The Boston CMO Network

“We are rapidly becoming the major biotech/pharma hub in the US.  As senior medical leaders, we should be meeting to discuss critical industry issues, network, and expand our horizons beyond the day-to-day activities in our respective organizations.  We can learn about progress, share our experiences & ideas and, of course, describe our challenges and success stories.” Akshay Vaishnaw, Chief Medical Officer, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals

The idea for the Boston CMO Network grew out of discussions between Akshay Vaishnaw, Chief Medical Officer for Alnylam and other senior physician executives in the Boston biotech hub.  They all recognized a need for Boston-area biotech and pharma medical leaders to meet periodically to exchange ideas, network, and share interesting news and opinions. Steve Rauscher of BioPharm Physicians worked with the group to organize and plan activities.  Al Sandrock, SVP of Medical Research-Neurology at Biogen Idec graciously agreed to host the first event.

Boston CMO Network Inaugural Event

On November 10, 2011, the Boston CMO Network held its first networking event at the Biogenic Idec Cambridge campus.  Fifty senior physician executives from the Boston area biotech and pharmaceutical industry gathered to hear Christoph Westphal MD PhD, Founder and Partner of Longwood Fund, present “Ups and Downs for Drug Innovation — a Dozen Years in Boston Biotech”.  A lively Q&A session ensued, which continued during the reception that followed.

Future Events

Attendees were surveyed about upcoming events.  Most recommended that 3 or 4 events per year would be the ideal frequency.  Suggested ideas for future topics included the following:

  • Presentations by larger biotech firms on what their companies are seeking to bring in house
  • Recent changes in the biotech landscape in Cambridge
  • Effect of the economy on start-ups
  • Trends in therapeutic targets
  • Funding issues facing start ups:
  • Tips on VC road-shows and raising money
  • Big Pharma partnerships as a source of funding and resources
  • BD/in-licensing/partnering as a way to either grow your portfolio or sustain your company; potential benefits and pitfalls
  • Personalized medicine, new clinical trial design with POC moving to(wards) Phase I, targeted therapeutics with efficacy-predictive biomarkers
  • Best tools for keeping abreast of information
  • Managing talent:  how to acquire and keep the best
  • Issues on our future:
  • Nanotechnology – is it the future?
  • RNA based technology – is there a future?
  • Generics/Biosimilars – will they take away our future?
  • Companion diagnostic development
  • New trial designs and trends in outcomes research
  • Effects of evolving regulatory standards changes in payer philosophy and criteria for reimbursement

  • The next Boston CMO Network Event is planned for late February or early March, 2012

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