As COVID-19 brought the world to a screeching halt, biotech leaders worked tirelessly behind the scenes to advance new medicines that would change the course of the pandemic entirely. For Jacqueline Miller, M.D. and therapeutic area head for infectious diseases, that meant spearheading Moderna’s vaccine development. About two years after the start of the pandemic, members of our healthcare team had the privilege of hearing from industry leaders including Dr. Miller at our first in-person industry meeting since 2020.
At STAT’s “Battle Scars: The Journey from Lab to Patient’s Bedside” event, we learned more about the trials and tribulations of drug development and networked with other professionals in the biotech space. From the initial research and development to the final manufacturing process, the program brought together a diverse group of perspectives to share individual journeys across the drug development process: their origins in the field, what work they are closest to (from financing a drug to discovering new therapies) and how they define success. In this sense, the event paralleled our diverse work at PAN across the pharma continuum, which spans a variety of companies supporting the drug discovery and development life cycle from life sciences tools to Contract Research Organizations (CROs).
About two years after the start of the pandemic, members of our healthcare team had the privilege of hearing from industry leaders at our first in-person industry meeting since 2020.
Drug discovery and development is not a one-size-fits-all process. For example, Leslie Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., co-founder and medical director of the Progeria Research Foundation, has spent years working tirelessly to bring rare disease treatment to the hands of children across the world. We also heard from Pat Walters, Ph.D., chief data officer at Relay Therapeutics, on the lasting impact of research and development and from Diana Brainard, M.D., chief executive officer of AlloVir, on developing the popular RNA antiviral remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19. At the end of the day, all their stories reflected months — if not years — of tireless work in just five minutes or less but served as an important reminder that success in pharma and biotech is not quick nor linear, and with challenges come unique opportunities for new approaches, solutions and partnerships.
The session wrapped with STAT reporters Adam Feuerstein, Allison DeAngelis and Matthew Herper sharing some of the highs and lows of their personal experiences reporting on drug development. As journalists and communicators, we have the unique opportunity to not only have a front row seat to some of these stories, but to make sure that they are being heard.
Stories from the biotech trenches, such as Dr. Miller’s, immediately put our work as communicators into perspective. Hearing their recounts firsthand adds purpose to us as PR practitioners and serves as a reminder that healthcare PR impacts real patient lives.
Often, we can be so enthralled in sharing the final product with the world — whether that be the impressive funding round, the product launch, or the perfectly-cultivated announcement — that it can be easy to overlook the importance of the process.