GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), like so many other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, is looking to boost its pipeline. Pearl Huang, Ph.D., vice president and global head of GSK’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc), is taking direct aim at the drug discovery concept stage to take up the challenge.
During a discussion at BIO 2014 in San Diego, Huang speaks quietly but openly, and starts many of her sentences with the word “so,” as if to ensure the listener understands the reason for the next lies within the cause of the former. “The last two and a half years,” she says, “we have reviewed over 1,300 opportunities, and started 14 programs, so our hit rate is about 1 in 100. So when 99 percent of your time is spent on something that ends up not as productive as you would like, you have to find a new way to do it.”
One new way at GSK of reviewing opportunities for pipeline bolstering is via a contest for academia-based scientists, called Discovery Fast Track. It is located organizationally under DPAc, but can and does draw on GSK expertise from anywhere within the company.