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Susan Flinn Cobian
Title: Executive VP, Managing Director
Company: HYC Health
Education: BA, Kenyon College
Family: Husband, Randy Robert Cobian
Hobbies: Golf and paddle tennis
Bucket List: To spend two weeks in Ireland and Scotland playing golf; to sing on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry; to complete a half-Ironman Triathlon
Awards/Honors: 2016 PM360 Elite Entrepreneur
Associations: Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association; The Lakeside Association Women’s Athletic Club of Chicago
If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. That Milton Berle quote succinctly sums up Susan Cobian, who is driven by the thrill of achieving the unachievable and shattering preconceptions.
Ms. Cobian embodies the entrepreneurial spirit, bringing together in-depth industry know-how, a willingness to take risks, and an unwavering sense of purpose with creative thinking.
Over the course of her 30 years in healthcare advertising, she has built two agencies from scratch and rebuilt three others that were on the verge of shutting their doors by relying on her instincts, her knowledge, and her insurmountable drive to succeed.
In 2002, Ms. Cobian was charged with opening a Chicago office for a fast-growing New York-based agency. Armed with only her Rolodex, a shared office suite, and zero clients, Ms. Cobian went door to door pitching her vision of a new type of agency. Her tenacity paid off with assignments from three former clients and the Chicago headquarters for Euro RSCG Life (now Havas) was officially opened. She hired a core team of people chosen specifically for their shared sense of entrepreneurialism, dedication to exceeding expectations, and adventure. She never wavered in her approach to delight customers, and in so doing, grew the office from a single-person start-up to a 35-person agency with annual revenue of $15 million and average gross margins of 36% all in less than three years.
Next she was asked to turn her talents toward rebuilding an agency. As president at Lyonheart Communications (now LLNS), Ms. Cobian led business development and total operations for the 250-person agency. During her tenure, she restructured and rebranded the agency, securing five new clients within the first six months and increasing annual revenue by 22%. In addition, she created an internal recognition program that reduced the attrition rate by more than 50%, recharged the creative team, and ended up with 12 industry awards.
Three years ago, Ms. Cobian took on her most challenging assignment. She was hired by the Chicago-based consumer agency HY Connect to pitch and win the agency’s first true healthcare account and then use that core business to build a new complementary agency focused solely on healthcare.
“The founders had the foresight to recognize that the healthcare business would drive growth for the entire company, but firmly believed we could staff that business with consumer advertising professionals,” she says. “It took me eight excruciatingly painful months to convince them that wasn’t a smart plan. Eventually, I was given the green light to hire experienced healthcare agency people, many of whom I have worked with before, and we have more than tripled the business as a result.”
Part of her secret to success is that she always looks at challenges from different perspectives.
“I turn a challenge around and upside-down to figure out what caused the issue in the first place,” she says. “Then, I determine what the most opportunistic outcome would be and work backward to see where it fell apart and how to fix it.”
Her never-say-never attitude is backed by a magnetic, larger-than-life personality that instills a sense of loyalty among her team and her clients, and an unwavering desire to go above and beyond.
She approaches building an agency with the same passion and competitive spirit she approaches her golf game. Ms. Cobian is a shrewd strategist who becomes an expert on the client, its product or products, and the industry sector to take down any competition and exceed sales goals.
She is motivated by the opportunity to learn something new.
“I’ve been in this business for more than 30 years and still learn something new every day, which makes my job fun, exhilarating, and never dull,” she says. “When that stops, I’ll retire and work on my golf game.”
Loyalty, she says, is key.
“I’ve built a wide network of people upon whom I can depend, because they know I’ll always have their backs.”
Her energy is apparent time after time, such as when she flew from a pitch in NY to another pitch in San Francisco on the same day and won them both.
A hands-on leader, Ms. Cobian works alongside her staff at all levels, sharing with them her belief that perseverance and hard work can solve any issue.
The biggest challenge she says is finding talented, dedicated people who are willing to jump off a cliff with her, and finding a non-self-serving way to communicate an agency’s value to clients.
Title: Founder and Managing Partner
Company: The Stem
Education: BS, Communications, Cornell University; MBA, NYU Stern School of Business
Family: Wife and children
Hobbies: Kayaking, playing tennis, biking
Bucket List: Live in a foreign country, learn another foreign language, master a musical instrument
Tweet: @GFish_ and @TheStemconsults
With his finger on the pulse of what’s happening in pharma and in digital, Gregg Fisher is driving changes in how healthcare companies leverage emerging media and technology.
In founding The Stem, Mr. Fisher drew upon his deep experience and strategic insight and executed his vision of building a consultancy that would offer clients efficient access to deep specialty expertise in health customer engagement, drawing on the industry’s strongest network of independent talent.
He has a passion for digital media and its ability to drive more meaningful engagement with patients and healthcare professionals and Mr. Fisher is committed to making it work for healthcare companies.
A strategic and innovative thinker, Mr. Fisher is able to see a much bigger, broader picture where it cuts across the spectrum within the commercial world to develop multi-layered, multifaceted, and global strategies.
He has been a pioneer who has been tirelessly working at the intersection of health customer engagement and digital technology for more than 15 years. Before establishing The Stem, he launched LBi Health as a standalone digital healthcare marketing agency, significantly expanding the practice and serving some of the world’s leading healthcare companies.
In founding The Stem, Mr. Fisher says he is proud to have built a company that efficiently meets a growing need for expertise as the pharmaceutical sales and marketing model evolves.
“I am equally proud of providing the growing numbers of independent consultants with a platform to realize their entrepreneurial ambitions and maintain a high-quality work-life balance,” he says.
He has picked some of the most talented people in the field and assembled great virtual teams that can be scaled up or down as projects require, providing flexibility to clients and to consultants.
According to Mr. Fisher, digital technology in all forms is disrupting the commercial model of life-sciences firms and disrupting the care delivery model. Notable examples are remote care technologies, mobile medical devices, applications of social analytics, wearables, digitized patient support programs, care social networks, marketing automation, among others.
“What all these technologies have in common is the promise to make the delivery of healthcare and health information a more personal, accessible, and supportive experience,” he says.
The convergence of mobile technologies, diagnostics, and personalized medicine will bring about a future where it will be possible to fluidly receive the information to prevent disease and enhance well-being every day, Mr. Fisher maintains.
“I envision a future where health data and support is present at the moment we need it across multiple touchpoints,” he says. “So, with unlimited resources, I would seek to incubate companies that would accelerate the development of technologies that empower consumers and patients with information and support.”
For Mr. Fisher, innovation is best fostered in an environment that celebrates calculated risk, or “smart failures,” continuous learning, examining how new technologies alter entrenched processes, and by spending time with customers to find out what’s broken.
He engages clients not only through his conversations and ideas, but also through asking questions that lead to conclusions that might not otherwise have been reached.
He’s able to really help people dream and be lofty with their goals and strategy, but then also bring them back down to reality and focus on the nuts and bolts that are required to get them there.
Ultimately, Mr. Fisher would like to be remembered as an innovator and a change agent who envisioned and implemented better and smarter ways to engage with customers, and as an entrepreneur who has empowered fellow consultants to pursue their ambitions, and do great work, without sacrificing their quality of life.
He is motivated by the work The Stem does at the intersection of health/customer and experience/technology, and by leading a new approach to organizing talent. He inspires those around him by keeping the big picture in mind and having a sense of perspective.
“Circumstances are dynamic — today’s setback is tomorrow’s victory,” he says.
Title: CEO and Founder
Awards/Honors: Crain’s Business 40-Under-40 Class of 2009
Associations: Young Presidents Organization (YPO); the Institute for Student Business Education at Northwestern University; the Academy for Global Citizenship; Animals Inc. (AZA)
Rishi Shah, CEO and co-founder of ContextMedia:Health, was born to be an entrepreneur. His first foray into business was at the age of 5, when he decided to sell his own watercolors door to door, getting the idea when an art dealer came to his parent’s door. He was working in investments with his father at the age of 11 —— turning $30,000 into several million in junior high school — and started a home computer consulting service at age 12, which expanded to more than five states before he sold the firm to Best Buy, just four years later.
While attending Northwestern University, he started the school’s publication, Northwestern Business Review, which is still publishing today, and he also developed a funding plan to support the Institute for Student Business, which is also ongoing.
In 2006, as an undergraduate, Mr. Shah co-founded ContextMedia:Health, which digitally delivers actionable healthcare information when and where it can improve health outcomes — most commonly in the physicians’ waiting room. He observed relatives struggling to learn more about their chronic conditions and decided to come up with a solution. Constantly inventive, Mr. Shah develops platforms with the patient and doctor experience in mind, ensuring a productive, contemporary and meaningful customized media experience unlike anything the industry has seen before. He is having a notable, positive impact on patients coast to coast, through a variety of specialty offices.
Mr. Shah left Northwestern to pursue ContextMedia:Health full time, and to date, he has built the largest and fastest-growing health information services company in the industry.
He maintains a steadfast commitment to innovation focused on identifying new needs for patients, healthcare providers, and pharma marketers.
In the 10 years that ContextMedia:Health has been in business, five products have been created, all of which have pushed innovation forward in the industry to better serve the needs of all stakeholders.
The initial product, which was launched in 2006, was Waiting Room TV, a suite of educational TV networks delivering hyper-targeted health information while patients waited for the doctor. At this time, Mr. Shah was the company’s sole salesman, driving from doctor’s office to doctor’s office with Waiting Room TVs in his trunk.
By 2015, Mr. Shah had moved to custom manufacturing ContextMedia:Health’s products so that its designers could have end-to-end control, and best address the needs of physicians, patients, and pharmaceutical marketers. Each product addresses a unique need, for example The Digital Exam Room Wallboard drives a physician-led dialogue, Patient Mobile Connect allows geo-targeted messaging on a patient’s mobile device, and the Infusion Room Tablet delivers messaging to the patient in the infusion room.
ContextMedia:Health was named to Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies in America list in 2013 and 2014 and to Forbes 50 Most Promising Companies in America 2014. In 2014, the company had 46 full-time employees, and as of March 2016, it has grown to 325 full-time employees.
On top of all these achievements is a warm and caring person, eager to mentor and help others achieve their goals.
Colleagues describe Mr. Shah as someone who has given his life to be at the service of others, and most importantly, he aims to change the world for the better.
Mr. Shah’s team members and colleagues say they have never met someone who is so genuinely willing to help them — no strings attached, and for many they have never met a leader more dedicated to building, creating, influencing, and positively affecting those around him. He has served as an inspiration, a mentor, and a role model for many who work with and for him.
In addition to building a company that helps millions of patients live healthier lives, it is Mr. Shah’s selfless commitment toward improving the lives of those around him that impresses colleagues the most.
While his life continues to be increasingly busy, he always makes time to help his employees grow, mentor other entrepreneurs, and give back to the community.
Titles and Companies: Founder and Chairman, MAGI; Managing Director, First Clinical Research LLC
Education: BA, Economics, Yale; MBA, Stanford
Associations: MAGI, ACRP, DIA, PRIM&R
Creating Positive Clinical Connections
With a drive to find ways to advance the practice of clinical research, Norm Goldfarb helps to educate researchers by giving a voice to research sites and a platform that creates a win-win for both sites and sponsors.
Mr. Goldfarb founded and leads Model Agreements & Guidelines International (MAGI), which has more than 10,000 members representing clinical research sponsors, sites, and CROs. MAGI is a voluntary organization, operated by First Clinical Research, a company dedicated to advancing the practice of clinical research.
MAGI has led the industry in creating a standard clinical trial agreement, an initiative that is rapidly gaining momentum in the industry. Mr. Goldfarb has been instrumental in the creation of more than 150 forms, checklists, and other standard templates that are freely available to MAGI members, and which are saving countless hours for clinical researchers, as well as improving consistency and quality. The First Clinical Research website includes a searchable database of more than 680 regulatory documents, a searchable database of more 7,300 FDA and GCP Q&As, 11 industry directories, and two glossaries with more than 9,000 terms.
MAGI also conducts two conferences each year to bring together sponsor, CRO, and site personnel to discuss how to improve and streamline clinical operations, with a focus on training and practical solutions. These clinical research conferences set the standard for excellence.
For Mr. Goldfarb, his greatest career highlight is the fact that 99% of participants are satisfied with the conferences, which allows MAGI to offer a money-back satisfaction guarantee, perhaps the only one in the conference industry.
A hands-on leader, Mr. Goldfarb’s main goal is to bring everyone in the industry together to work more efficiently. He embodies MAGI’s slogan: We can agree to save lives.
Mr. Goldfarb provides an accessible venue to bring clinical trial sites, sponsors, service providers, and government agencies together to engage in enriched discussions around the hot topics the whole industry struggles with day to day.
He recognizes that a good idea is not enough to achieve industrywide innovation; rather it requires help from many people and potentially many years of work.
Mr. Goldfarb started MAGI 13 years ago, when he realized that negotiating clinical trial agreements was taking months and creating significant delays for the industry and for the patients the industry serves. In an open, collaborative process, hundreds of people from sponsors, sites, and CROs have helped create a standard CTA template for the industry.
Additionally, under Mr. Goldfarb, MAGI produces the monthly Journal of Clinical Best Practices, a free online publication that highlights thought leadership and breakthroughs in the area of clinical research. The journal has more than 100,000 subscribers and Mr. Goldfarb has authored more than 400 practical and insightful articles in the journal and other publications.
“With MAGI’s Clinical Research Conferences and the Journal of Clinical Research Best Practices, I try to stimulate the development, sharing, and adoption of best practices,” he says.
Mr. Goldfarb co-founded and co-leads the Joint Task Force on Clinical Trial Competency, and he organized and led the Rethink Research! competition to rebrand clinical research.
Giving back to the community matters to Mr. Goldfarb and he organized the Clinical Research Relief Organization, which raised $5,000 for clinical researchers in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
Title: Founder and Executive Chairman
Company: Zephyr Health
Education: BS, BA, International Business, University of Denver
Family: Wife, Christine; children, Keira and Quinn; mother and father, Bill and Barbara; siblings: Jessi, Lauri, Stephen, Beckey and, Kristey Anne
Hobbies: Fitness and sports, golfing, surfing, skiing, food and wine, with an emphasis on old world wines, video and film editing
Bucket List: Travel, dip a toe in every ocean, skydive, and learn to appreciate his childrens’ music
Awards/Honors: PM360’s Most Innovative Start-ups, 2015; Insights Success, 20 Most Valuable Enterprise Big Data Companies; Gartner’s Cool Vendors in Life Sciences, 2015
Associations: Various education and alumini associations; American Heart Association Research Roundtable
Connecting Data for Meaningful Insights
An appetite for innovation and entrepreneurship to improve the status quo has always been at the crux of whatever William King put his mind to.
In founding Zephyr Health, Mr. King is helping life-sciences companies find better ways to connect their treatments, diagnostics, or medical devices to physicians and their patients faster through efficient use of global health data and predictive insights based on this data. In other words, he is making it easier for healthcare companies to make decisions based on data insights to gain a competitive advantage.
He realized early in his career that data was at the heart of decision making for life-sciences companies. He began his career at Johnson & Johnson where he was struck by the staggering amount of data the company was purchasing and producing. What became clear was the vast amount of data that was disjointed and the time, people, and money it took to glean through it all to make sense of it and make better decisions.
With 80% of health data being unstructured, the obstacle was not about getting the data — J&J had tons of it — it was about managing it, creating connections, and extracting valuable insights.
His focus with Zephyr Health, which he founded in 2011, has been to make it the leading Insights-as-a-Service company for the life-sciences industry. The company’s lead product, Zephyr Illuminate, was designed to find the signal through all the data noise — weakly connected or disconnected data — and help companies make confident decisions faster across the entire product lifecycle.
According to Mr. King, too much opportunity is being left on the table in the healthcare industry, which ultimately impacts the patients we are all working so hard to help. There will be 400 new product launches over the next three years, but more than 50% of these will achieve only half their sales forecast due to inaccurate, outdated, or disconnected data. Mr. King and his company of 100 employees worldwide are working toward improving these statistics.
Mr. King says Zephyr Health represents not only his biggest career highlight, but also some of his most challenging experiences.
“Bootstrapping, finding product and market fit, hiring the right people and teams have all been tremendously rewarding, but also uniquely challenging in their own right,” he says.
To inspire others, it’s important to first be inspired yourself. He tries to take the energy that he receives from speaking with customers, investors, and visionaries in the industry and beyond, and share that big picture view of the future with others.
“I also look to connect with people emotionally, which then opens us both up to being inspired, and being inspirational,” he says.
Success for Mr. King is measured in two ways: delighted and evangelical customers, and employees who continue to learn, raise their own professional bar, and are imbued with confidence to be tremendous at their job.
He would tell his younger self not to get so caught up in the highs and lows of work and life, but to be patient and confident that when things are bad they will get better, and when things are good spend the time to really be present in those moments.
At a broader industry level, Mr. King says the biggest challenge is the cost of and access to healthcare.
“We need to spend less and get healthier; instead we keep spending more and getting sicker as a society,” he says.
He hopes to be remembered as an innovator and inventor with a great passion for data and technology that created news ways to advance and consume care.
Mentoring is important to Mr. King, who says when Tom West sponsored his International Development Program assignment at J&J — an opportunity that changed his life – he asked how he could repay the endorsement.
“He was simple with his response: ‘pay it forward’,” Mr. King says. “Mentoring is not only immensely enjoyable, but it helps me stay true to that commitment.”
Title: CEO and Founder
Company: Zipdrug Inc.
Education: BS, Quinnipiac University
Family: Wife, Jamie
Hobbies: Cycling and spinning
Transforming the Prescription Delivery Model
Stu Libby, CEO and founder of Zipdrug, realized there was an unmet need for a company such as his when a hospital failed to deliver his father the medication he was prescribed after an incident last year. Forced to go back and forth between the hospital and pharmacies, he realized there had to be a better way.
Mr. Libby developed Zipdrug, the first on-demand prescription drug delivery company, which launched in July 2015 in New York City.
Recognizing that the on-demand economy is revolutionizing consumer behavior, he formed Zipdrug to save patients a trip to their preferred pharmacies. About 70% of the U.S. population takes prescription medications, the average wait time at the pharmacy for a prescription is 45 minutes, and mail-order prescriptions take an average of two to three days to arrive. Zipdrug eliminates time spent traveling to the drugstore and waiting for prescriptions.
A user simply downloads the app, creates a profile, and enters in details of the prescription and pharmacy. Within an hour, one of Zipdrug’s messengers will be at the consumer’s door, prescription in hand, sometimes for less money than if the consumer visited the pharmacy.
Zipdrug has its technology in more than 100 medical facilities in New York City, helping doctors make the patient experience a one-stop-shop for those who don’t have time to wait at a pharmacy or for those who simply don’t feel well enough to go to the drugstore.
Mr. Libby was able to assemble funding and a team to effectively leverage new technology and existing infrastructure to quickly get his platform to market in a very short amount of time. In the past five months, the company has doubled in size month over month. Since its launch, Zipdrug has been growing rapidly deliveries every week in the metro New York City area. In addition, in September 2015 Zipdrug partnered with the on-demand doctor service Pager to help patients get treatment and prescriptions drugs without leaving their home. This partnership is the first of many to help expand Zipdrug expand its footprint.
His disruptive innovation has delivered benefits to patients, pharma companies, payers, and a range of ancillary stakeholders. Forcing patients to wait at pharmacies to pick up prescriptions resulted in one out of three prescriptions never being picked up, translating into medication non-adherence.
Mr. Libby is a highly accomplished innovator who is not afraid to push boundaries and disrupt the status quo using new technologies that create efficiencies and conveniences.
His belief in his team, his constant engagement with the organization, and his ability to motivate colleagues along the way inspire those who work for him.
He also inspires others by being transparent and present, and he motivates his team by reminding everybody to stay rational and avoid being emotional.
“Innovation can only happen when the basics in life are taken care of,” he says. “You cannot have a clear head to innovate if you live beyond your means, do not have your house in order, etc., so to speak. If you covered the basics you leave room for creativity.”
He describes as his greatest career achievement to date convincing people smarter than him to join Zipdrug when it was no more than an idea on a napkin.
He is dedicated, energetic, and bold about how to provide better services for customers and reshape the whole industry.
Before founding Zipdrug, Mr. Libby was co-founder and chief revenue officer for Solve Media, which puts ads in Captchas, where users prove they are human. Before that, he was an executive at DoubleClick and Google.
Mr. Libby believes the life-sciences industry needs an easier platform to launch innovation.
“We need to make it easy for healthcare innovators to showcase and pilot their products,” he says.
He would like to be remembered for assembling and leading a team that made pharmacies more effective and important than ever before.
Title: Founder and CEO
Education: Bachelor of Commerce, Guelph University
Family: Husband, three daughters Chloe, Emma, and Sophie
Hobbies: Skiing, traveling, food, baking, photography
Bucket List: Take her daughters to see the world to open their minds to possibilities and adventure
Awards/Honors: Female Innovator of the Year Award, Women in Business
Associations: MaRS Discovery, Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association
Supplying a Need
A visionary innovator, Stephany Lapierre has the ability to identify a need in the industry and fill the gap.
She possesses the observational skills needed to recognize a challenge, the orientation skills needed to understand the problem and begin to formulate the solution, and the conceptual skills needed to marry this understanding with a desired user experience that transforms the way the industry sources suppliers.
Back in 2007 she accurately assessed the need for a streamlined procurement process for identifying and engaging suppliers for pharmaceutical and biotech clients. More importantly, she did so in a way that was efficient and effective for clients and suppliers alike. Her Matchbook process finds the best fit of supplier and client using an efficient vetting method that helps to identify the best suppliers that are right for the specific company or task at hand. This saves time and money and, more importantly, ensures that when a strategic partner is selected it is a business relationship that will be sustainable for years to come.
By introducing tealbook in 2014, she’s again moved the needle for the industry. She is committed to establishing the company as the leader in supplier intelligence, discovery, and identification.
Ms. Lapierre has a way of making her clients feel respected and informed. She cuts through the clutter and helps companies focus on key issues to effectively engage their suppliers.
Well-informed, straight-talking, and thoughtful with her comments and critiques, she understands suppliers’ strengths and areas of expertise and helps them grow their business by finding suitable clients that will benefit from and value their new partnership.
Ms. Lapierre is passionate in her mission to connect life-sciences companies to the strongest supply partners so that together they can make a difference for patients.
She is motivated by the unique opportunity to exponentially improve the supplier discovery process, and she is always eager to seek others’ perspectives.
“There is always someone who sees things differently and brings a new perspective with a positive light,” she says.
Her goal is to change the archaic way companies share intelligence with their peers and find and identify qualified suppliers. For suppliers, tealbook makes it possible for them to focus on what they do well for clients and focus their time and resources on opportunities that generate greater ROI.
Career highlights for her include: taking a chance and launching tealbook; getting the first supplier on the platform; getting the first client to agree to pilot and the first head of procurement willing to pay money to subscribe to tealbook; formalizing a partnership with Dun & Bradstreet; getting the first large biotech company to select tealbook for an enterprisewide subscription; and getting the company’s trademark approved despite Facebook’s opposition.
She is committed to her teams’ needs and motivations, to making sure tealbook has appropriate resources to support its growth, making sure clients get the most value out of tealbook as the company continues to grow, and inspiring her daughters’ personal development.
“The tealbook journey has been highly gratifying so far but there is still a lot to do and the learning curve is steep,” she says.
She fosters innovation by listening, observing, asking questions, challenging, and finding solutions.
Given her own entrepreneurial journey, Ms. Lapierre would like to help others build their vision. She is inspired by dreamers, doers, and visionaries — people who are not afraid to challenge things, take risks, and remain true to themselves.
“Innovation is everywhere,” she says. “I’m constantly surrounded by innovation: clients that are developing innovative therapies and health technologies to advance the standard of care; suppliers that are evolving to continuously bring innovative solutions to their customers; and start-up companies that are taking risks and disrupting our industry.”
Kerrie Lynn Brady
Title: Chief Business Officer, Executive VP Strategy, Co-Founder
Company: Centrexion Therapeutics Corp.
Education: MS, Biopharmaceuticals, University of New South Wales,
Bachelor of Pharmacy, Victorian College of Pharmacy; MBA, University of Melbourne
Family: Husband, two daughters, mother
Hobbies: Reading and traveling
Bucket List: To see the Aurora Borealis and Australis
Associations: Women in Bio; Licensing Executive Society
Transforming Pain Therapies
As the pioneering force behind Centrexion Therapeutics, Kerrie Brady has made it her mission to build a company aimed at changing the face of pain treatment and help the millions of patients suffering from inadequately treated chronic pain.
Pain affects 1.5 billion people worldwide, and despite that, there has been a paucity of meaningful therapeutic innovations to curb the epidemic.
“One of our biggest challenges is to decipher the many languages of pain transmission, pinpoint the right target for each patient, and match that target to a novel drug,” Ms. Brady explains. “The good news is that we’re working on several promising therapies that address various types of chronic pain, but we have a long way to go before we can get these treatments into the hands of people who currently lack suitable alternatives to opioids.”
Centrexion was founded in 2013 by Ms. Brady and chief scientific officer Jim Campbell, M.D. Ms. Brady led the company’s recent acquisition of three new developmental analgesic therapies from Boehringer Ingelheim. Her passion and conviction for innovative approaches to pain treatment continues to drive the future direction of Centrexion’s portfolio and prospective commercial endeavors. In the three short years since the official formation of Centrexion, the management team has established a robust pipeline of non-opioid therapies for a number of moderate-to-severe pain targets in both humans and canines.
Early in her career while training to be a pharmacist in Australia, the hospital pharmacy where she worked provided methadone to patients with narcotic addiction, and the pharmacists were required to oversee their taking of the drug before the patient could leave. There were a staggering number of patients who came into the pharmacy, a susprising number of whom had been prescribed an opioid-based medicine to treat pain became addicted. Those memories stayed with Ms. Brady and fuel her drive to build a company that can help solve this growing problem.
She has a unique leadership ability to translate science into business and vice versa. Intelligence is the price of entry to the life-sciences industry, Ms. Brady says, but perception and critical thinking drive successful decision-making and distinguish leaders from the rest of the pack.
Ms. Brady is praised by colleagues for her leadership skills and understanding of how to build a successful company. She has had influential roles at several pharma and biotechnology companies over her 30-year career.
In the healthcare industry, the most important measure of success is having a meaningful impact on people’s lives and well-being, Ms. Brady says.
“For me, specifically, success equals transforming today’s opioid-centric pain management paradigm with a broad array of non-opioid therapies targeting unique transmission pain pathways,” she says.
Ms. Brady left Australia 18 years ago to move to the United States, leaving behind friends and family in pursuit of her dual loves: science and business.
“Today, I’m proud to say I’ve successfully honed my skills in the clinical and corporate world, and look forward to focusing my efforts toward developing safe and more effective therapies for the millions of people worldwide suffering from chronic pain,” she says.
Innovation thrives where there is curiosity, collaboration, and commitment to a cause, Ms. Brady believes. It is stifled by a fear-based culture, which discourages creativity and outside-of-the-box thinking and penalizes any degree of risk.
“I believe the notion that fear of failure impedes success, I want to empower those around me to exercise their creative muscle and take calculated risks,” she says.
To Ms. Brady there are so many true innovations and medical advances taking place, but the one that stands out is big data to more fully inform the development of new drugs.
She inspires others with her courage to take on challenges and her resilience to inevitable setbacks. She motivates her colleagues by modeling positive, collaborative, and solutions-focused behavior in the face of challenges.
As an executive in a field where men outnumber women in leadership roles, Ms. Brady feels a tremendous sense of responsibility to mentor and empower other women working in pharma, biotech, and life sciences to aspire to become future leaders.
She played a mentorship role with Women in Bio for five years, providing advice and sharing insights and best practices with other female entrepreneurs.
“I’ve been fortunate to mentor some of the brightest and most driven women in my industry, and hope to instill the same work ethic, confidence, and visionary thinking that helped me advance in my career,” she says.
Ms. Brady has also been an active member of the Licensing Executive Society for more than 20 years and previously served on the Technology Council of Maryland.
Lisa Boyette, M.D., Ph.D.
Title: CEO and Founder
Company: Curable (formerly Save Jon Inc.)
Education: M.D., Ph.D., Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics, University of Virginia; B.S. Biomedical Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University
Family: Husband Juan; son Henry; parents Richard and Susan; brother, Jon; sister, Katie
Awards/Honors: NIH Fellows Award for Research Excellence, 2009; Christine Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellowship at the National Academy of Sciences, 2009
Associations: The Biomedical Engineering Society, Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, American Association of Immunology, the Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies, the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, the American Society of Transplantation
Tweet at: @SAVE_JON
Lisa Boyette, Ph.D., M.D., CEO of the nonprofit organization Curable (formerly Save Jon), and an adjunct assistant professor at the Starzl Transplantation Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, is a young physician scientist on a critically important mission: to save the life of her brother, Jon, and fellow patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), many of whom will die without a liver transplant. PSC is a rare liver and bile duct disease that is thought to have an autoimmune component that causes scarring of the bile ducts, resulting in narrowing and eventual blockage of those vessels. The resulting trapped bile starts digesting liver cells, which often results in cirrhosis, necessitating a liver transplant. The patient advocacy group, PSC Partners, estimates that 21 in 100,000 men and six in 100,000 women have this disease. There are as many as 50,000 patients with PSC in the U.S. today. PSC most often affects men who are 30 to 40 years old, although it can be diagnosed as early as infancy. No one knows what causes PSC, and there are currently no effective medical therapies.
Combining a sister’s love, a doctor’s resolve, and a scientist’s ingenuity, Dr. Boyette founded Curable as a research accelerator in 2014 with Dietrich Stephan, PhD, chairman of the Department of Human Genetics in the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health. While her initial focus is on PSC, she is also creating a blueprint that can be applied to other diseases affecting both large and small patient populations.
Curable is an organization with a true sense of urgency, which is palpable in everything it does. Dr. Boyette’s brother was diagnosed with PSC about five years ago and patients often progress to liver failure in about 10 years.
Dr. Boyette credits her brother with identifying her role in life and with her endless dedication to building a cure. At the same time, her brother, co-founder and vice chairman of the executive board at Curable, believes that it is more than serendipity that he has a rare disease and his sister is a doctor and scientist. Dr. Boyette was a first year medical student when Jon first became ill, and he says his sister was born to make a great contribution to society, and he was born to be her catalyst. Their endeavor is a true family affair; their sister Katie also works for the foundation.
“My brother was the catalyst for what has become a laser-focused, purpose-driven career, and he has made that possible through his involvement in my work,” she says. “My love for him is one of the biggest drivers to keep going when the work gets very hard.”
Dr. Boyette’s skill as a strong collaborator has paid huge dividends. Before launching Curable, she made a point of meeting with all of the PSC stakeholders — pharma companies, researchers, and patient advocacy groups — to explain her mission and ways in which they could work together most effectively. In a very short time, Dr. Boyette has been able to recruit an impressive cadre of PSC spokespeople. They include former NFL Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka, who serves as a Curable board member in honor of his friend and star running back Walter Payton who died of PSC-related cancer. Several PSC patients, such as Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug, professional basketball player DeMarre Carroll, and Robert Redford’s son screenwriter James Redford, are also actively involved. In addition, Dr. Boyette works closely with many families who have a member with PSC.
Within five years, Dr. Boyette intends to have several new therapeutic options and an early diagnostic in Phase II trials for PSC.
To achieve her ambitious goals, Dr. Boyette created a full-time team of professionals with diverse backgrounds and skill sets to oversee a multi-layered platform of targeted research, which includes both new discovery to fill in knowledge gaps and integrated analysis of existing datasets to identify connections that may have been missed previously. The team is now working to harness a group of supercomputers capable of cognitive analysis and machine learning to find, compile, organize, and network known data for the human team.
Dr. Boyette’s efforts reach far beyond her brother; she is greatly motivated by the patients and families who are depending on science to do something that’s never been done before.
Families who have had the chance to interact with Dr. Boyette say they are encouraged and hopeful that she will develop a therapy or a cure for PSC.
“I won’t let barriers, no matter how insurmountable they seem, stop me from building a cure for primary sclerosing cholangitis,” Dr. Boyette says. “Patients living with a life-threatening disease every day inspire me to work smarter and keep finding a better way to move us all forward.”
A compassionate woman, who is always looking for ways to give back to the community, Dr. Boyette has provided medical care at both the Mattaponi Healing Eagle Reservation Free Clinic and the Remote Area Medical Free Clinic. She also served as a Grand Awards Judge at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.
Dr. Boyette is also a mentor inside her organization and out, providing encouragement and strength to many, particularly women, and is credited with contributing to their success in the scientific field.
CompanY: Confideo LLC
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Boston College
Family: Parents; brother; fiancé
Hobbies: Surfing, soccer, skiing, auto racing, traveling the world
Bucket List: Race a vintage Alfa Romeo in the Mille Miglia; climb Mount Kilimanjaro; pilot an airplane (solo flight)
Awards/Honors: AdAge Small Agency of The Year, 2010; DM News Thirty Under 30, 2011; PM360 Pharma’s Outstanding Innovators, 2012; PM360 Exceptional Innovators, 2013;
PM360 Trailblazer Gold Award, 2014; PM360 Outstanding Innovators in Pharma Marketing, 2014; PM360 Digital Healthcare Startups You Really Should Know About, 2015;
SXSWi Impact Pediatric Health Pitch Contest Winner, 2016; PM360 ELITE Entrepreneur Award Winner, 2016
Associations: Sports Car Club of America — Barber Formula Race Series Driver
On the Edge of Technology Innovation
The founder of Confideo Mike Marett is an entrepreneur who has successfully launched multiple new businesses and guided the commercialization of award-winning digital products/platforms within healthcare and technology.
His current venture, Confideo, has two divisions. Confideo Labs advances progressive and immersive engagement platforms and channels, such as virtual reality, having created the industry’s first to market VR platform, DoctorVirtualis. Confideo Ventures accelerates the commercialization of health tech startups to ensure viability and success. As a result, Mr. Marett also functions as chief commercial officer of Cohero Health, senior VP of Gobiquity, and consultant/advisor to a range of other award-winning early-stage health tech, mobile health, media, and digital health companies focused on a variety of sectors.
Technology’s rapid advancement, Mr. Marett says, has been a major catalyst for enabling expedited innovation. Colleagues say Mr. Marett possesses insightful knowledge of the evolving digital landscape, combining a deep understanding of specific technologies with broad market trends and channels. His ability to synthesize information and define opportunity helps clients confidently understand emerging platforms and navigate new business models.
Mr. Marett is also an inspiring leader, bringing strong personal values of trust, teamwork, and integrity to often stressful and challenging work.
He says his biggest career highlights come from teaming up with talented and motivated colleagues to spearhead the successful global launch of two previous businesses that built compelling products that generated meaningful value for stakeholders and achieved hyper-growth revenue.
“The formation and evolution of these ventures enabled me to earn humbling accolades, which I am proud of, but mostly I am grateful for the experience,” he says. “As a result I learned more than I could have ever hoped, formed fantastic relationships, and gained the tools needed to launch Confideo, and effectively guide other entrepreneurs as they aim to disrupt the industry and commercialize new products and services.”
He wants to be remembered as someone who took risks; pioneered innovative products and services; was collaborative, honest, and constructive; and exceeded expectations.
“I would like to think that I inspire others by working hard, ethically, and efficiently to eclipse goals and set an example,” he says. “I am fortunate to work with a range of inventive clients, partners, and products so inspiration is all around me. I use that energy and enthusiasm to motivate me, so I try to pay it forward through exemplary teamwork, communication, transparency, and creativity. I hope this in combination inspires others to work smarter and be happier.”
Colleagues say Mr. Marett always looks to support the broader technology, marketing, and life-sciences communities, constantly linking resources and people working on similar projects, sharing information, and bringing long-term value to his clients, colleagues, and friends.
Mr. Marett enjoys being on the edge of innovation.
“I aim to identify and harness emerging trends to support the development of transformative products and unlock new technologies to better engage and educate healthcare stakeholders,” he says. “I enjoy crafting plans to guide strategic commercialization and development. Typically this transcends strategy, corporate development, marketing, branding, and business development efforts.”
He stays motivated by the opportunity to grow and learn, and the potential to make a meaningful impact.
“I am incredibly fortunate to run a business that fosters progressive platforms — i.e., virtual reality — and support the strategic commercialization of a range of groundbreaking companies; it’s a blast,” Mr. Marett says.
Jay Lichter, Ph.D.
Titles: Managing Director (Avalon), President and CEO (COI)
Companies: Avalon Ventures and COI Pharmaceuticals
Education: Ph.D., University of Illinois; BS, University of Illinois
Family: Wife Sue; daughters Elle and Erin
Hobbies: Road bike riding
Bucket List: Ride a bike on every continent
Making Innovation Happen
Jay Lichter, Ph.D., is a healthcare innovator who has an incredible track record in establishing companies that meet unmet medical needs. He has been one of the visionaries around a novel collaboration model for venture capture to work more closely with companies within the pharmaceutical industry. As managing director at Avalon Ventures, he created COI Pharmaceuticals in 2013, an unconventional venture-pharma entity that provides life-sciences inventors with an environment where entrepreneurial and scientific risks are encouraged and rewarded.
A strategic collaboration between Avalon Ventures and GSK is the first of its kind in the industry, a build-to-buy concept, with a portfolio approach to managing the progression of companies through drug discovery. Dr. Lichter is very active in managing the collaboration, expanding the model, and delivering new therapies to patients.
Dr. Lichter calls the collaboration with GSK and the COI incubator a career highlight. The collaboration has resulted in eight new companies.
COI now has more than 50 employees and is a model for incubator development in San Diego and beyond.
He has been instrumental in the founding, development, and the success of companies such as Otonomy, Avelas Biosciences, Afraxis, RQx, Aratana, and AristaMD.
Dr. Lichter’s influence on the pharmaceutical space began with the founding of his first company, Sequana Therapeutics, which specialized in the discovery of genes that were associated with certain diseases, a novel idea for a biotechnology company at the time.
He also founded Otonomy, after he was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear that causes severe dizziness, ringing in the ears, hearing loss, and a feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear. He recognized the opportunity for an efficient drug delivery approach to address the unmet needs in hearing and balance disorders. Founding Otonomy resulted in a publicly traded, fully integrated commercial pharmaceutical company focused on addressing the unmet needs in otology. Since it’s creation, Otonomy has overcome the drug delivery limitations that had been plaguing the otology market, and launched its first product approved by the FDA for the treatment of pediatric patients with bilateral otitis media with effusion undergoing ear tube placement, and has advanced multiple product candidates into development.
He also holds more than 260 patents and patent applications for six Avalon portfolio companies, including 78 issued patents and has been involved in licensing or merger and acquisition deals valued in excess of $1 billion.
Dr. Lichter has continued to support — via investment and invention — a critical phase of biopharma, early drug discovery. When many investors have abandoned early projects, Avalon Ventures has started some of the most innovative and important companies in the last five years. These are companies across the therapeutic area spectrum.
Colleagues say he choses innovation as the guiding principle for investment in this space. Without courageous investors such as Dr. Lichter, the industry would eventually not be the source of improved human health. At the same time, he applies just as much emphasis and empowerment to the individuality and capabilities of his management teams as he does to the technologies and business structures.
Those who have worked with Dr. Lichter say he applies the same creative, unrestricted, and open-minded mentality to working with his management teams. He acts as both the lightening bolt and the rod for issues and opportunities. He is willing to let people think outside of the box and discuss what is possible. And, importantly, he demonstrates what he expects of his management teams.
“Building teams that function better is good for business and good for a fun working environment,” he says.
Kate Hersov, MBChB
Title: CEO and Co-founder
Education: MBChB, Medicine, University of Otago
Family: Husband Rob; daughter Inara, 4; son Finn, 1; teenage stepsons Alex and Luke
Bucket List: Build a Medikidz theme park ride that allows children to zoom around inside blood vessels, breathing lungs, a beating heart
Awards/Honors: DTC National Advertising Awards, 2016; Desmond Tutu Global Achievement Award for Excellence 2015; CNBC’s UK’s Tech Industry Top Women Entrepreneurs; Demeter Award; NatWest Everywoman 2013; Entrepreneur of the Future Women of the Future Awards 2012; Management Today’s 35 Women Under 35; Management Today 2011; Start-Ups 100 Shortlist 2010; London Business Innovation of the Year Archant London Business Awards 2010
A Superhero for Kids’ Health
Dr. Kate Hersov, who after working in pediatrics, became frustrated with the lack of engaging education for her young patients. During her time as a doctor, she was unable to provide children with resources to help educate them about their new diagnoses or medicines in their language, and at their level.
This led her in 2009 to create — along with a colleague from medical school — Medikidz, a children’s medical education company that provides unique learning materials, harnessing the power of superheroes. More than 4 million Medikidz comic books have been distributed globally, into 50 countries and 30 different languages, involving more than 6,400 leading specialist physician peer reviewers and more than 100 endorsing partners worldwide.
The Medikidz are a group of five larger-than-life superheroes, each of whom specializes in a different part of the human body. The superheroes are from Mediland, a living, moving planet shaped just like the human body. The characters are designed to be fun and appealing to young people so that entertainment and education can happen in tandem.
So far, Medikidz has covered more than 120 therapeutic areas, educating young people on conditions they may be affected by such as leukemia, asthma, and epilepsy, or helping children overcome the fear and anxiety that is faced when an older loved one is ill such as with breast cancer, stroke, dementia, and multiple sclerosis. A core pillar of Medikidz is collaboration, and clients include hundreds of leading healthcare companies, such as Amgen, Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Medtronic, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi.
“We believe in the power of the collective and doing better together,” Dr. Hersov says. “We collaborate across a disease community, and across the world. Collaboration increases the chances of associations between ideas that result in an innovative combination.”
As CEO, Dr. Hersov’s goal for the company is to touch the lives of 100 million young people globally to help them be healthier and happier and to be the most recognized and trusted global brand for children’s health.
In developing these programs, she makes sure to bring the whole disease stakeholder community together to ensure the credibility of the programs. The content is all written by doctors and co-authored by comic book writers. What started off with comic books has now evolved into digital formats such as apps, augmented-reality, and games. And brave souls don the white Lycra superhero costumes as Medikidz during company-hosted disease awareness days, school programs, and hospital visits.
The company is also developing a platform to provide a special in-patient digital Medikidz series for children’s hospitals so patients can access the education at the bedside. The company is looking to drive patient-centricity in pediatric clinical trials by providing multiformat education and retention programs and is developing a platform to support young patients affected by chronic diseases transition in care from pediatrics to adult. Recently, Medikidz formed a collaboration with the Child Mind Institute to provide education resources for those with mental health and learning disorders.
Dr. Hersov says she has been inspired by Jim Henson, for his creativity and passion that enriched the lives of countless children, and by knowing that we can change the world by changing the attitudes of our children.
“Jim Henson set out to make the world a better place,” she says. “He wanted to change attitudes, he wanted to change lives. He wanted to inspire laughter, he wanted to have a positive impact.”
She works to inspire others by reminding her colleagues that their goal is to empower children to lead healthier and happier lives.
“I feel truly passionate about Medikidz, its goals, and the work itself,” she says.
For Dr. Hersov, a career highlight was when Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as the spokesperson of the launch of Medikidz, said: “This empowerment of children is one of the most splendid things to have emerged in modern medicine.”
The transition from doctor to entrepreneur has been one of her biggest challenge sos far, saying she had to go from reading blood test results and X-rays to P&L sheets and cashflow forecasts. And it looks like she followed her own advice: Be bold; be kind; be fearless; be grateful; be you. (PV)