FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, convened the sixth annual Partnering for Cures conference Nov. 16 to 18 in New York, bringing together the most forward-thinking innovators across all sectors of the medical research enterprise. The collective energy and urgency of the participants fed a dynamic exchange of ideas and solutions for solving some of the thorniest issues in medical research -- from re-imagining clinical trial infrastructure to improving and expanding data sharing to creating the tools and resources needed to translate basic science into cures. The meeting featured 16 panels and 30 Innovator Presentations that spotlighted cross-sector research collaborations and innovative R&D models.
Among the many threads of conversation, we heard that:
- Patient-reported data matter.
- "Coopetition" is healthy. We need cooperation and competition.
- Passion and emotion are even more powerful when quantified.
- The clinical trials system can be disrupted.
- Culture and incentives in academia are starting to shift to better value translation and entrepreneurship.
- We can embrace the complexity of disease and do science at scale.
- Citizen science is powerful.
- To get things done, we need multiple disciplines to come together.
- 21st century cures are within our reach.
- Unwavering and driven patients are improving and accelerating the search for cures.
Panels during this year's Partnering for Cures featured solutions-focused dialogue:
The United States faces a combination of challenges that threaten its status as the world leader in biomedical research. Confronting strong competition from abroad, what steps can the United States take not only to maintain its leadership role in the biomedical field but also to connect the revolution in medical technology to actionable research? Moderator Manny Alvarez of Fox News and Hackensack University Medical Center opened the session by asking the two congressional members on the panel about their 21st Century Cures initiative.
Kicking off the second plenary session, Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, pointed out that the rate of innovation in the biomedical field is often overlooked. Of course, nothing says that this rate of progress is preordained. For the trend to continue, "we need resources; we need partnerships; but most of all, we need the talents of investigators willing to think wacky ideas," said Collins.
Investment capital is up, mergers and acquisitions are back, and the combination of better technology and better science has led to an explosion of new biopharma ventures all over the country. The question now is whether the biopharma industry stands to benefit from this convergence of positive trends. It's time "to step back and evaluate the overall health of the industry and find out what's working and what's not," said moderator Kate Rawson, senior editor at Prevision Policy LLC.
As Margaret Anderson, executive director of FasterCures, said in her opening remarks, "Patient-centricity is a buzzword" these days. First developed as an idea back in the 1970s, patient-centeredness has gripped the medical community in recent years as the missing link in improving health care from clinical trials to treatment. Anderson's opening question to the panel was simple: "What does patient-centeredness mean in the 21st century?"