The 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference, organized around the theme of “Alliance Expertise at the Forefront: Leadership for the Ecosystem,” kicked off Wed., Sept. 9 at the Revere Hotel in Boston, Mass. USA with opening remarks from Michael Leonetti, CSAP, president and CEO of ASAP, and ASAP Board Chairman Christine Carberry, CSAP, senior vice president, quality, technical operations, program and alliance management at FORUM Pharmaceuticals. Their introductions were followed by a keynote address, “Taking on a Silent Killer through Partnership and Big Data,” presented by science and partnering executives from Berg, the Framingham, Mass.-based biotechnology company noted for its analytics-driven approach and innovative partnering strategy.
“Treating partnership management like a science … brings bigger success. It has to do with maturity level—companies that have been doing this for a while are more likely to be successful,” said Leonetti, who also emphasized how much the industry and its partnerships are walking the talk of consumer focus. “There’s a lot of talk about customer-centric. We have become refocused on the patient and on making sure the ultimate objective—satisfaction for the patient—is realized.”
Carberry offered several suggestions to attendees on how to maximize their learning at the conference as alliance managers entering this new era of orchestrating the life sciences and healthcare ecosystem. Engage with questions to advance the conversation, write down a particular alliance management challenge and find a tool and put it into practice right away, and look at this conference through the eyes of your CEO by asking “How does alliance management fit into your company strategy?” she advised. “No matter where you sit in the company, this is an opportunity to look at how we look at alliances for success.”
The opening keynote focused on the use of research platforms based on big data analytics and artificial intelligence algorithms to isolate the root cause of disease and develop personalized treatment options for patients. A short video from Berg founder and Chief Technical Officer Niven Narain was followed by tag-team presentations by Vipula Tailor, CSAP, vice president of business development and alliance management, and Rangaprasad Sarangarajan, senior vice president, chief scientific officer, and co-founder of biosystems at Berg.
“We are putting the patient at the center of everything we do,” explained Tailor. “One relationship Berg is highlighting is Project Survival—finding the underlying biology for pancreatic cancer.”
Berg’s novel alliance approach involves accumulating and analyzing as much data as possible, primarily by obtaining tissue samples via multiple research and hospital partners. The Project Survival multiparty collaboration is focused on search, discovery, and validation of the first-ever clinical biomarker to diagnose and treat pancreatic cancer. It includes academia and medical institutions such as Harvard and its affiliated hospitals, non-profits, and even entities such as the U.S. Department of Defense.
Berg’s scientific strategy is intricately linked to its partnering strategy. The unusual approach has allowed Berg to obtain literally trillions of data points from each tissue sample analyzed in their research. The company’s researchers then use artificial intelligence combined with fundamental biology to make sense of that data.
“The more tissue samples we get, the smarter the machine gets,” explained Sarangarajan of the alliance-and-research strategy.
The day concluded with a reception to meet and greet partners and colleagues and network among the more than 160 biopharma industry partnering professionals in attendance.