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CEO Innovators Combating Drug Resistance: An Entrepreneurial Leadership Perspective

Lawrence Jones, PhD

On September 6, 2018, BioBuzz convened a CEO innovators discussion at the Columbus Center Baltimore Inner Harbor.  Three successful entrepreneurial leaders in biotechnology professed an informative panel discussion on novel and state of the art ways to address drug resistance. The moderator, Charles Andres, Ph.D., JD representing Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati asked robust questions which provided exciting conversations based on scientific concepts, personal experiences, and prescriptive considerations for biotech entrepreneurial survival. The panelist Carol A. Nacy, Ph.D. co-Founder /CEO, Sequella Inc., Mina Izadoo, Ph.D. – President & CSO, Integrated Pharma Services and Greg Merril – CEO, Adaptive Phage Therapeutics provided professional expertise on the regulatory landscapes and fiscal accountabilities of research and development.

The panelist all emphasized the concern over the increasing rise of drug-resistant microbes. They added that unfortunately, large biopharma companies might not be able to move as quickly in the research and development of new drugs for several reasons.  Jones (2018) explains that  entrepreneurial leadership is a crossroad of leadership and entrepreneurship (Renko, Tarabishy, Carsrud, & Brännback, 2015).  Entrepreneurial leadership is a distinctive leadership style that has no boundary for a specific organization or industry (Gupta et al., 2004). The panel provided substantive examples of their exposures to industry, government, military laboratories, and international travels.

Their experiences provided backdrops for “their” stories on how they came to be the CEO scientists and entrepreneurial leaders. Gupta, MacMillan, and Surie (2004)  profess that entrepreneurial leadership may have two distinct challenges: (a) transforming a situation and (b) convincing stakeholders and followers that certain steps and actions must be executed to bring about the necessary effects (Jones, 2018, p.2).  As entrepreneurial leaders, the panelists spoke about how the big biopharma companies often wait and observe the research and development outcomes of the smaller companies until they show real promise. Gancz (2018) mentions the “Charles Andres, the moderator, introduced the topic and gave a brief overview of the field and the players, wondering about the disappearance of big-Pharma from the antimicrobial R&D field” (p.1). The panelist professed advantages of small company’s abilities when it comes to innovation. Gancz points out that “the ‘problem’ of antibiotic stewardship was compensation to the developer which potentially caused hindrances for more research and development. There is room for new approaches to address many of the new issues head on.  The understanding and appreciation of science may remain the same however the approach to gaining financial assistance to unlock faster research and development will require more creative methods than ever.

Columbus Center (2018). http://columbuscenter.usmd.edu/about-us
Gancz,H.(2018). https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ceo-talks-06sep2018-innovators-combating-drug-resistance-hanan-gancz/
Gupta, V., MacMillan, I. C., & Surie, G. (2004). Entrepreneurial leadership: developing and measuring a cross-cultural construct. Journal of Business Venturing, 19(2), 241-260.
Frew, C. (2018). https://biobuzz.io/
Jones II, L. (2018). An Exploratory Quantitative Comparison of Direct Reports’ Perceptions of Entrepreneurial Leadership of Biotechnology Founders versus Nonbiotechnology Founders (Regent University).
Renko, M., El Tarabishy, A., Carsrud, A. L., & Brännback, M. (2015). Understanding and measuring entrepreneurial leadership style. Journal of Small Business Management, 53(1), 54-74.

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