission for the IRP and strategies for meeting goals over the next five years, focused specifically on advancing translational and clinical research in the interest of public health.
  6. Patient power. The Internet empowered patients with information, and now social networking is taking it to the next level. What’s the power of informed patients gathering online to share their information and experiences? Can it help drive the agenda and speed up the pace of medical research?
  7. Effective comparisons. There will be a lot of talk during the coming healthcare reform debate about comparative effectiveness. But we’re more interested in effective comparisons. A more efficient way of managing diabetes is a separate debate from a more effective option to treat cancer. Comparative effectiveness research should be about patient access to optimal care and continued medical innovation as solutions to healthcare challenges. Track developments of the Partnership to Improve Patient Care, a new group focused on addressing this.
  8. Global health as foreign policy. We think that the President-elect gets that global health is not simply charity or aid and cannot be relegated to goodwill ambassadors. It is an unwavering commitment to medical research and access to cures that will end death and suffering. Global health done right demonstrates our leadership and diplomacy and is key to how we move forward on issues like national security, climate change, and trade.
  9. Health IT: Stop talking, start typing. It’s long since time to face the reality that information technology will permeate healthcare with or without the right policies in place. So we might as well manage it from day one to make sure it’s accessible, integrated, and interoperable. We are after all building an infrastructure for 21st Century healthcare. We are all aching for a nationwide health information system that can improve patient care AND enable medical research.
  10. Citizen action. This is the year of civic involvement. Americans are answering President-elect Obama’s call to be involved in a public way. How do we channel this activism to improve health? Can we inspire people to not only walk for cancer but to participate in a clinical trial or contribute in other ways to science?


Bob C said...

RE yout top ten: my typing to Tom Daschle's Dept of Health & Human Services (Obama-Biiden Transition Team) was ccompletd by the deadline Sunday. Was yours?

Bob C Sherman TX

MedVC said...

Another critical issue in healthcare innovation -- prioritizing the highest value among medical research, inventions and innovations. We need a strategic framework to help foundations, academics, clinicians and venture capital do this well.

Few resources exist in this area, but here's the one that I've downloaded, reviewed and consult often. MIT and Harvard Medical School with their CIMIT and Catalyst programs have a fantastic start in this presentation by Zen Chu - the best one to lend the framework, specific tactics and case studies to help physicians and clinical researchers prioritize and innovate:

Inventing High Impact & High Value Clinical Innovations

A video of the presentation can be found here: