Vice President of Research for Immunology, Metabolic, and Viral Disease, Alnylam
As the fortunate recipient of a lot of medical care early in life, it was important for me to give back to the medical community. I started my pharma career at Biogen (now Biogen Idec), researching the importance of the tissue microenvironment to autoimmune and inflammatory disease. It's now become clear that not only do immune cells affect the environment they inhabit, but also that the nature of the organ or tissue that cells are in impacts how immune cells respond to and cause disease. At the time, it was a completely novel area of research and drug development. These days, at Alnylam, I work very closely with colleagues in advancing RNAi therapeutics as a transformative new class of drugs. This involves mentoring and helping direct internal research efforts on our therapeutic programs, and on advancing our drug delivery technology.
To me, working to develop and deliver RNAi therapeutics as a novel class of drug with the capability to target any gene in the genome represents an example of cutting-edge drug development. More than ever, companies are looking for innovative ways to tackle problems, many of which require a longer horizon to see progress. Younger CEOs expect to be on the job for a long time, and so may be more inclined to prioritize these long-term goals. I believe that maintaining an innovative science- and research-based culture will be key to ensuring that impactful drugs are developed.