Failures during the drug development process—most of which happen in phase 2 clinical trials—account for 75% of total research and development expenses, according to the National Academy of Sciences. The ability of biopharma executives to spot likely failures earlier in the development process could not only cut costs, it could also help transform some R&D roadblocks into future successes.

A successful “fail fast” strategy starts long before a drug candidate is ready to be tested in people. Companies can adopt several strategies to validate drug targets, such as looking for published research that contradicts their theories about how a compound might effectively combat a disease, using computer models to identify potential problems in preclinical drugs, and improving the analysis of efficacy signals recorded during phase 1 safety trials. This earlier focus on efficacy might also provide opportunities for revising R&D strategies to boost the probability of success.

This Fierce webinar will bring together executives with expertise in biopharma discovery, R&D and clinical trial design to discuss the benefits and challenges of the fail-fast strategy. It will include representatives of companies that have implemented such a strategy successfully and can provide advice on what did and did not work.

Featured Speakers

Catherine Stehman-Breen, M.D.

Chief Research and Development Officer
Obsidian Therapeutics

Dr. Catherine Stehman-Breen is the Chief Research and Development Officer at Obsidian Therapeutics. Dr. Stehman-Breen has over 15 years of experience in preclinical and clinical drug development including extensive knowledge of clinical development and regulatory affairs. Prior to joining Obsidian, she was an Entrepreneur-In-Residence at Atlas Venture, where she served as the Chief Medical Officer of Dyne Therapeutics and Disarm Therapeutics. Before that, Dr. Stehman-Breen served as the Chief Medical Officer of Sarepta Therapeutics. She was the Vice President of Global Development and Regulatory Affairs at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and served as Vice President, Global Development, at Amgen. Dr. Stehman-Breen holds a B.A. in Biology and Psychology from Colby College, an M.S. in Epidemiology from the University of Washington and an M.D. from the University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine.

Hans Moebius, M.D., Ph.D

Chief Medical Officer
Athira Pharma

Hans Moebius, M.D., Ph.D., is the Chief Medical Officer of Athira Pharma, a Seattle-based clinical-stage company developing innovative first-in-class regenerative therapies with the potential to restore brain function. Athira’s lead program, NDX-1017, is a small molecule designed to enhance the activity of a naturally occurring repair mechanism that has the potential to restore neuronal health and brain function. NDX-1017 will enter into Phase 2/3 clinical studies in 2020.

Successfully completed CNS developments include therapies for Alzheimer’s Disease (memantine; licensed out to Forest Labs NYC, Lundbeck/Copenhagen, Daiichi/Tokyo); Hepatic encephalopathy (LOLA), Lennox-Gastaut-Syndrome (rufinamide), Complex Partial Seizures (oxcarbazepine), dystonia/blepharospasm / post-stroke spasticity (Xeomin®, a botulium toxin A free of complexing proteins), and ADHD (Ritalin® SR). Dr. Moebius has received a number of professional distinctions, including the German Industry Innovation Award for the international development of memantine (Namenda®) in late-stage Alzheimer’s disease (2002).

Dr. Moebius earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the University of Kaiserslautern, Germany, and his Ph.D. degree in experimental pharmacology from the University of Heidelberg. He is a board-certified psychiatrist and neurologist who completed his medical studies at the Universities of Bordeaux/France, (West) Berlin, Heidelberg and Frankfurt/Germany.

Leah Rodriguez

Senior Manager
Research Solutions

Leah Rodriguez is Senior Manager for Product Marketing at Research Solutions, a SaaS company dedicated to providing award-winning, 24/7 on-demand access to scientific literature. She brings over 15 years of experience in product marketing and strategic marketing operations to the team and has held various positions within STM publishing, beginning her career at Nature Publishing Group and launching their first fully open-access scientific journal.

Nina Kjellson

General Partner

Nina Kjellson has been a General Partner at Canaan since 2015 and invests in biopharma and digital health start-ups that serve high unmet needs. She has 20 years of experience funding, growing and transacting early-stage companies. Current Canaan investments include Intrepida, Pact Pharma, Tizona, Tyra and Vineti. She also serves on the board of WellTok and previously served on the boards of Labrys (acquired by Teva), Cidara (CDTX), Trius (TSX, acquired by Cubist), Eiger (EIGR), NovaCardia (acquired by Merck) and co-sponsored investments into Paratek (PRTK), Tesaro (TSRO, acquired by GSK) and Aspreva (ASPV, acquired by Galenia), along with numerous other ventures during her tenure at InterWest Partners. As a leader of Canaan’s Women of Venture program, Nina is a vocal advocate for female entrepreneurs and investors. She serves as an advisor to Springboard Life Sciences, Nina Capital (no relation), The Gates Foundation and serves on the boards of Essential Access Health, Girl Effect and the Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Center. Nina is a 2018 Aspen Institute Health Innovators Fellow. Prior to InterWest and Canaan, Nina worked at Bay City Capital, Oracle Partners and the Kaiser Family Foundation. She holds a B.A. in human biology from Stanford University. Nina is an avid reader, is active in nature, runs, skis and loves to travel the world.


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