Earlier this week, researchers from across UCB met in Washington, D.C. for the PhRMA Researcher Fly-In. While on Capitol Hill, the UCB team visited the offices of Representatives Doug Collins, Lucy McBath, and David Price, and Senators Johnny Isakson, Richard Burr, and Thom Tillis and walked their staff through the 15-year journey (on average) of how a new medicine is discovered, developed, and delivered at UCB. Each researcher, representing a different part of the drug development process, shared their personal stories about why they’re motivated each day to continue to innovate for patients.
Discovery – Dr. Jessica Williamson, from Massachusetts, shared her experience as a bench scientist at UCB. Her team is currently working to understand the roles of proteins and how we can modify them with medicines to treat unmet patient need in neurological, inflammatory, and bone diseases.
“Our work is challenging because it often fails - this is the nature of science. During any given day, our team is working on 20 or more projects,” said Dr. Williamson. “We are inspired by our patients who need the new innovations we might discover in the lab. So, even if 19 of these projects fail, we hope one might lead to a new medicine, 10 to 15 years from now. This is why we come back to the bench every day.”
Development – Dr. Pamela Doty and Kim Doggett, from North Carolina, represented UCB’s clinical development process. Dr. Doty’s team takes innovations that come out of labs, like Dr. Williamson’s, and works with other scientists and physicians to design clinical studies that make a meaningful difference for patients, built on deep understanding of patient needs as well as meeting requirements set by the regulatory agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The clinical development teams directly work with and listen to patients to better understand their unmet needs and what outcomes are most important to them.
“Talking to patients not only helps us do better science, but it may also help us bring solutions to patients faster. In a currently recruiting study, we’ve seen almost full recruitment in approximately 2 years for a study estimated to take up to 10 years to recruit,” shared Dr. Doty. “When we listen to patients, we can design studies that are meaningful for them to participate in.”
Once the study design is created from Dr. Doty’s team, it is handed off to Doggett’s team who works with investigators to make sure they have all the information they need to provide support and resources to their patients enrolled in a UCB clinical study.
Delivery – Representing the delivery process, Georgia-based Drs. Anca Pop and Mohamed Yassine, talked about their experience as physicians and how they support the medical community once a new UCB medicine is approved for use. Dr. Pop spoke about her time seeing patients in rural parts of Tennessee and North Carolina, and how oftentimes her patients had to drive 200 miles to receive specialized care. Further, Dr. Yassine shared about the innovative work UCB is doing to use artificial intelligence (AI) in various ways, including in clinical studies, to reach patients. He explained the need for more treatment options based on his personal experience as a practicing physician, and how real-world evidence can play an important role in accelerating the availability of new solutions for patients.
Thank you to the members of Congress who welcomed us to share what we’re most passionate about – innovating for the patients who are at the heart of everything we do. We look forward to continuing to engage with Congress and other health care stakeholders to ensure the important work of innovation is recognized, and ultimately, that the patient voice and their experience is heard.