[Updated: 7:07 am ET 6/18] One year ago, I felt the need to say that Twitter was no fad, that it was truly here to stay in biotech. Now it has become such a mainstream tool for information sharing in biotech that I’ve decided to do some of my bigger interviews next week on the microblog platform.
We’ve been fortunate at Xconomy (@xconomy on Twitter) to line up a stellar group of biotech industry leaders next week who have agreed to do live Q&As with us and our followers. An estimated 15,000 people from around the world are expected to gather in Boston for the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s international convention, and our hope is to help extend some of the real-time conversation that will occur there to an even wider audience on Twitter.
Here’s who we have lined up next week for a series of Tweetchats.
8am ET/5 am PT Monday—Richard Pops, CEO, Alkermes. (@popsalks)
12:30 pm ET/9:30 am PT Monday—John Maraganore, CEO, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. (@alnylam) [Rescheduled, from Noon ET to 12:30 pm ET]
Noon ET/9 am PT Tuesday—Katrine Bosley, former CEO, Avila Therapeutics, acquired by Celgene. (@ksbosley)
Noon ET/9 am PT Wednesday—Deborah Dunsire, CEO, Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company. (@Millennium_US)
10:30 am ET/7:30 am PT Thursday—Jim Greenwood, President & CEO, BIO. (@IAmBiotech)
As usual with these chats, I’ll get the ball rolling by sending questions from my personal account @ldtimmerman. I’ll be sure to encourage readers/followers to send in questions or comments for all of these guests. The searchable hash tag to keep track of the conversations will be #xcbiochat, although I’m also planning to use the #BIO2012 hash tag which is already getting a lot of notice in the build-up to the BIO meeting.
For those of you who may not be familiar, here’s a little bit on who these folks are:
Richard Pops (@popsalks) has long aspired to turn Alkermes (NASDAQ: ALKS) into one of the so-called “Big Biotechs” that are independent, profitable, and have the horsepower to run big R&D programs. Pops made a bold move in that direction last year through the acquisition of Ireland-based Elan Drug Technologies, which gave the company a combined portfolio of five different drugs expected to be significant revenue drivers for the future. Pops is also a longtime member of the BIO board of directors, and intimately familiar with macro issues that affect the industry, such as the extension of the Prescription Drug User Fee Act, healthcare reform, and more.
John Maraganore, the head of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ALNY), has sought to position his company (@alnylam) as the leading developer of RNA-interference drugs, which seek to shut down disease processes at the level of RNA, where conventional small-molecule and protein drugs haven’t had much success. Maraganore also has a broad range of interests in biotech, as an advisor to Third Rock Ventures and its portfolio of startups, and as a member of the BIO board, where he gets involved in policy debates over things like the FDA’s accelerated approval process for lifesaving drugs. Maraganore also has the distinction of being the first CEO of a public biotech company to agree to do a Tweetchat with Xconomy last fall. Note to lawyers out there: He didn’t say anything dumb, or put his company at risk, by agreeing to what’s basically a press conference on the Internet.
Katrine Bosley (@ksbosley) is riding high this year, as the entrepreneur who was fortunate enough to lead Avila Therapeutics to its acquisition in Januaryby Summit, NJ-based Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) for $350 million upfront. I’ll be sure to ask her about what her next move will be, and what it’s like to raise money for new biotech startups in a time when venture capital is scarce.
Deborah Dunsire (@Millennium_US) is the widely-admired executive who led Millennium to prominence as a drug developer with its billion-dollar treatment for multiple myeloma, bortezomib (Velcade). That drug prompted Takeda Pharmaceuticals to buy Millennium for $8.8 billion in 2008, and to continue investing in Dunsire and her team to come up with more cancer drugs.
And lastly, we’ll chat on the final day of BIO with Jim Greenwood, the trade group’s CEO, who I imagine will be pretty tired after an endless series of panels, press conferences, and receptions. As a former member of Congress from Pennsylvania, he’s the industry’s point man on all things inside the Beltway, so he should have opinions on every issue that matters to the future of the industry, from FDA relations, to healthcare reform, to cheaper “biosimilar” copies of innovative medicines. He will be Tweeting from BIO’s official Twitter account, @IAmBiotech.
I’d like to personally thank Nutter for their support as the sponsor of this series of Tweetchats. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to compose a few questions for next week in 140 characters or less.