Biogen VP Karaboutis rallies company for med tech R&D push

Adriana Karaboutis, Biogen's EVP of technology and business solutions

Last year, Biogen ($BIIB) brought on Adriana Karaboutis as its executive VP of technology to lead the company's med tech R&D push and further CEO George Scangos' vision of the company becoming a lead digital health player. And Karaboutis has not wasted any time since coming aboard, rolling out a series of new initiatives to bolster Biogen's recent efforts in the field.

As Karaboutis told Forbes in an interview, Biogen is looking to "meaningfully disrupt the business" by concentrating on wearables, consumables, and ingestables, and also "focusing heavily" on data analytics and scientific computing to gain ground in personalized medicine. And the VP has already helped the company move one step closer toward its med tech aspirations, creating a unit to study digital health tech and building a team focused on data analytics.

Hiring Karaboutis was a strategic move for the company, as Scangos and executives looked at areas that could help take the company "into the next generation," and potentially transform the whole biotech industry, she told Forbes. Biogen's top dogs "recognized that technology is not a long pole in the tent, but something that has progressed to the point where it can help this industry," Karaboutis said, as quoted by the magazine. And having Karaboutis there to lead the charge could help Biogen as it looks to diversify its offerings and counter slumping sales for its MS powerhouse Tecfidera.

The company's plans to deliver on its goals are two-fold, she told Forbes. Biogen will take a hard look at what it has to work with, drawing upon its own technological resources and scientific community to boost its industry footprint. The company has also appointed "six key people" to its executive leadership team to drive key projects, Karaboutis said.

But part of the game plan also involves tapping external resources, she added, expanding Biogen's pool of resources to spur innovation. In April, the company and partner PatientsLikeMe revealed results from a new study which found that wearable devices can help monitor individuals with multiple sclerosis over time. The study outfitted PatientsLikeMe members with Fitbit One activity trackers, and users' experience with the devices had a "lasting impact" Biogen said at the time.

"We are pursuing partnerships with the best and brightest in the US and abroad," Karaboutis said, as quoted by Forbes. "And through the big six as I call us (our executive leadership team), how do we then prioritize what we are going to invest in, what partnerships we are going to establish and move forward."

- read the Forbes article