FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, convened the fourth annual Partnering for Cures conference in November 2012 in New York City, bringing together nearly 1,000 of the most forward-thinking innovators - our largest, most energetic crowd yet from across all sectors of the medical research enterprise. Designed to facilitate the collaboration and sharing of knowledge needed to speed up the time it takes to turn discoveries into therapies, Partnering for Cures featured two days of intensive solutions-focused dialogue and networking.
Four plenary sessions and 12 panel discussions focused on new initiatives, collaborations and solutions in medical research. View the full agenda here.
The (Near) Future of Bioscience and Health
Dramatic advances in genomics and disease research have brought the scientific community to the threshold of new discoveries, which were explored in this panel discussion. A "sea change" has been brought about by the decoding of the human genome, said Kenneth Davis of the Mt. Sinai Medical Center, adding that genomics is opening the door for precision medicine to be used to treat a growing number of diseases. Watch the video.
What You Probably Don't Know about Innovation at FDA
The FDA is often criticized for the lag time to new treatments, but as this session made clear, progress toward cures is a shared responsibility between researchers and regulators. "Drug discovery," noted Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, "is the job of the larger biomedical research community in concert with the FDA." She added that as part of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, the FDA negotiated to ensure a more patient-focused drug development paradigm that takes into account the risks patients are willing to trade off in order to have the benefits they want, and that the FDA also has to reconcile that information with the latest science when determining standards. Watch the video.
Molecule to Man (and Woman): Speeding Translation to Human Trials
The key to speeding up translation is teamwork, with stakeholders taking on the tasks that suit them best, said panelists at the "Molecule to Man (and Woman)" session. The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences "was set up as a collaborative instrument," said its director, Chris Austin. "Unless we have the focus on the patient, who is the ultimate consumer, we can do everything technically right and not service the audience that we need to." Watch the video.
Powered by Patients
Stakeholders across the life sciences are increasingly realizing the importance of more broadly engaging patients in the drug development process, beyond the traditional roles of clinical trial participant and advocate. Patients today serve in a range of roles from funding partner to convener to process manager, often helping to validate and de-risk discoveries made in academia so they will be up to industry standards. N. Anthony Coles of Onyx Pharmaceuticals talked about his company's efforts to invite patients to the table early and often. "We do that specifically so we don't ever get distracted and lose sight of who it is that we work for." Patient groups are powered by the people who have the diseases or their family members, making them "wonderfully, positively motivating," said NIH Director Francis Collins. Watch the video.
Innovative Cross-Sector Research Collaborations
30 collaborative programs shared novel approaches
FasterCures was also proud to feature 30 presentations by some of the most innovative cross-sector medical research collaborations in the field. Watch them describe their efforts to commercialize early-stage discoveries, share data, develop novel research tools, repurpose asets and create innovative financial models to drive progress. For example:
- The Clinical Trials Transformation Initiative co-founded by the FDA and Duke University is identifying practices that, through broad adoption, will increase the quality and efficiency of clinical trials.
- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and IBM Research are working together on a simulation of the whole human heart using the world's highest performance supercomputer, a project which stands to significantly accelerate new discoveries in cardiovascular therapy.
- Code-N, a Silicon Valley life sciences Big Data startup, is working to empower scientists to analyze data simultaneously in the cloud to make compound-gene-protein-disease connections that will open the door to new scientific discovery.
- Virtual biotech Phoenix Nest, created to find treatments for the ultra-rare pediatric disease Sanfilippo syndrome, was built through collaboration between leading academics, experienced researchers and nonprofit disease foundations who met at Partnering for Cures 2011.
Videos and slides from all 30 presentations are now available online.
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