Faces of Leadership in Diagnostics: Bonnie Anderson, Veracyte


Bonnie Anderson, CEO, Veracyte Bio and Contact Info

Listen (5:58) What is the secret to your success?

Listen (4:30) Building the case for reimbursement

Listen (5:14) How did you go about finding a commercially viable pathway?

Listen (6:03) Challenges to adoption

Listen (2:27) What are you anticipating on the regulatory front?

Listen (6:41) A woman of influence

Today we’re pleased to launch a new series, Faces of Leadership in Diagnostics, underwritten by the executive recruitment firm, Slone Partners.

We begin with the leader of a company that has been going from one giant success to another. Bonnie Anderson is the CEO of Veracyte. She has been awarded the “Women of Influence” award by Silicon Valley Business Journal and named one of the best Bay Area Life Science CEO’s by the San Francisco Business Times.

In 2013, Bonnie led Veracyte through a successful IPO, and this year the company has won contracts with two major payers, United Healthcare and Cigna, for their breakthrough Afirma Thyroid Analysis test. This gene expression based test is saving thousands of patients from undergoing unnecessary thyroid surgeries.

In today’s interview, Bonnie explains the secret to her success at Veracyte. Rather than beginning as a company with a cool technology, Bonnie says they started by looking for a clinical area where there was a huge unmet need.

"What we realized early on, was that the science is so rich today, and the tools available just keep getting better,” she says. “The assumption we made was that we would be able to figure out the scientific answer. But the challenge was in finding the commercially viable pathway where we could start, and then have a runway of expanding that same strategy across many indications so we could build a scalable, viable company."


Easier said than done. We ask Bonnie just how she and her team went about finding that “commercially viable pathway.”

Bonnie is a co-founder of the company, coming out of retirement after an already successful career in diagnostics. She explains her leadership style and describes the unique company culture she has fostered at Veracyte that has made the company a shining beacon in the tough space of diagnostics.

Podcast brought to you by: Slone Partners - Premier talent. Delivered.

Parody of a Thought Leader

Time for a bit of pre-holiday fun.

At Mendelspod, we say that we feature "thought leaders" from around the life science industry. But what is a thought leader?

David Brooks of the New York Times offers his version this morning, and I must pass it along. Superbly observed, full of delicous phrases.  A fine bit of comedy. 

Traveling in Time One Minute Per Minute: David Orban

This interview originally aired January 8, 2013.


David Orban, CEO of Dotsub Bio and Contact Info

Listen (2:35) What is Dotsub?

Listen (9:30) Why should we think about the future?

Listen (3:08) Do we have more control of the future in this age of science and technology?

Listen (6:07) Why is it so hard to agree on the future?

Listen (6:55) We are part of a biological experiment run amok that we are now running

Listen (5:31) Will scientists be the new world rulers?

Why should we think about the future, I ask David Orban, the CEO of Dotsub in today's interview. David is an "unabashed" futurist. At Dotsub, a video sharing site with translation services, David is taking part in what he calls the move to a "network society." I'm not asking David why we should have goals or plan say an interview on Tuesday of next week, or a doctor visit in three weeks. I'm talking about far into the future. How much control do we have over the future? Actually, what is the future? David has thought and talked a lot about these questions and shares his observations on future trends, particularly those of biotech. "We're part of a biological experiment run amok," he says in the interview. "And now we are running it."

Podcast brought to you by: Assay Depot - the world's largest cloud-based marketplace for research services. With Assay Depot, you can easily find the perfect research service provider and manage your project from anywhere in the world.

Biotech Journalist Shares Photos, Trip to Top of North America

Luke Timmerman is the National Biotech Editor for Xconomy. His weekly BioBeat columns on Mondays are a favorite among industry veterans.

Last month Luke took three weeks to climb Denali (Mt. McKinley) in Alaska. I was blown away with this photo essay he posted on his return. Having climbed a few mountains, including Mt. Whitney here in California, I know a bit about what it takes.

Eric Topol and His "Creative Destruction"

Podcast brought to you by: The Burrill and Buck Aging Conference Explore how innovative approaches from regenerative medicine to digital health stand to change our notion of what it means to grow old.


Eric Topol, MD, Cardiologist, Genetic Researcher, and Technologist Bio and Contact Info

Listen (6:22) Patient stories heard at Future of Genomic Medicine Conference

Listen (4:34) Medical community's response to book

Listen (6:02) "I just wish I could go back and start medical school again"

Listen (4:30) Eradicate fee for service

Listen (3:05) Craig Venter: Quality of sequencing has gone down

Listen (4:29) "De"personalized medicine?

Listen (0:58) Excited about rollout of sensors

Eric Topol joins us to discuss what was perhaps the most talked about book in the life sciences in 2012, his "The Creative Destruction of Medicine." In his book, Topol tells of the now arriving era of individualized medicine and the rise of "homo digitus," or digital man. In today's show, Topol dives into some key topics from the book such as how to deal with misaligned incentives in healthcare. "I just wish I could go back and start medical school again because this is truly an era . . a renaissance, an enlightenment in the medical space," says Topol when asked about what he advises young people.

Dr. Topol recently hosted the Future of Genomic Medicine Conference at The Scripps in San Diego, and he begins the interview giving some highlights of patient stories.

Making a Difference: Janet Woodcock, FDA

Podcast brought to you by: See your company name here. - Promote your organization by aligning it with today's latest trends.


Janet Woodcock, MD, Director, CDER, FDA Bio and Contact Info

Listen (6:48) Is the FDA changing their approach?

Listen (4:34) Message to pharma: work together

Listen (5:08) How does a submission get breakthrough status?

Listen (2:29) It's a privilege to work somewhere you can really make a difference

Listen (2:47) What feedback lets you know you're doing a good job?

Recently named one of Fierce's 25 most influential people in biopharma, Janet Woodcock is changing things at the FDA. With her influential position as Director of CDER (Center for Drug Evaluation and Research) she is pushing for the use of more biomarkers and combination therapies. With targeted therapies, "it's easier to see that they work, and they require a smaller number of people in trials to demonstrate they're effective." This is not just talk from Woodcock. Last year the agency approved more drugs than in any of the previous 15 years. Woodcock speaks in the interview about her role as prod to the bio-pharma industry. She regularly urges them to work together and share more of their pre competitive work.

A couple weeks ago, Janet made headlines announcing the FDA's new "Breakthrough Status" program, a process for streamlining submissions with a special potential to make a big difference. In today's show, Janet explains what it take to get this designation, saying that potentially a drug could be approved after a Phase I trial. Woodcock has spent many years at the FDA and talks about the secrets to her success. "I have to use my own individual judgement about what is right for the people who are my customers, the patients."

It's All About the Patients: Mara Aspinall, CEO, Ventana

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Mara Aspinall, CEO, Ventana Bio and Contact Info

Listen (4:37) How's Tucson?

Listen (3:36) Mission at Ventana entirely devoted to cancer

Listen (2:21) Digital pathology

Listen (2:29) What has made you a successful CEO?

Listen (1:15) It's all about the patients

Listen (1:21) A business person leading scientists

Listen (1:35) What inspires you about Roche?

Listen (3:49) Challenge of being a new CEO

Listen (1:26) Industry's failure with cancer

Listen (8:24) Leadership style

Listen (3:58) Challenge for personalized medicine

Listen (4:47) An early voice for personalized medicine

Listen (2:10) Personal motivation

An early pioneer of personalized medicine, Mara Aspinall joins us today. In August she was appointed the new President and CEO of Ventana Medical Systems, and global head of Roche Tissue Diagnostics. Ventana is known for their leading edge instruments and assays which support diagnosis and inform treatment decisions of cancer. Mara is formerly from On-Q-ty where she was founder and CEO. On-Q-ty is a diagnostics start-up focused on using biomarkers in circulating tumor cells to help in the prevention and treatment of cancer. She began her career in diagnostics as president of Genzyme Genetics. Mara has been a strong voice for Personalized Medicine, has sat on the board of the PMC and was a founder of Epimed, the European Personalized Med Coalition. She speaks regularly about the challenges and opportunities in this field. Mara joined us for our first show here at mendelspod, and we are happy to have her back. (Recorded 10/2012)

Chris Mooney: More Science in Politics!

Podcast brought to you by: See your company name here. - Promote your organization by aligning it with today's latest trends.


Chris Mooney, Journalist, Author Bio and Contact Info

Listen (1:40) Can you tell our audience of geeks how to be more sexy?

Listen (5:42) Why hasn't science been an issue in this election?

Listen (1:05) US has a long history of publically funding basic science

Listen (1:49) When will we have an atheist in the White House?

Listen (12:16) Obama's liberal brain the reason he lost the first debate

Listen (3:30) If scientists are the new world rulers, they don't know it

Listen (6:20) To adapt, or not to adapt..

Chris Mooney wants to see more science in politics. Pundits who actually know something about climate change, for example. A media which doesn't resist scientific research just to sell a sound byte. His most recent of four books (the guy is only 35) is The Republican Brain: They Science of Why They Deny Science - and Reality. Chris says research shows fundamental differences between the conservative and liberal brain. These differences explain why Obama lost the first debate. Chris has been actively involved in getting science into presidential debates (see ScienceDebate.org). Unfortunately, this year science has been a non-issue. Until Sandy hit. Hear Chris' take on the election, on when we might see an atheist in the White House, and whether scientists are the new world rulers.

See An Election Debate about Science and Climate moderated by Chris.

George Church on Art, Science and Philosophy

Podcast Sponsor: Biomatters - the creators of Geneious - DNA, RNA and protein sequence alignment, assembly and analysis software platform- like a swiss army knife for molecular biology.


Church George, PhD, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School and Professor of Health Sciences & Technology, Harvard and MIT.
Bio and Contact Info

Chapters (Move marker to advance)

0:35 Ars Electronica

1:55 The first encoding of digital art into DNA

4:20 The ENCODE project

7:14 Are scientists the new world rulers?

9:24 Teased by the future

At Mendelspod we like to showcase a different side of the industry leaders. Last month we caught up with Dr. George Church after the Burrill Personalized Medicine Conference. He had just returned from Linz, Austria where he gave the keynote address to the Ars Electronica Show. What was he doing at an art show, we ask him along with some other favorite questions.

"Are you playing God. . . . because you certainly have the beard for it." Stephen Colbert in an interview with Dr. Church