Wednesday, December 23, 2009

'Tis the season

'Tis the season for digging out from under and clearing off the piles and the clutter. 'Tis the season for looking back at the year that flew and planning ahead for a year that's new.

At FasterCures, we will launch our new strategic plan in the coming months, an effort to help us "stay in our lane" and focus on much needed outcomes towards accelerating medical solutions. As FasterCures board member Larry Flax has said, "That which gets measured gets done."

As we further define our strategic priorities and implement outcomes-driven programs, here’s a preview of what’s on our agenda for 2010:
  • Fostering innovation and accountability in medical research.
  • Creating a more informed, transparent, and results-oriented marketplace for medical philanthropy.
  • Empowering patients to play an active role in clinical research.
  • Exploring and expanding opportunities at the Food and Drug Administration for acceleration of cures.
  • Strengthening medical research tools (e.g., electronic health records, biobanks) to better support a more effective and efficient health cures system.
We look forward to hearing from you in the new year, and working with you to advance our mission of saving lives by saving time. Wishing everyone health and a multitude of outcomes that advance cures in the new year.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Putting Cures on the Health Reform Agenda

by Margaret Anderson, Executive Director, FasterCures

For months, we've all heard arguments from all sides about how best to improve our health care system. Many of the solutions that have surfaced have focused on curbing costs and improving quality of care - unarguably critical issues that need to be addressed. As the marathon search for solutions is approaching sprint speed, we at FasterCures wanted to share that the search for cures has made it on the agenda. Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) introduced the Cures Acceleration Network (CAN) Act of 2009 as an amendment (SA 2866) to the health reform bill in the Senate.

The Specter amendment seeks to expedite the time it takes to turn a scientific discovery into an accessible, life-saving therapy by establishing CAN within the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health. Among the functions of the CAN are to:
  • conduct and support revolutionary advances in basic research, translating scientific discoveries from bench to bedside;
  • award grants and contracts to eligible entities to accelerate the development of high need cures;
  • provide the resources necessary for government agencies, independent investigators, research organizations, biotechnology companies, academic research institutions, and other entities to develop high need cures;
  • reduce the barriers between laboratory discoveries and clinical trials for new therapies; and
  • facilitate review in the Food and Drug Administration for the high need cures funded by the CAN.
We need to do a better job of translating promising scientific research into new means of preventing and treating disease. Otherwise, we will not be able to contain health care costs, improve productivity and prevent human suffering. Unless we invest in an effective medical research enterprise as part of an effort to improve our health system, we are limiting ourselves to stop-gap measures that will be unsustainable in the long-term.

For all the human and financial capital flowing through our healthcare system, there remains a formidable list of diseases for which there are no cures or even meaningful treatment options. And yet, it can take nearly two decades to turn a research discovery into a medical solution. Our need for cures has never been greater.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

FasterCures Names Margaret Anderson Executive Director

WASHINGTON (December 15, 2009) – FasterCures, an organization committed to saving lives by saving time in the research, discovery and development of new medical solutions, today announced the appointment of Margaret Anderson as its Executive Director. Anderson will lead the organization, defining its strategic priorities and positions on key issues, developing its programmatic portfolio, and managing its operations.

Prior to her appointment as Executive Director, Anderson was FasterCures’ COO for five years. Since its inception in 2003, FasterCures, the Washington-based center of the Milken Institute, has worked independently and with partners to break down the barriers that exist across the research continuum—from basic research to drug development—to clear the path to faster medical progress. These include the following programs: the Philanthropy Advisory Service, an online information marketplace designed to make philanthropic investment in medical research more effective and productive; “TRAIN” (The Redstone Acceleration and Innovation Network), established to create opportunities for medical research innovators to discuss and tackle the challenges that cut across diseases; and PHD (Patients Helping Doctors), an effort aimed to empower patients to contribute to medical research.

“Margaret has been a steady and inspirational leadership force at FasterCures for years," said Michael Klowden, President and CEO of the Milken Institute. "She's been instrumental in developing and implementing strategies that set the organization apart. And she has the unique combination of knowledge, leadership abilities and enthusiasm it takes to energize the biomedical research community.

"The FasterCures mission is to facilitate a medical research culture that encourages innovation and collaboration, operates efficiently and transparently, and - most importantly - gets results. Margaret has proven herself to be the right person to get this done in her new leadership position," added Klowden.

Most recently, FasterCures convened the inaugural Partnering for Cures meeting in New York City, the first‐of‐its‐kind effort that brought together philanthropy, medical research foundations, and the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries in an effort to forge strategic collaborations needed to expedite the search for cures.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Monday, December 7, 2009

Partnering for Cures Coverage Highlights

Maria Bartiromo, anchor of CNBC's Closing Bell, speaks with Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, FDA deputy commissioner; Dr. Gail Cassell, Eli Lilly & Co. vice president for scientific affairs and Michael Milken, FasterCures chairman about preventing chronic disease, investing in innovation, putting a cost on cures, ensuring access, and forecasting the promise of healthcare reform. View interview.
From the blogosphere:

Medical Research Leaders Explore Novel Strategies to Expedite the Search for Cures

NEW YORK (December 2, 2009) – Nearly 600 medical research executives, scientists, policy makers, and funders today convened to explore novel development approaches and innovative funding strategies at the inaugural Partnering for Cures meeting.

FasterCures, the Washington-based center of the Milken Institute, convened Partnering for Cures to facilitate multi-sector collaborations needed to turn a scientific discovery into an accessible therapy. This effort unites the power of philanthropy, passion of nonprofit disease organizations, and the expertise of biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies.

“With all the financial and human capital flowing through America’s medical system, there are still too many diseases for which there are no cures or effective treatments. We want to help change that,” said Margaret Anderson, Executive Director of FasterCures. “One of our goals for this effort is to catalyze a more effective and efficient medical research enterprise through more strategic and timely allocation of critical resources.”

Partnering for Cures highlighted best practices in the conduct and management of medical research and outcomes-oriented approaches that could streamline the process. It provided participants with a unique opportunity to learn first-hand from cure entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders who are producing dramatic results for patients, from cystic fibrosis and multiple myeloma to malaria and HIV.

“We believe the incentives of all the stakeholders in medical research can be better aligned to produce the result all are working towards – value and benefit for patients. This effort helps facilitate this alignment.” added Anderson.

The meeting featured more than 80 of the most forward-thinking leaders spotlighting solutions to decades-long challenges facing the medical research system, 42 medical research foundations presented their research portfolio and development strategies, and a partnering system that facilitated one-on-one connections between participants.

About FasterCures
FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions is committed to saving lives by saving time in the research, discovery and development of new treatments for deadly and debilitating diseases. FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, is nonpartisan, nonprofit and independent of interest groups. For more information, visit

Video highlights and session summaries available at