Reinventing Biotech’s Biz Model for the Big Apple: Key Thoughts for Xconomy’s Event on Oct. 4

Xconomy New York — 

We are getting really excited for our annual fall biotech event in New York, which this year has the theme of Reinventing Biotech’s Business Model for the Big Apple. It takes place this Thursday from 6:00-8:30 pm at the Apella event space at the Alexandria Center for Life Science.

We have a stellar lineup for this event. Kicking things off will be Sam Waksal, Founder & CEO, Kadmon Pharmaceuticals. Not only did he found Kadmon, and base it right in New York, he did the same thing with ImClone. After his opening talk, our panel comes out, featuring Kevin Kinsella, founder and managing director of Avalon Ventures, who helped build a biotech cluster in his home town of San Diego; Cancer Research Institute CEO Jill O’Donnell-Tormey; and Enumeral Biomedical CEO Arthur Tinkelenberg. They will dive deeper into some of the major issues confronting the life science industry in New York. Dennis Purcell, senior managing partner at Aisling Capital, will be moderating this fascinating exchange, which will have plenty of room for audience questions.

You can register and get tickets at

To help whet our readers’ appetites for Thursday’s discussion, I asked a few of the panelists for their wish list of ideas to be addressed—issues they believe are crucial in figuring out how to build New York into a major center, not just for life sciences research, but for company creation.

Here is the first of the answers—from Jill O’Donnell-Tormey, who besides being the CEO of the Cancer Research Institute is also its Director of Scientific Affairs. Her foundation helps provide what may well be part of the answer to the question of how to nurturing the biotech community in New York: non-dilutive funding for companies tackling cancer. As you will read, she hopes Thursday’s discussion covers a lot of ground:

 Insights gleaned over of the past 10 years from cancer immunotherapy clinical and preclinical studies indicate that combination approaches—using two or more therapeutic agents together or in sequence—are likely to be the optimal way to recalibrate and amplify the human immune system’s anti-cancer response significantly enough to benefit cancer patients. Developing combination therapies creates a host of problems resulting from a drug development paradigm that for so long has been focused on single-agent development. A chicken and egg problem arises when companies require efficacy data on drug combinations before they’ll collaborate with one another, but must collaborate with one another in order to generate that data. What are biotech and pharma companies doing to solve these problems? What role do they see nonprofits playing in bridging proprietary roadblocks and creating “sandboxes” where drugs can be combined and tested in early-phase clinical studies?

Also, nonprofits have begun playing important roles in derisking early-stage drug development through direct investment, or venture philanthropy, in company pipelines. What rewards are companies willing to share with nonprofits should their philanthropy-derisked drugs achieve commercial success? What are the most attractive return-based deal structures that not only advance the company’s product development but also meet nonprofit mission objectives and provide future returns to be reinvested in further nonprofit research?

We plan to get to as many of these ideas as possible on Thursday night. And what the panel doesn’t discuss, we hope to dive into during the extensive networking session.

Once again, you can register for Reinventing Biotech’s Biz Model for the Big Apple here. We look forward to seeing you there.