Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Top Innovators in Medical Research Come Together To Find Cures

3rd Annual Partnering for Cures Meeting Focuses on Collaborative Approaches to Speeding R&D

New York – November 8, 2011. More than 800 leaders from across all sectors in medical research – philanthropists and investors; medical research foundations and institutes, biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, academic investigators, payers, and policymakers – gathered today to find partners and forge the alliances necessary to accelerate medical progress.

Hailed as a “game-changing meeting” and medical research’s most outcomes-oriented, and patient-focused event, Partnering for Cures is convened by FasterCures – the Washington, D.C.-based center of the Milken Institute – for the sole purpose of speeding the time it takes to turn discoveries in the lab into therapies for patients.

“Serendipity is not going to cut it anymore. Turning scientific discoveries into better health requires all stakeholders in the medical research system to work together,” said Margaret Anderson, executive director of FasterCures. “This effort allows stakeholders to easily find each other, share ideas openly, develop concrete solutions, and create lasting partnerships.”

This year, 30 cross-sector partnerships took center-stage and presented novel approaches to commercialization, academic translational efforts, data sharing initiatives, drug repurposing programs, clinical trials innovations, and intellectual property management. These innovative programs pave a path forward that could yield results that will improve and save the lives of millions of patients.

“Translating the science that comes out of basic laboratories is the greatest challenge and opportunity we are facing,” said biotechnology serial entrepreneur John Mendlein of Fate Therapeutics/aTyr Pharma during the opening plenary. “The good news is that we are witnessing a transformative time--there has never been such an intense focus on collaboration as we are witnessing now.”

Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner, noted in this plenary discussion that “the agency needs to find ways to come together with strong science, industry leadership, and patients to identify opportunity and seek regulatory flexibility.”

Susan Desmond-Hellmann, Chancellor of the University of California, San Francisco, said that to speed the drug development process, we need to “pay more attention to surrogate endpoints and intermediate indicators of success, and not waiting for the final or perfect solution.” She urged that “scientists need to be exposed to the clinic so they better appreciate the urgency felt by patients, families, and their doctors.”

Now in its third year, Partnering for Cures connects innovators and inventors across sectors, diseases, and disciplines and provided a platform to share collaborative solutions. With 16 panels and 90 speakers, the meeting focused on solutions – those that must be developed and those that must be amplified. The meeting also featured a customized partnering system.

It has facilitated industry partnerships that led to commercialization agreements; empowered philanthropists to make more informed investment decisions; enabled medical research foundations to find the right partners and investors; and engaged academia to incorporate new business models that accelerate the research and development process.

About FasterCures:
FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions is a nonprofit think tank and catalyst for action that works across sectors and diseases to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the medical research enterprise. A center of the Milken Institute, it is nonpartisan and independent of interest groups. For more information, visit http://www.fastercures.org/.

For more information, contact:
Cecilia Arradaza
Communications Director, FasterCures

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Think Medical Research, But Think Smart

by Margaret Anderson, Executive Director, FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions

We all know that philanthropic capital is uniquely positioned to play a powerful role in medical research. But fewer of us are aware of the importance of appropriately leveraged capital in creating impact and advancing promising research.

In 2010, philanthropies in the United States invested over $1.1 billion dollars in medical research. While an impressive number, it represents just 2.3 percent of the $140 billion invested by government, industry, and other groups in health and medical research that year. While funding for medical research has been growing incrementally on a year-to-year basis, public and private budgets are under increasing pressure, leaving a lot of promising research underfunded. In these tough times, therefore, it's more important than ever that we focus on doing more with our philanthropic dollars by investingsmarter.

Leading the flow of "passion capital" into medical research are a relatively new type of philanthropic entity known as "venture philanthropies" — organizations of a philanthropic nature that operate in a venture-capital mode. In addition to bringing a sense of urgency to the medical research community, venture philanthropies and the medical research organizations they partner with are beginning to change the financial infrastructure of medical research by providing risk capital for innovative research at critical (and traditionally underfunded) stages of drug development. These investments are also succeeding at drawing in more traditional capital, including public investment, which further leverages the original funds by expanding the pool of available capital at critical stages. Venture philanthropies also play another important role, as their close relationships with patient communities enhance their understanding of and expertise in specific diseases, resulting in forward-thinking research programs focused on reducing the overall impact of disease and solving problems most commonly faced by patients.

The fact that venture philanthropies are proving to be major players in the medical research arena does not mean that all foundations and philanthropic entities need to adopt the venture funding model in order to make meaningful investments that advance the medical research field. Indeed, at FasterCures we believe it is better to focus one's philanthropic resources on building a medical research investment portfolio that is strategic, intelligent, and...smart. And we want to help. To that end, we've created a pair of giving guides: Getting Started: The Medical Research and Development Primer and Giving Smarter: Building a High-Impact Medical Philanthropy Portfolio. Both are designed to help foundations and individual philanthropists better understand the medical research process, identify critical funding gaps, and explain the unique role of medical philanthropy in accelerating cures. They will also assist you in defining your organization's philanthropic priorities, evaluating the potential impact of your investments based on established criteria, and articulating the key questions you need to ask any research team, company, or nonprofit institution you are thinking about supporting or investing in.

In addition to our publications, we are continuing to facilitate the flow of philanthropic capital into medical research by convening major stakeholders at our annual meeting, Partnering for Cures, which this year will be held November 6-8, in New York City. At this year's meeting, more than eight hundred venture capitalists, philanthropists, policy makers, biotechnology and pharmaceutical company executives, patient advocates, and medical researchers will gather for a series of engaging panels and one-on-one meetings, with the ultimate goal of advancing the field of biomedical research and finding cures to a range of diseases. Partnering for Cures is uniquely positioned to introduce new and emerging foundations and philanthropists to the fundamentals of medical philanthropy and to provide more seasoned givers with complete due diligence opportunities.

We hope you can be a part of Partnering for Cures — it is a unique effort that promises to jumpstart your due diligence process. We also encourage you to download the toolkit, which we have designed with your needs in mind. And we look forward to your working with us to develop the financial infrastructure and create the outcomes-focused approaches needed if we are to speed up the process of getting to much needed therapies more quickly.

Margaret Anderson is executive director of FasterCures/The Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions, an "action tank" working to improve the medical research system and speed up the time it takes to get important new medicines from discovery to patients. Prior to her appointment as executive director, Anderson was FasterCures' COO for five years, served as deputy director of the Academy for Educational Development, and led programs and studies at the Society for Women's Health Research, the American Public Health Association and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.