Build Research Teams of Expertise

Pharmaceutical companies can increase their R & D productivity and improve their chance for discovering innovative new products by building research teams of expertise.   The use of  “of expertise” is intentional (rather than “with expertise”).  “With expertise”  implies there is some expertise within or among the team.  “Of expertise” suggests the whole team has expertise.  The context of building research teams of expertise is different than most pharmaceutical companies have considered in the past.  While they may have had the intent or felt they were, this takes it another step or two beyond where most companies have probably even contemplated.  In most organizational structure, because of hierarchy and title, thee may not even be room for more than one or two experts of this stature in an R & D organization much less on the same team.  Remember we are talking about individuals with “world class” or “best in the industry “credentials.  Here is an example of putting together an entire research team of experts, where there expertise is directly related to the therapeutic area of interest.

  1. Academic research scientists with expertise in the molecular, biochemical and basic sciences for the pathophysiology of the disease or therapeutic area
  2. Biochemistry specialists for potential, already available, or pipeline therapeutics
  3. Genomics and proteomics specialists in the disease
  4. Formulation and drug delivery specialist (if and when needed)
  5. Pharmacokinetics disease specialist (if and when needed)
  6. Biomarker and diagnostic tool discovery and development researchers
  7. Clinical drug developers of products for the disease
  8. Practicing clinician specialists (MDs)
  9. Regulatory specialists for the therapeutic area
  10. Marketing managers for the therapeutic area

Unlike research teams of the past which have been build around technology platforms, targets, or compound candidates, these teams are built around a broader, deeper, and more comprehensive approach to diseases and therapeutic areas.  Rather than just finding another drug candidate, the daily objective is to “finding a cure”.  Along the way to a cure, the team will be developing a broader and deeper knowledge base with a better understanding of the disease and the underlying pathophysiology.  There will be an increased probability of finding, developing, and marketing disease mitigating treatments, new diagnostic tools, and better ways to manage these diseases from a patient perspective.  Eventually, if there is a cure to be found, this team should have a decided advantage for finding it.

Again, the objective is not to just fill these positions with “qualified” people but to identify, recruit, and hire or acquire the “best in the industry” or “world class” expertise for the therapeutic area of interest.

In the next post we’ll look at the other two functional areas for building teams of expertise to increase the probability for success in the evolving new healthcare market.

Build teams of expertise not “critical mass”

Pharmaceutical companies committed to bringing truly innovative new products to market should determine where they need expertise and the role of “critical mass” in accomplishing their goals.  Most companies have some level of expertise in most functional areas but it may be stronger in one area than another and is often scattered by chance more than by design across a company.   Most companies today however, do not have the breadth or depth they need in the three critical areas that will determine success in the evolving new healthcare market.  Most Big Pharma executives might be defensive about this or maybe even feel they already have adequate expertise in most of their functional areas.  That thinking is precisely why this is such an important topic given the anticipated changes from healthcare reform.

First, when I talk about expertise,  I am talking about “world class” or among the “best in the industry”.  Not just doing a good job, having good performance reviews, being the best at the company, or having had a spark of brilliance or lucky opportunity in the past.  I’m talking about being the most knowledgeable or the best at what they do,  “in the industry” or ” in the world.”  Second,  I am not talking about having one expert as team leader or  one  on a team, or a couple experts within a company.  I am talking about building teams of the best in the industry or in the world.  I am talking about having  whole teams of best in the industry or best in the world.  I’m not talking about an unrealistic or unnecessary whole company of world class expertise, but teams of expertise in a few well defined, strategically identified, critical areas.  How many world class teams do you have in your company?  How many “world class” teams do you know about at any other pharmaceutical company for that matter?

There are three areas where teams of expertise are essential for success in the evolving new healthcare market.  It is about building these teams with as much expertise as can possibly be put in place.  This is more about an organizational commitment to establish these teams than it is about building “critical mass.”  The objective should be to build teams with as much expertise as can be attracted and hired.  To make this happen, affordability can not be an issue, organizational titles and hierarchy must be dismissed, if necessary, and relocation challenges must be accommodated.  Most companies will not have to worry about hiring too many experts  if they are really looking for and disciplined about selecting “world class “or “best in the industry” candidates.    After all, how many “best” or   “most knowledgeable”  could there really be?

I can hear it now.  Is this guy crazy?  Does he know how much that would cost?   I might well be crazy but I do have a good idea about how much it would cost and I also know it is affordable.  In the next few posts we’ll discuss the three areas of expertise that are critical for success in the evolving new healthcare market and what to do about all the other functional areas and how to make this affordable.