MassBio 2016 Annual Meeting Highlights

Apr 07, 2016

More than 450 professionals in the life sciences industry joined MassBio at the 2016 Annual Meeting, featuring keynote addresses from High School Honors Student, Athlete and CF Advocate Kate Marshall and Dr. Tony Coles, Chairman & CEO of Yumanity Therapeutics.

At this year's meeting, biotech executives, regulators, entrepreneurs and funders all came together to discuss hot topics affecting the industry. Conversations covered subjects such as price & value, advanced manufacturing, digital healthcare and more over a two-day period.




The Annual Meeting began with opening remarks from Bob Coughlin, President & CEO of MassBio. Bob addressed the need for industry professionals to lead the public discussion on debated issues affecting life sciences, saying “it's time for us to start getting loud– what we do saves lives.” Bob also thanked outgoing Chairman of the Board, Glenn Batchelder, for his service and dedication to the MassBio community.

Bob also welcomed Abbie Celniker as the incoming chairwoman of the MassBio Board of Directors. Abbie shared her thoughts on improving gender and racial diversity in the industry, as well as supporting small companies: “One of the things we are going to focus on is small company formation,” she said. “This is the root of our ecosystem.”

Following Abbie, Radius Health CEO Robert Ward discussed the value of medical innovation and later introduced Governor Charlie Baker, who took the stage sporting a freshly-shaved head– an effort to raise money for cancer research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Governor Baker invited MassBio members to join the effort next year.

In his opening remarks, Baker acknowledged MassBio CEO Bob Coughlin as “someone who's always thinking about what's next” in life sciences. Baker's address set the tone for a thoughtful discourse on patient access and drug pricing. The governor shared his plan to invest heavily in transportation and education. The investment, he shared, will help the life sciences industry recruit qualified individuals.

Baker closed his address by sharing some optimistic views about life sciences in the Commonwealth and pledged his support: “we can be, will be and want to be a collaborator,” he said.

The crowd welcomed Kate Marshall, High School Honors Student, Athlete and CF Advocate, to the stage where she gave the opening keynote. Kate gave a moving address where she spoke about the journey she shared with her family, friends and teammates as a cystic fibrosis patient and advocate. Kate proved to be an inspiring young woman and will undoubtedly continue to champion the advancement of the work we all do.

After thanking Kate with a standing ovation, the crowd moved to the first breakout session of the meeting, covering Manufacturing in the Digital Age in the Better Business Track, and The Microbiome in the Trends in Science Track. Panelists shared their unique perspectives and the professional challenges they face.

At the Annual Awards Luncheon, Peter Abair, Executive Director of MassBioEd, presented Diman Regional Vocational High School with the 2015 Joshua Boger Innovative School of the Year Award. The school earned the award for its excellent biotech science education program. Students credited the MassBioEd BioTeach program for inspiring their interest in biotechnology.

John Maraganore, CEO of Alnylam, was honored with the Henri A. Termeer Innovative Leadership Award. MassBio recognized John's commitment to growing in Massachusetts and to leading the global conversation on the value of medical innovation. John shared his enthusiasm and energy with the crowd: pointing out the more than 500 biotech companies flourishing in the area and the collaboration that takes place between them.

“I have never been more excited about where this industry is going and the impact it can have on patients,” he said, “now is the time for us to get together as an industry and find solutions to growing value.”

Jeffrey Lockwood accepted the Leading Impact Award on behalf of Novartis, who noted the greatest impact is on the patients we serve.

After lunch, participants engaged in a discussion on Price & Value. Katrine Bosley, CEO of Editas, shared some insights on Price and Value: “We as an industry have to do better when explaining the societal value of innovative therapies,” she said. “In the areas where we pay the least, we see the least innovation,” she added, pointing to vaccines and antibiotics as examples.

Sessions on Biosimilars, Drug Discovery and Technology in Clinical Trials closed the first day of panel discussions, capped with a networking reception in the Grand Ballroom Foyer.



Day two began with two rounds of back-to-back breakout sessions: the first set focused on Immunotherapy in Combination, moderated by David Shapiro of Bristol Myers-Squibb, and The Future of Finance and Capital Markets, moderated by Francois Maisonrouge, Senior Managing Director at Evercore.

The morning continued with panel discussions on Innovative Pricing Models, moderated by Peter Pitts, President and Co-Founder of CPMI. This panel encouraged a broad approach to pricing: “Think about pricing models the way oncologists think about cancer,” said panelist Roger Longman, CEO of Real Endpoints. “The same solution doesn't work for everyone.”

At the same time, an exciting conversation about Science in Space facilitated by Dr. Ting Wu took place as part of the Trends in Science track. Panelists including Dr. George Church offered an insider's take on this exciting topic, including discussion on international treaties, ethical considerations and more.

Everyone returned to the ballroom for remarks from Congressman Richard Neal, who shared his thoughts on drug pricing, tax reform and the political season.

Next, Jeanne Blake, Founder of Blake Works, moderated a panel on the 2016 National Landscape. Discussions included the new FDA Commissioner, healthcare reform and cost containment. Dan Durham, Executive Vice President of BIO, discussed the importance of industry sharing more publicly how medical innovation improves and extends patient lives.

Amir Nashat, Managing Partner of Polaris agreed, adding: “It's time to stand on the side of our customers and stand up to the insurance companies to keep drugs accessible.”

During lunch, we welcomed four new towns to the BioReady® community. Ashland, Clinton, Needham and Saugus joined the list of more than 80 BioReady®-rated cities and towns in the state. The City of Malden was also acknowledged, improving its BioReady® rating to Platinum.

After lunch, HHS Regional Director Rachel Kaprielian offered her insights, saying “Healthcare is becoming more about wellness than sickness.” Kaprielian offered words of encouragement and committed support, offering an open door for thoughts on how we can achieve healthier people and save money. “Continue the great work so that we can achieve mutual goals,” she said.

Dr. Tony Coles, CEO of Yumanity Therapeutics, gave the closing keynote. Dr. Coles offered insight on the contentious conversation around the industry during this campaign season — adding that he believes the conversation provides an opportunity to evolve and change. “If we put our head in the sand and ignore that innovation requires us to [innovate in pricing], we lose an opportunity,” he said. 

Sticking with tradition, we ended the Annual Meeting on a sweet note – with a delicious dessert buffet and networking, of course!

Thank you to all who attended our Annual Meeting and to our speakers and sponsors for collaborating and making it such a successful two days. We look forward to seeing you next year!

Photos by Sean Browne.

You can view more detailed perspectives of the 2016 MassBio Annual Meeting through the media coverage the event received:

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