July 'On the Road' with Stephen Rapundalo
Thursday, July 16, 2015
June ended with a visit to The Henry Ford Innovation Institute (HFII). There I caught up with Stephen Bartol, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Innovations and Mark Coticchia, Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer. They updated me on the fantastic work going at the Institute including the creation of a fellowship program to develop leaders empowered to address healthcare technology challenges through innovative solutions and entrepreneurial approaches. In September 2015, HFII will welcome its second class of innovation fellows and plans to fill some of that cohort with applicants from outside the institution. More details about the program and application can be found here.
I made a quick day-long, return trip to Washington, DC as MichBio and 15 other state bioscience associations co-hosted our annual Capitol Hill educational briefing on June 24. This year’s topic “FDA User Fee Programs: Advancing Cures, Helping Patients”, brought together various stakeholders who presented their perspectives on the effectiveness of FDA User Fees (i.e., PDUFA, MDUFA, etc.). This included representatives from the FDA, patient advocacy groups (National Health Council), and bio-industry groups (AdvaMed, MDMA, BIO, and PhRMA). The timing of the briefing coincides with the launch of public discussion and industry-FDA negotiations regarding the fee programs prior to their next Congressional reauthorization. House and Senate briefings were held separately to packed audiences made up of staffers and sponsoring legislators.
This month’s activities began with a MichBio U webinar right before the July 4th break. We featured G2G Consulting, a MichBio Preferred Provider, who presented on the 2015 Military Health Systems Research Symposium. The event is slated for August 17-20, 2015 and is the U.S. military’s premier meeting for bio-industry funding, R&D partnerships, and collaborative innovation. G2G walked the almost two dozen webinar registrants through the symposium’s structure, preparation for attendance and partnering, and possible technology alignment with the event.
After the holiday weekend, MichBio hosted its 2nd CEO Leaders’ Club event of the 2015 season. It featured John Lechleiter, PhD, CEO of Eli Lilly Company. He spoke on his ascent from a bench scientist with the company in 1979 to heading up the corporation since 2009. Leadership values and principles, talent development and succession planning, and the need for companies to engage on legislative and policy issues, were just some of the topics discussed during the two-hour breakfast program. A full complement of attendees created a great buzz of networking. We’re greatly appreciative of the funding support for the CEO Leaders’ Club series from AlixPartners.
Last week closed out with several meetings with member companies. First, David McGuire and I met with Richard Harte, VP for Healthcare at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. I’m pleased to report that the company agreed to continue its sponsorship of the MichBio U webinar series through 2016. Be sure to check out our events calendar regularly – our next webinar is slated for July 28th. Also, I met with Francis Glorie, President and CEO of Phasiq based at the Michigan Life Sciences Innovation Center in Plymouth. We discussed their near term growth plans and how MichBio could assist the company through our BioConnections B2B referral program.
I participated in several national telecoms on legislative policy and advocacy matters. The first one being a Council of State Bioscience Associations (CSBA) meeting that was a call to action regarding H.R. 9, otherwise referred to as the Innovation Act. MichBio stands in opposition to the legislation in conjunction with BIO and other industry groups. Without substantive changes, we remain concerned that the bill would impose unreasonable challenges for innovative small companies seeking to protect their intellectual property and make it more difficult for them enforce their patents. For example, investors would be personally liable for the legal fees of an alleged infringer if the plaintiff does not prevail. Under the proposed legislation, Post Grant Review rules would allow infringers a low cost method to try and invalidate patents at the Patent Office, rather than in court. Witness how some hedge funds are using this law to sell stocks short and file to invalidate the company’s patent for the sole purpose of manipulating the stock price. MichBio continues to advocate with Michigan’s Congressional delegation to oppose H.R. 9 that comes up for a House vote next week. Our companies are strongly encouraged to contact their Congressional House legislator and ask them to vote no on H.R. 9.
The report finishes up with my regular visit to Genesys Health where we continue to partner with the institution in developing their on-campus life science innovation cluster. Also, this week is my monthly meeting of University of Michigan Biosafety IRB Committee where I serve as one of two external community representatives.
Lastly, let me put in a plug for the inaugural “Cutting Edge / Drug Discovery and Development in Michigan Symposium” that will take place on September 9-10 at the Kellogg Conference Center in East Lansing. Visit michbio.org/mi-drug-discovery for more details about the program, speakers, poster session, and exhibit/sponsorship opportunities. It’s an exciting event that we’re co-presenting with the URC and is being hosted by Michigan State University.
We’ll catch up with you in mid-August.