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10 Moments You Missed at MassBio’s Annual Meeting

Barnstable High School

Barnstable High School students accept the 2014 Joshua Boger Innovative School of the Year Award at MassBio’s annual meeting. All photos provided by MassBio photographers.

The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council’s Annual Meeting, titled “The Business of Science,” took place on March 26 and 27, 2015 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. The two-day event is MassBio’s largest of the year and drew close to 400 industry leaders.

Between MassBio CEO Bob Coughlin’s opening remarks and Secretary of Housing & Economic Development Jay Ash’s commentary on the government’s commitment to the industry, there was quite a bit of action. Here are 10 key moments you’ll wish you hadn’t missed:

1. Jay Ash, Secretary of Housing and Economic Development for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, on Boston’s strengths:

“Boston is the #1 life sciences cluster in the world. To not sit up here and say that you are not contributing to the economy would be foolhardy. This is why our economic plan includes promoting high growth sectors like life sciences.”

2. Susan Hager, VP Corporate Communications and Government Affairs at Foundation Medicine, on payment reform and value:

“It’s going to take some very innovative payers to think differently about what value means to their organizations and to their patients, and how they access the value of innovation that is being brought to the forefront right now”

Mark Levin

Mark Levin explores the concept of taking innovation world-wide.

3. Mark Levin, Founder of Third Rock Ventures, on the importance of diversity:

“Our mindset has to be different going forward. All the tools aren’t in the Silicon Valley, they are all over the world. We have to figure out how to make Massachusetts great while working with the Silicon Valley, India, and China, to make the biggest difference for patients. We want Mass to be the best, but we need to work with this global set of knowledge to make a different. Group genius approach versus ‘we have to keep it this way.”

4. Susan Hager, VP Corporate Communications and Government Affairs at Foundation Medicine, on impacting change:

“If enough people put enough pressure on the system, we can force change. But we have to think about how we leverage information and how that information gets into the hands of the patients who need it.”

5. Navroze Alphonse, Managing Member of CrossOver Capital Management, on his firm’s approach to venture financing:

“People who are doing things that are non-traditional to the biotech industry. That’s something we are interested in also. One of the purposes of starting CrossOver is that usually when starting an early stage company, you are dealing with vulture type guys. We realize we need to work with you without putting our foot on your throat, at least in the beginning.“

Precision Medicine - What's the Opportunity

A panel discussion on precision medicine brought up questions about genetic disease.

6. Susan Hager, VP Corporate Communications and Government Affairs at Foundation Medicine, on precision medicine:

“Anytime you are trying to change a paradigm, it’s difficult and takes time to get everyone’s innovative thinking. With precision medicine, maybe we are at the point where we can put the spotlight on the problem to see results.” “Don’t guess, test. Make sure you truly understand the genomic drivers of your disease.”

7. Yuval Cohen, CEO of Corbus Pharma, on the importance of taking care of your angel investors :

“Three things about angels. It’s important to communicate with them. Respect them. Make sure they believe what you are doing. Protect them – the first guys who finance, the next round often wipes them out. Communicate, Inspect, and Protect. What you get in return are very thoughtful, very loyal investors, and that’s very important to cultivate. “

Andrew Lo - Can Massachusetts Cure Cancer

Andrew Lo presents his talk, titled “Can Massachusetts Cure Cancer?”

8. Andrew W Lo, Director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering, on curing cancer:

“If you focus on the patient, if you focus on breakthrough therapies, there will be enough money for everybody. Massachusetts can cure cancer. The money is here, we have the money, we don’t have the vehicle. You can do well by doing good, they are not mutually exclusive. With all the resources we have within a 5 mile radius, we can cure cancer.” “If we create a bubble, if we have too much money going into cancer, I can sleep at night.”

9. Kathy Giusti, Founder of the Multiple Myeloma Foundation, on her sense of purpose and responsibility for patients:

The point of my being here is to engage the conversation. Every patient puts their feet on the ground believing that somebody will come up with a cure to their disease.” “Sometimes I feel like I am the concierge to the rich and famous. I have this incredible feeling that I need to democrotize cancer. I see a world where the more data we give, the more the more precise our journey will be.”

Glenn Batchelder - Mark Levin - Bob Coughlin

Glenn Batchelder, Mark Levin and Bob Coughlin.

10. Mark Levin, Founder of Third Rock Ventures, on the importance of patient centricity:

“The first thing we have to do is think about the patients. What they are going through right now is much more important and much more challenging than everything else that is going on if you are healthy.”

Robert Schultz

Robert Schultz

    Robert Schultz has an MBA in Information Systems from University of Massachusetts-Boston and a BS in International Business from Northeastern University, where he served as Business Manager for the university’s largest student publication, The Northeastern News. Schultz is an experienced healthcare technology startup enthusiast who was involved with the patient monitoring company Aware Engineering through the MassBio MassCONNECT program.

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