Meet some of the revolutionaries in biotech R&D

It's become an article of faith in the biopharma biz that it takes more than $1 billion and 10 years to develop a new drug. Industry associations like to cite that factoid as a reason for the big prices we're seeing on new therapies, often while prodding the FDA for faster action. 

But built into the huge figures and daunting timelines is a history of clinical-stage failure and slow-motion trial work that has deepened the cost of R&D. The average is always poor when the biggest players in the business rack up staggering failure rates.

Dig deep, though, and you'll see that a number of biotechs and pharma teams are using their increasingly sophisticated understanding of genetics to pursue new drugs that can have a much bigger impact on a disease. And they're beginning to understand how the rapid progress being seen for certain patient subsets can be expanded to reach larger populations.

Those are some of the issues I'll be exploring during Tuesday's executive breakfast in Boston with some of the best and brightest people in drug development. Nick Leschly, head of bluebird bio ($BLUE), which has been adding genetic engineering technology while pioneering gene therapies, is on board. He'll be joined by Jason Gardner, who recently moved to Boston to set up a drug and talent scouting group for GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK). David Schenkein, the head of closely watched Agios ($AGIO) and Jim Burns, who heads Sanofi's ($SNY) R&D ops in its growing Boston hub, are joining the conversation. And J.C. Gutierrez-Ramos from Pfizer ($PFE)--which has been racing to the regulators with palbociclib--will also be on stage.

This is a dialogue, not a lecture. And I'll be turning to the audience to help the discussion. So if you haven't made plans to join us, I'd encourage you to make your reservation now. I'll also be staying on after the event to answer any questions you may have for me. Register here. -- John Carroll, editor-in-chief (email | Twitter)

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