Learned from COVID-19: How the Biomedical Research Community Can Expedite Innovation


Media Advisory

Learned from COVID-19: How the Biomedical Research Community Can Expedite Innovation

Esther Krofah
Esther Krofah
Executive Director, FasterCures
Kristin Schneeman
Kristin Schneeman
Director, FasterCures


Washington, DC – January 25, 2021 – FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, today released a report highlighting 20 lessons learned during COVID-19 that can be preserved and enhanced to help speed cures to multiple diseases.

“Lessons Learned from COVID-19: Are There Silver Linings for Biomedical Innovation?” incorporates research and interviews with 36 key leaders in government, industry, academia, and the nonprofit sector. The report strives to learn from the past – including by examining what barriers slow down biomedical innovation – to highlight the progress made in research and development during the pandemic that can be applied to future efforts.

“The biomedical innovation community stepped up during this pandemic, driving groundbreaking advances in many critical areas,” said Esther Krofah, executive director of FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute. “These successes will be felt for years to come, and it is critical to protect the progress we’ve made. Building on these advances will take everyone, from policymakers to private industry, working together to make that a reality.”

Among those interviewed for the report were Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health; Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health; Scott Gottlieb, Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Margaret Hamburg, Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Science; Annalisa Jenkins, Chair of the Court, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; Peter Marks, Director, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, and Janet Woodcock, Senior Advisor, Food and Drug Administration. Their insights helped steer report recommendations, which fall under the following five areas:

  • Increase research collaboration: Repurpose infrastructure created during the pandemic to target high priority, unmet health needs, provide incentives to spur scientific communication and partnership, and initiate a public dialogue about the benefits of collaboration.

  • Accelerate product development: Invest in promising leading-edge platform technologies like mRNA and prototype pathogens that can expedite research and development timelines; explore how regulation can become more agile based on need.

  • Revamp clinical trial design and execution: Maintain innovative infrastructure such as master protocols and seamless trials used during COVID-19 product development – including in treatments, diagnostics, vaccines; invest in decentralized trials and remote tools.

  • Collect and use real-world data and evidence: Integrate comprehensive real-world data into accessible centralized platforms that can enable better information sharing and allow for faster learning across organizations.

  • Address racial and ethnic disparities in health care and research: Build relationships and trust with minority communities, improve data collection and use, and change clinical study designs and networks to be more inclusive.

These recommendations build on the FasterCures COVID-19 portfolio, which includes tracking the vaccine and therapeutic landscape on a daily basis, launching a global "early warning" initiative to detect future pandemics, collaborating with public and private organizations to accelerate drug development, and advancing public policy recommendations.

The “Lessons Learned from COVID-19: Are There Silver Linings for Biomedical Innovation?” is co-authored by Krofah and Kristin Schneeman. The full report can be downloaded here.

Media Contact: Jeff Valliere, jvalliere@milkeninstitute.org, + 1 (202) 441-2894.

About FasterCures

FasterCures, a center of the Milken Institute, is working to build a system that is effective, efficient, and driven by a clear vision: patient needs above all else. We believe that transformative and life-saving science should be fully realized and deliver better treatments to the people who need them. For more information, visit https://www.fastercures.org/.

About the Milken Institute

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that helps people build meaningful lives in which they can experience health and well-being, pursue effective education and gainful employment, and access the resources required to create ever-expanding opportunities for themselves and their broader communities. For more information, visit https://milkeninstitute.org/.

Published January 25, 2021