In this Issue
Responding to COVID-19—A Gamechanger for Everyone
The FasterCures response to COVID-19 has required an all-hands-on-deck effort from our team. Once it was apparent that COVID-19 was becoming a global pandemic, our team developed a strategy to put our mission into practice by elevating the discussion around how to accelerate the research and development of effective COVID-19 treatments and vaccines. We decided that the best way to make this a reality would be to track, day-to-day, vaccines and treatments in development. In mid-March, we launched the COVID-19 Treatment and Vaccine Tracker. The tracker is a comprehensive list, updated daily, of all COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, including their phase of development.
The reach of the tracker has surpassed our expectations. It was mentioned in coverage from the Washington Post, Axios, Fortune, FastCompany, Bloomberg, NPR Morning Edition, Forbes, Wall Street Journal, among many more publications, and has garnered more than two billion media impressions.
The tracker's positive impact has made FasterCures Executive Director Esther Krofah a sought-after speaker on the process of vaccine and treatment development. Krofah has been invited to share her expertise through all platforms, including virtual conferences, radio interviews, podcasts, and print media. The success of the tracker has cemented FasterCures as a leading voice in accelerating biomedical R&D.
Cultivating the Next Generation of Nonprofit Leaders—FasterCures LeadersLink
FasterCures launched the LeadersLink program to foster the development of emerging leaders of nonprofit biomedical research organizations while allowing them to make connections that will support their future development. Over the next several years, LeadersLink will focus on a different theme; this year’s theme is venture philanthropy investing. The participants will address their organizations' top priorities through a capstone project, mentorship, in-person convenings, and virtual collaboration.
From an exceptionally well-qualified pool of candidates, FasterCures selected five applicants to be the first LeadersLink participants: Danielle Carnival (I AM ALS), Katrin Ericson (RUNX1 Research Program), Melissa Kennedy (International Rett Syndrome Foundation), Emily Kramer-Golinkoff (Emily's Entourage), and Wen Hwa Lee (Action Against Age-Related Macular Degeneration). This group collectively represents a variety of small- to medium-sized patient organizations in the US and UK, addressing rare and common diseases.
The BRIDGE Initiative—Unlocking Innovation
In 2019, FasterCures launched the BRIDGE Initiative with a mission to enable more dynamic marketplaces for biomedical innovation. Through a series of meetings held during the 2019 Milken Institute Global Conference and Future of Health Summit, we identified a possible path forward: neutral information and matchmaking forums that can connect discontinued drug assets with partners with expertise and capital needed to develop those medicines.
In June, FasterCures announced BRIDGE's first pilot. In partnership with the Children's Tumor Foundation (CTF) and CureSearch for Children's Cancer, we will take the essential steps to build connections to develop discontinued drugs to treat pediatric tumors. FasterCures, CTF, and CureSearch are creating a nonprofit initiative framework that will approach biopharmaceutical companies, identify promising but discontinued drugs, develop an externalization framework, and match validated drugs to new development and investment partners.
TRAIN—The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network
TRAIN kicked off its 2020 webinar series focusing on how organizations can utilize venture philanthropy to accelerate available treatments to their patient communities.
In March, leaders from three disease-specific patient organizations with successful research programs served as panelists for the webinar “Stories from the Front Line of Advancing Therapeutic Development for Patients.” Each panelist spoke about their own experiences developing and implementing research strategies.
In July, Michael Hund (CEO of EB Research Partnership), Alex Silver (Chairman of EB Research Partnership), Daniel de Boer (CEO of ProQR Therapeutics), and Mark de Souza (CEO of Wings Therapeutics) served as panelists for the webinar “Venture Philanthropy in Action: A Case Study of EB Research Partnership and ProQR.” EB Research Partnership has been so successful in its venture philanthropy strategies that it could fund the formation of a new company dedicated to developing treatments for Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB), Wings Therapeutics. The panelists discussed key factors that led to the development of that company, lessons learned, and advice for others who may want to do the same thing.
The FasterCures team has published two new reports this year: “Data Collection and Use During COVID-19” and “Cures for Life: Long-Term Follow-Up Data Collection for Cell and Gene Therapies.”
“Data Collection and Use During COVID-19” explores challenges within patient data collection concerning medical research and discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted their importance. It also provides recommendations across several key thematic areas, including promoting the interoperability and integration of data, ensuring data privacy and protection, and advancing remote patient monitoring and telehealth.
“Cures for Life: Long-Term Follow-Up Data Collection for Cell and Gene Therapies” explores the need for long-term data collection for cell and gene therapies, data requirements of different stakeholder groups, the strengths and limitations of current models for data collection, and future considerations relevant to each stakeholder group.
Milken Institute Summer Series: “In Search for a Cure: Are We Nearing a Treatment for COVID-19?”
In June, the Milken Institute hosted the 2020 Summer Series, a virtual gathering of leaders in finance, health, philanthropy, and policy to discuss the many ways COVID-19 has impacted life globally and share ideas on how to move forward.
Our executive director, Esther Krofah, gave the introduction for the session, “In Search for a Cure: Are We Nearing a Treatment for COVID-19?” Krofah set the stage by providing a brief overview of the current status of COVID-19 in the US and describing how the FasterCures tracker is helping accelerate the development of vaccines and treatments. Meg Tirrell of CNBC hosted the discussion with guest panelists Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. Fauci discussed ways to manage COVID-19 outbreaks in our current state, vaccine development and distribution logistics, and how we move forward once a vaccine or treatment is available. Bourla detailed the timeline, technology, clinical trial logistics, safety, and pricing of the Pfizer vaccine currently in Phase III of clinical trials.
As always, we are grateful to have you in our community, along with our Advisory Board, Business Council, and Changemakers. Please visit our website for more information, and please feel free to share this newsletter with your networks.