Medical Innovation Exchange

Innovation and communication: Discussing the future of biotech

We are living in a period of what feels like an exponential rate of change when it comes to advances in technology and innovation.

In the healthcare space, new medicines and treatments are being progressed at unprecedented speed, the capability of the world’s scientific minds highlighted by the pandemic and rapid development of life-saving vaccinations.

In this interview, Fierce Biotech’s Rebecca Willumson is joined by not one but two subject matter experts – Mary Claire Duch, Deputy Group President of Real Chemistry, and Kathleen Tregoning, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Cerevel Therapeutics.

The duo offer their thoughts on the current landscape, touching on the excitement being generated by ongoing work in the neuroscience space, as well as how AI and other technologies are helping organizations to better connect with patients.

The conversation also touches on the critical nature of accurate, digestible and authoritative information, and how communications experts are responsible for ensuring the right messaging reaches physicians, patients and the wider public.

“There’s so much noise in the landscape,” Mary Claire tells us. “I think if anything that 2020 taught us, it was the level of misinformation that’s out there when it comes to healthcare and making sure the patients have the information that they need.”

Watch the full interview to discover more.

Rebecca Willumson: Hi there, my name’s Rebecca Willumson. I’m the publisher of Fierce Biotech and I’m here today with Mary Claire Duch, Deputy Group President of Real Chemistry, and Kathleen Tregoning, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer at Cerevel Therapeutics. Thank you for joining me.

Mary Claire Duch: Thanks for having us.

Rebecca Willumson: While we think about the future of Biotech, where do you see the biggest oppportunity for the industry moving forward? Kathleen, going to you can start with you.

Kathleen Tregoning: Great. Well, first of all, thanks for having us here today. It’s great to be here. As you mentioned, I’m with Cerevel Therapeutics, and Cerevel is a company. We’ve been around for about five years, and we are dedicated to unraveling industries of the brain. We’re very much focused on neuroscience, and I would say I think Neuroscience is one of the most exciting areas for biotech. We’re really seeing a renaissance and a resurgence of investment and interest in this area. It’s so critical as you think about an aging population and the diseases of the brain that come with that. And so more investment in neuroscience and Cerevel is very proud to be at the forefront of that. We are developing therapies right now for schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and other conditions. And so, we think a huge amount of promise as more technology and greater understanding of how the brain has wired has facilitated during development in this area.

Marie Claire Duch: Yeah, thanks for having us echoing Kathleen’s sentiments. So, I’m with Real Chemistry and integrated marketing agency, so I look at things from a bit of a communications angle. So what really excites me is the ability to which we’re now able to really efficiently and effectively reach patients with that critical information they need in order to make healthcare decisions. And I think there’s such a huge opportunity, whether that’s through AI. So, we have a Real Chemistry proprietary AI platform that uses de-identified patient data to actually find where patients are who might be misdiagnosed or undiagnosed with a given condition. And then companies are able to go out and speak with our physicians to give them some of that vital health information or whether it’s understanding patient behavior and knowing how patients might be receptive to information and how they’re best able to learn and internalize that and make their decisions. So, for me, that’s what I think is really exciting.

Rebecca Willumson: So, what emerging technologies or scientific advancements do you think will have the most significant impact in the coming years?

Kathleen Tregoning: Well, to piggyback off of what Mary Claire was saying, I think AI has a potential across so many industries to have a major impact in drug development, the ability to be more efficient in target discovery in designing molecules to address disease. I read some research recently that there’s an estimate that AI can help the industry as a whole develop 50 new medicines over about a decade that we might not have been able to get, but for that technology. So I think AI and the application of it, whether it’s to patient insights or to drug discovery, is really important. And then on the other end, I would echo what Mary Claire said, that continuing to pull in those patient insights, even as we get more technology to help with drug discovery, understanding the very human impact of those drugs and what they mean to patients and what patients want to see in the development of new therapies is going to be very important.

Mary Claire Duch: Yeah, I think it’s interesting when I think about technologies and where we’re going, I really do think it’s sort of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And I think there’s not any one given technology or advancement that’s going to make a difference. It’s really how you pull those together. So how you pull together diagnostics and biomarker testing, how you pull together advancements in manufacturing to make cell therapy gene therapy a reality. So, I think it’s really having people who can take sort of a holistic view of those scientific advancements and to ultimately apply them for patient benefit.

Rebecca Willumson: How do we believe strategic communications can play a pivotal role in positioning biotech companies for success in the evolving landscape?

Mary Claire Duch: Well, I think honestly, it’s more critical than ever, right? There’s so much noise in the landscape. There’s so much. I think if anything that 2020 taught us, it was the level of misinformation that’s out there when it comes to healthcare and kind of making sure the patients have the right information that they need. So I think truly having that concise, compelling narrative and being able to communicate in a way that really resonates across stakeholder groups and understanding you’re not just speaking to patients, you’re not just speaking to physicians. You really have to think of the interplay among them all, even among the investment community, and have that narrative that will sort of resonate and clearly communicate your information to all of them.

Kathleen Tregoning: I completely agree with Mary Claire in an age of information overload, what’s so important is that we don’t add to the noise that we cut through it, that we don’t add to the cacophony of voices, but that we provide as a company a clear and compelling voice so that people understand who we are. And I completely agree that aligning that across stakeholders, you’ve got to do the work internally as a company to make sure that you are connecting all the dots and not leaving it to the stakeholders on the outside to connect all the dots for you. And so in that age of so much information, be the signal, not the noise and strategic communication. It’s really about aligning all those different perspectives inside a company from the audiences they’re talking to. Because when you put something down on paper or you put words to ideas, that’s when you create a forum in which people can engage with them. And those words matter. And aligning those words and creating that compelling narrative is how you get your message out there and how you can differentiate from other organizations.

Rebecca Willumson: Well, that’s all the questions that I have. Thank you both for joining me today. I appreciate it.

Mary Claire Duch: Thank you.

Kathleen Tregoning: Glad to be here.

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