Speechless in New York

April 1, 2002
Wayne Koberstein
Pharmaceutical Executive

Perseverance furthers. Those two unadorned words from the ancient I Ching were all that first entered my startled mind as I accepted the Oscar of business-to-business media-the Grand Neal Award.

Perseverance furthers. Those two unadorned words from the ancient I Ching were all that first entered my startled mind as I accepted the Oscar of business-to-business media-the Grand Neal Award.

Present to receive the Grand Neal Award were (center left to right) PE editors Joanna Breitstein, Wayne Koberstein, and Sibyl Shalo, flanked by Gordon Hughes (left), president & CEO, American Business Media, and Marshall Loeb (right), Neal Judging Chair and CBS MarketWatch columnist.

On March 13, at New York's Waldorf=Astoria, the American Business Media association presented the top prize in the Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Awards to Pharmaceutical Executive for its Discovery! series. (See February and June 2001.) Neal entrants represented hundreds of B-to-B publications in dozens of companies across the United States. Out of more than 1,000 entrants, 69 category finalists, and 23 category winners, only Pharm Exec won the Grand.

Trophy in hand, but without a prepared speech, I stepped to the mike and observed that the I Ching phrase applied especially to the Discovery! project. As editors, we had taken on a huge task with no outside prodding, knowing that its mission went beyond ordinary business to address critical long-term issues. Many times, we doubted our own ability and stamina as we put together the ambitious mix of lay-translated science, patient advocacy, and economic arguments for industry action in neurology and oncology research. Somehow, we persevered.

I described how the original idea for Discovery! came out of a conversation with a friend, Scott Darroch, paralyzed from the chest down by an accident in 1980. When I told him about new progress toward regrowing neurons from stem cells, Scott asked, "Why should pharma companies put money behind spinal-cord injury research when it represents such a small market?"

"Perhaps if we reminded them that the same research could also unlock much bigger markets, they would consider it," I answered. At that point, we "saw" the title Discovery! and the series of therapeutic-area reports the format could embrace.

As I thanked all the editors, my publisher, my company, and my friend, I also honored the celebrity patients the series featured-cancer survivors Mel Stottlemyre and Joe Torre of the

Yankees, Kathy Giusti of the Multiple Myeloma Foundation, and, of course, Chris Reeve, who bought into our concept early and helped make it happen.

In the end, we accomplished something bigger and more worthwhile than even we had imagined. Our pride, though real and deserved, must now be tempered by the higher standard we have set for ourselves in dedicated service to you, our readers.