innovation in pharma

Biotech’s Gentleman Lawyer: Alan Mendelson

Guest: Alan Mendelson, Partner, Latham & Watkins

Bio and Contact Info

Alan Mendelson, a partner at Latham & Watkins, is the first service provider--as opposed to a scientist, entrepreneur, or venture capitalist--to receive one of BayBio’s prestigious Pantheon Lifetime Achievement Awards. We talk to him a month before the awards ceremony which will be held in San Francisco on December 11th, 2014.

Alan’s career took off back in the early 80’s when he incorporated one of the few new biotech companies coming on to the scene. The company: Amgen. Alan gives a great deal of credit to his “mentor”, George Rathman, the legendary first CEO of Amgen who inspired a generation of biotech entrepreneurs.

In the early 2000’s, Alan was one of the first to see signs of the Silicon Valley dot com bust which led to him leave his long time firm, Cooley and Associates, to join Latham & Watkins. In today's wide ranging interview, he shares this and other stories from his career as well as his thoughts on the current biotech marketplace.

“The award means a lot to me,” he says, "it’s been thirty-four years since I first incorporated Amgen. Working with biotech and life science companies, I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to feel that in a small way, I've helped improve the human condition. I’ve had cancer patients tell me that I saved their lives because I worked with Amgen. . . and this is, frankly, why I don’t want to retire.”

Chapters: (Advance the marker)

1:17 The “gentleman lawyer”

5:20 If they’re passing out cookies, take one

10:25 Importance of the Jobs Act

16:12 The Cooley “divorce”

25:34 What does this award mean to you?


Sponsor: Today’s show is brought to you by the 11th Annual BayBio Pantheon Ceremony, presenting the 2014 DiNA Awards on December 5 in San Francisco. The Pantheon Awards Ceremony is a celebration of the contributions and achievements of the Bay Area, a moment to pause and reflect on the industry’s legacy over three decades.

Big Pharma Does Some Farming: Pearl Huang, GSK


Pearl Huang, VP, Global Head of DPAc, GSK Bio and Contact Info

Listen (6:28) What is the Discovery Fast Track Challenge?

Listen (4:25) How do the reseachers benefit if they are chosen?

Listen (6:55) How does the program fit into the overall vision at GSK?

As with the big studios in the movie industry, big pharma is more and more looking to outside sources for innovation, for new products. They are making early deals with venture capitalists on promising startups. J & J has their innovation centers and incubators. Bayer has recently begun its CoLaborator.

Today we talk to Pearl Huang, VP of GSK’s Partnership with Academia Team, about their Discovery Fast Track Challenge. This is a yearly competition where researchers from North America and Europe can submit their work and win the chance to collaborate with GSK. Finalists get to tour GSK’s R & D facility and have access to an impressive screening library.

Pearl explains the details of the competition in today’s program.

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."

4 Reasons Clinical Trials Don't Work: Marty Tenenbaum, Cancer Commons


Marty Tenenbaum, Founder, Cancer Commons

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:28) Why Cancer Commons?

Listen (6:07) Four reasons why clinical trials don't work

Listen (6:57) How do we go about changing the system?

Listen (4:35) What do you mean by Rapid Learning Community?

Listen (4:48) What obstacles do Cancer Commons partners face in sharing more data?

Listen (1:24) The difference between a cancer researcher and a patient is a diagnosis

"At the end of the day, we're all patients," says Marty Tenenbaum, Founder of Cancer Commons, in today's interview.

Marty is a tough cookie. He's a survivor of metastatic melanoma--not a fun one--and he's been getting traction around the biomedical research industry.

Here's the thing. Marty's survival was really by chance.

Cancer has been called the "great equalizer," and Marty is fond of saying that "the only difference between a cancer researcher and a cancer patient is a diagnosis." He is on a mission to work with researchers, doctors, policy experts, and patients to improve the system so that success is not just an accident.

But how does one who is not a researcher or leader in the industry go about that? Marty sees the best opportunity in changing the way clinical trials work. In today's interview, he lays out four reasons why the current system fails patients. And he offers his ideas to fix it.

This is where Cancer Commons comes in. Already a successful web entrepreneur, Marty is attempting to break down the walls between trials and patient care with a new "clearing house" for cancer patients. Ideally, he sees a system that would allow for a "trial of one"--where a patient in treatment has access to an experimental therapy. The goal would be to focus on the patient's own recovery and not only some future patient. Important also would be that much more of the patient's data would be available to expedite research and medical therapy.

A good deal of the funding for Cancer Commons has come from Marty's own pockets. He did well as an entrepreneur. And then he survived a tough cancer. He's now devoting all his resources to creating a new paradigm that puts the patient not at the end, but at the beginning of the process,so that many more patients will have the chance he did.

Podcast brought to you by: BioConference Live's "Cancer: Research, Discovery and Therapeutics" - taking place online Oct 16-17, 2013. Register for free now.

Pharma in China Being Held to Higher Standard, Says Greg Scott, ChinaBio


Greg Scott, Founder, ChinaBio

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:03) Growth continuum in China unchanged

Listen (4:29) Why has China gone from 1st to 9th for outsourcing?

Listen (6:04) Perstective on GSK scandal

Listen (2:38) If you're not in China, you're missing out on soon to be second largest pharma market

Listen (3:57) Are you seeing innovation in China?

Listen (2:35) Living in China

Greg Scott is Mr. Bio in China. He's the CEO of ChinaBio, a sort of Burrill and Company located in Shanghai.

We caught up with Greg to see what's been happening in China this last year and to get his perspective on the recent GSK scandal. According to Greg, China is still the high growth story that it's been over the past few years. His message to others: If you're not in China you're missing out on what will soon be (next year?) the second largest pharma market in the world.

And what about the GSK scandal? Is it threatening pharma in China? Greg says the importance of the scandal cannot be underestimated. He argues that pharma's enterprises in China are being held to a higher standard, even than in the U.S. or Europe for various reasons. Greg is open about the issues and bullish on opportunity for bio in China.

The Academia-Pharma Complex

I provocatively call the nexus of government research and regulatory agencies, university biology departments and medical schools, and drug companies the Academia-Pharma Complex. This vast public-private partnership financed by US taxpayers to develop drugs is on an unsustainable path and desperately needs Open Science. Reform begins with a diagnosis of what ails us. Many roads lead to the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, long ago in the pre-Internet Age. Bayh-Dole grants patent rights to non-government entities for inventions resulting from publicly funded research.

Is PR Pharma's Biggest Challenge? with John LaMattina

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."


John LaMattina, PhD, Former Head of Research, Pfizer

Bio and Contact Info

Listen (3:36) Pharma's PR challenge

Listen (5:48) When did public perception change for the worse?

Listen (2:27) Astronauts are heroes, why not drug chemists?

Listen (5:06) What can the industry do about poor image?

Listen (10:51) Open data a win-win

Listen (8:21) Raising the bar means more failures

If astronauts can be heroes, asks John LaMattina, former head of R & D at Pfizer, why not drug chemists? It's a great question.

In the last ten years, big pharma companies have gone from being some of the most respected public companies in the U.S. to some of the public's least favorite. What happened? Since retiring from Pfizer in 2007, John has been focused on this question and what can be done to improve the image of the drug industry. He has authored two books, first, Drug Truths: Dispelling the Myths of R & D, and his more recent Devalued and Detrusted: Can the Pharmaceutical Industry Restore Its Broken Image?

When industry veterans retire, it can be good for the industry. They are free to talk about its problems. John says the industry must become more open and transparent. And he's eager to tell the stories of the industry's heroes.

Moving to an "Outcomes" World with Steve Burrill

Podcast brought to you by: BioConference Live's annual Clinical Diagnostics Conference, May 29-31


Steve Burrill, CEO, Burrill and Co Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:38) Burrill and Buck Conference on Aging

Listen (7:32) Moving to a world in healthcare where we will pay for outcomes

Listen (6:23) Has it not always been about values?

Listen (4:24) Can Pharma create value outside of providing drugs?

Listen (1:08) Thoughts on gene patent case

"This is not your grandfather’s Buick anymore. If you grew up in biotech any time prior to the last five years, you need to reexamine your assumptions about the world of reimbursement." Ron Cohen, CEO, Acorda

This quote is taken from the yearly state of the industry book put out by Burrill and Company. CEO, Steve Burrill joins us today to discuss the newly published book this year subtitled, "Capturing Value." Cohen's quote summarizes the message in the book in which Burrill and his team argue persuasively that things in healthcare are not the way they used to be, that we are moving from a "cost-based" to a "value-based" system. Steve discusses this paradigm shift in today's show and explains why we need new assumptions in the world of pharma and biotech.

Early in the interview, Steve previews the first Burrill and Buck Aging Conference coming up May 20-21 in Novato California. The interview ends with Burrill's thoughts on the Myriad gene patent case.

Best of Mendelspod 2012

Thank you to all our 2012 sponsors and underwriters! Your support enables us to tell some great stories from the front row of a fascinating, ever unfolding industry.

Our final show of 2012 is a compilation of highlights from throughout the year. If you remember, it started off with some great buzz about sequencing. Both our series on sequencing and what to do with all the data is represented. 23andMe’s Anne Wojcicki came on the program to talk about her direct to consumer approach. This year we spent time with some folks who are attempting to shake up the industry and we’ve included two of them in today’s show. Finally we end with a selection from our series, Science and the 2102 Election.

(See Guests for speakers' bios.)

Listen (2:09) Paul Billings talks up the Ion Proton from CES in Vegas

Listen (8:37) Sultan Meghji weighs in on Roche bid for Illumina and the future of genomics

Listen (3:12) Anne Wojcicki answers questions from the audience

Listen (8:28) Big Pharma's Apostle of Innovation speaks out

Listen (4:56) Bill Frezza insists that the life sciences need a Grand Awakening

Listen (2:10) Chris Mooney: if scientists are the new world rulers, they don't know it

Listen (:48) Year end note to our audience

Happy New Year! from the Mendelspod Team

Improving the Playing Field for Biotech Startups: Melinda Richter, Prescience

Podcast brought to you by: Chempetitive Group - Who for more than a decade has helped science-based companies build and execute innovative marketing campaigns. "We love science. We love marketing. We love the idea of combining the two to make great things happen for your marketing communications."


Melinda Richter, Founder, Prescience Bio and Contact Info

Listen (10:28) How are you accelerating the commercialization of life science technology?

Listen (7:47) Innovation centers helping out startups

Listen (2:55) Educating entrepreneurs

Listen (8:27) Jumping the financial hurdle

Lying in a Beijing hospital bed waiting and waiting for a diagnosis, Melinda Richter, a telecom executive on assignment in Asia, had one of those look-death-in-the-face experiences. "We're here once only, and we have to live our time well," she says in today's interview.

This brush with her mortality propelled Ms. Richter to do something that made a difference to others. This led her to the life science industry, where she found much greater hurdles to entrepreneurship than she had seen in high tech. Asking herself what she could do to help startups and speed up the time for commercializing what is some great technologies led her to found Prescience International. Prescience runs two 'innovation centers', San Jose Biocenter and Janssen Labs in San Diego. In today's show, Melinda describes what these incubator spaces are doing to help lower the barriers for life science startups to get off their feet. Prescience also offers courses for entrepreneurs to get hands on training industry leaders.