Resilience key to success during pandemic and beyond

By Samantha Black, PhD, ScienceBoard editor in chief

January 24, 2022 -- It has been a challenging past couple of years for the world with the pandemic impacting seemingly every aspect of life. Companies that have remained agile and dedicated to problem-solving have been able to weather the storm more easily compared to those that lacked strong contingency plans, according to Bryan Katz, senior vice president and global head of solution development at Syneos Health, who moderated a panel discussion at Biotech Showcase 2022.

The session moderated by Katz, titled "Pharma Perspective: A Post-Pandemic Time of Transformation," focused on key trends over the last 18 to 24 months, including how the pandemic impacted businesses and the implications for the biotech and investor communities.

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During the pandemic, every organization in the industry learned at least one thing (and probably many things) that it should be doing different, Katz explained. For many companies, one of the lessons learned was developing better contingency plans. "The companies that navigated the pandemic the most successfully probably had a bit of resiliency embedded into their culture," he commented.

Business resiliency can take several forms, Katz said. The first way a company can achieve resiliency is by building high-performing teams that can transition quickly from innovation (experiment box) to operationalization (delivery box.) A second way to establish resilience is to form partnerships so that organizations can rapidly pivot, explore new innovations, and problem-solve quickly.

Organizations do not achieve success alone, Katz said. Rather, if they understand what it takes to be successful (namely, teams and partnering), then they can reverse engineer the system by building resiliency into the core culture of the business to ensure success.

Within the pharmaceutical industry, technology will no doubt play a large role in stimulating the success of all businesses. Katz said that he is excited to see how artificial intelligence will influence decision-making for the sector. For instance, Katz cited the increased use of natural history studies in rare diseases, the use of synthetic control arms in clinical trials, and the integration of real-world evidence in clinical trial data.

Technology can help researchers move from deterministic to probabilistic models and increase a program's overall probability of success, Katz explained. Data-driven approaches can help enrich how drug assets are valued and assessed. Integrating digital medicines and technologies into programmatic plans is an exciting opportunity for the future.

At Syneos Health, Katz and his team support their pharmaceutical and biotech partners' efforts to develop drugs with the lowest risk and highest probability of success. They achieve this by co-designing, incubating, and operationalizing new business models and tools that help clients achieve critical inflection milestones. In the "experimentation sandbox" as Katz calls it, he is focused on building resilient teams that help partners bring drugs to market faster.

Do you have a unique perspective on your research related to drug discovery and development? Contact the editor today to learn more.

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