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3 Drivers of Patient Centric R & D

Nick Hicks

Welcome to this episode of If Medicine Could Talk, and today I'm delighted to be speaking with Jennifer Chase, who advises Life Science companies on Leadership.  Jennifer, welcome.

Jennifer Chase

Thank you, Nick

Nick Hicks

Well, you've recently had a very interesting paper published in BioProcess International, because it really is, patient-centricity starts in the test tube with the research leaders. And could you just give a very top line of what the paper is about?

Jennifer Chase

 I interviewed  people in innovation leadership roles whiling filling certain key positions for clients and while doing so began to understand the trends, challenges and needs of leaders in scientific roles like heads of innovation. This paper summarizes these findings and highlights traits of successful drug developer.

Nick Hicks

What would you say are the three main trends which you saw coming out of that paper?

Jennifer Chase

Clearly, disruptive innovators are entering the marketplace. Because of that, you see a co-dependence of a number of different types of companies, including Big Pharma, small biotechs and medical academia. And because of the co-dependence, there is a greater need for soft skills and leadership in order to facilitate working across those boundaries. Last but not least, the emotional intelligence of all of these leaders will play a big part in the success of drug development.

Passion for the Patient Rules

Nick Hicks

Well, you've just had a very interesting paper published in BioProcess International because it really is, patient centricity starts in the test tube with the research leaders. And could you just give a very top line of what the paper is about.  They are the heads of R&D of some pretty major companies. They actually go and talk to the patients directly. They're not distant. They go and talk to them. Can you explain that a little bit more about what they do?

Jennifer Chase

Understanding the patient is fundamental in transferring that knowledge from the patient to the science. And so understanding the needs of the patient is fundamental not necessarily having direct contact with the patient. Most importantly, innovative drug development leaders must share with all their constituents throughout the process their purpose or how their work will help the lives of patients suffering from the specific disease.

Jennifer Chase

Clear communication across a highly diverse group of stakeholder can be a daunting task because it requires leaders to actively listen and communicate effectively across cultural boundaries with functional experts both in research, academia, government as well as the private sector.

Constantly maintaining purpose and passion for the patient need across this dynamic and fluid  network is fundamental to the success of bringing patients breakthrough drugs.

Emotional Agility is Needed

Nick Hicks

Do any sort of characteristics of the really successful companies jump out?

Jennifer Chase

Well, I don't think that any drug developer will say that there is a fixed leadership style or defined pathway necessary for successful innovative drug development.

That said, certain soft skills allow innovation leaders to help their teams hit key milestones. Companies that encourage leadership team to be adaptable, agile and share their passion for solving patience needs ultimately drive innovative drug development.

What EI Skills are Important

Nick Hicks

If you had to summarize the three main characteristics of emotional intelligence, which these are R&D leaders, now show, now need to show, what would they be?

Jennifer Chase

Empathy is clearly one. Comfortable with constant risk is another. Audacity, maintaining focus on the patient need is very important and also the ability to delegate; a drug is not put to the market by one person alone. It's a network. And that ability to delegate is clearly a skill that all scientific leaders need today.

Overcoming Obstacles

Nick Hicks

Another question, reading through the publication I saw that there was talk about an inhibitors of innovation and creativity within the companies. Could you explain a little bit more about what are the principal ones and how can you resolve these?

Jennifer Chase

A constant theme that came up as I was interviewing these leaders is their constant ability to readjust according to clinical strategies, reevaluating regulatory and safety studies, reformulating plans. This requirements scientific leaders to be comfortable in a constantly changing environment. 

Jennifer Chase

Another requirement is not to "fall in love" with your science. It may be that there's an identified path forward that a scientist has dedicated his or her work, yet being able to leave that path if new data indicates that it is not the path best suited for the patient's needs. Also, it is critical for drug development leaders to never lose sight of their purpose, the patient need. Great innovative leaders will always adapt  to better serve their purpose, their patients. And last but not least is the personal ego of leaders which can get in the way of drug development. It is necessary to have ego, but a healthy collective ego. The collective ego of a team helps maintain the purpose and passion ultimately driving the success of a drug.

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