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Collaboration and Digitalization Fuel Biopharma Innovation

September 25, 2022
Jana Hersch

"Collaboration and digitalization have played fundamental roles in bringing COVID vaccines and therapies to market at an unprecedented rate, saving an estimated 750,000 lives in the United States and Europe alone. As an industry, we must bring the same speed and sense of urgency to all our efforts" Paul Hudson, CEO/Sanofi*

The pace of scientific advancements and breakthrough treatments for a variety of diseases from cancers to COVID, is unprecedented. In this golden age of biomedical research and discovery, new modalities such as cell and gene therapies (CGTs) and RNA-based therapeutics, offer life-changing treatments and begin to deliver on the promise of personalized medicine.

R&D laboratories bringing these therapies to market are changing rapidly as well with complex operating models trying to integrate robotics, automation, cloud computing, and instruments generating large datasets and volumes of digital exhaust. Added to this mix are maturing artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. While pharma and biotech labs are striving to connect all these capabilities for end-to-end insights and automation, the reality is that comprehensive, central data management systems are still not commonly integrated into all workflows. This results in siloed data with differing file formats, inconsistent data management practices, and non-scalable methodologies. Multiple software providers are often used at once with disparate storage systems housing partially overlapping data sets.

To address this harsh reality, many organizations are recognizing the need for consolidation along with greater internal alignment on data management. To achieve maximum impact from R&D digitalization and true end-to-end lab automation requires meaningful internal collaboration. Scientific, technical, and quality teams must come together to choose the best technology. A chosen digital platform should provide the right level of support for diverse scientists and connect and communicate with other essential systems in the organization’s digital ecosystem.

Collaborative approaches to R&D data management and digitalization will maximize the value of data while capitalizing on technological advances. For sure, digitalization leverages more sophisticated approaches to data management and is accelerating the pace of novel drug discovery. Getting it right will generate a substantial competitive advantage. My colleagues and I at Genedata are privileged to be part of a global community of scientists and researchers implementing digitalization initiatives to streamline workflows in drug discovery. We have a great opportunity to learn from each other and share experiences to help in the R&D digitalization process. In a post-pandemic world, we are delighted to have these conversations in-person at a local level through the Genedata Open Forums.

This year, Open Forums are hosted by industry leaders Biotalys, and Merck/EMD Serono. These forums bring together peers and colleagues from a variety of pharmas, biotechs, and CROs, providing a friendly venue in which to share learnings on data management and digitalization. Highly collaborative and interactive, the forums include leaders from top companies such as Bristol Meyers Squibb, Genmab, Novartis, and Pfizer. Whether you want to avoid digital project trial and error, escape common pitfalls of digital adolescence, or digitalize specific processes, such as gene therapy development – the agenda topics are timely, provocative, and information-packed. Open Forums also allow you to speak to Genedata experts who understand the latest progress in R&D digitalization and new opportunities emerging in this field.

*Hudson, Paul, “Pharma’s sense of urgency must outlast the pandemic,” Fortune, February 22, 2022.