The 25th SAPA Annual Conference: Advancing Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Development Through Global Collaboration

Somerset, NJ, October 10, 2017 --( The Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association (SAPA) held its 25th annual conference at the Doubletree in Somerset, New Jersey on September 29-30, 2017. Under the leadership of SAPA Presidents Dr. Lei Tang and Dr. Jian Liu, this annual event grew 50% in content, expanding from last year’s one-day program to a day and half this year. Dr. David Ho, a pioneer on the cocktail treatment of AIDS and a keynote speaker at the conference, applauded SAPA for its tremendous growth in critical mass and talents.

The conference centered on the theme of “Advancing Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Development through Global Collaboration.” Dr. Jijun Xing (Science and Technology Counselor in Chinese Consulate General in New York) noted that it is the “new age” of international collaboration. In particular, Dr. Xing commended the efforts of a US team led by Dr. Ho, who collaborated with Chinese researchers to stem the outbreak of SARs in China in 2003.

Leading immunology experts presented the latest progress and novel clinical study designs, as well as recent innovations in cutting edge technology in this fast changing field. Dr. Ho described his team’s efforts behind the development of a bispecific antibody, a clinical lead, to neutralize HIV. Dr. Christian Antoni, VP, Head of Immunology Development, Sanofi, discussed breakthrough innovations for the treatment of autoimmune diseases including the recent approval of Sanofi’s two innovative drugs, Dupixent® for atopic dermatitis and Kevzara® for rheumatoid arthritis.

Debbie Hart (President and CEO, BioNJ) explored New Jersey’s life sciences industry landscape including how New Jersey’s life sciences ecosystem has evolved and how the state, known as the “Medicine Chest of the World,” contributes to the advancement of global human health. In that vein, Michael Foley, Director of Tri-I TDI, presented a novel academic business model, forming a partnership of multiple research institutions to help them advance their groundbreaking basic research discoveries from academic laboratory to the clinic and reduce the time and failure in clinical trials. Dr. Yiwu He, SVP of International Business, BGI, tackled issues that arise “when science is a business,” offering his insights on combining first class research with the right business strategies for biotech companies to compete successfully.

The pharma investment forum and startup-venture summit brought innovation and capital together, connecting venture capitalists, corporate venture, investment banking, and angel investors with entrepreneurs equipped with innovative ideas and business plans. At the business development forum, industry experts shared success stories of how companies, startup or heavy-weight, supplemented their internal R&D with innovative products and technologies sourced through licensing, partnerships, and acquisitions, both locally and from across the globe. The CEO Forum, one of the most popular events at the conference, shared stories and provided insights on trends, strategies, challenges, and opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry.

Executives from CROs, large and small, shared their strategies on how to build sustainable competitive advantage for growth via global collaborations. A shining example is WuXi Biologics’ success story in its journey to build a $5 billion company in just 6 years. According to its CEO Chris Chen, WuXi’s technology platform enables anyone and any company to develop biologics and thru this, it provides the world with the ONE true single-source approach that saves their clients’ critical time and money.

On the regulatory side, panels of experts presented recent development and future directions in the drug approval frameworks, including ICH reforms, regulatory reforms in China, the FDA’s Expedited Approval Programs, and breakthrough new drugs in China. Dr. Theresa Mullin, Director, Office of Strategic Programs, FDA/CDER and Chair of ICH management committee, FDA/CDER, provided an overview of the organization, governance, and standards harmonization work performed by the ICH, the recent reforms to the ICH, as well as future directions for the drug regulatory harmonization work. Dr. Mathias Hukkelhoven, SVP, Global Regulatory, Safety and Biometrics of BMS, discussed the recent regulatory reform created by the CFDA and its membership of ICH, which are expected to provide a friendly environment for drug development innovation and allow for much faster development and approval times. As intellectual property is the lifeblood of the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, the conference also featured a session on IP protection, licensing, enforcement, and valuation. The conference further offered a glimpse of the world beyond R&D through the eyes of seasoned pharmaceutical executives in sales, marketing, operations, access, and finance functions.

Of great importance to many, the conference also provided a platform for professional networking and career development. The job fair brought together over thirty hiring companies and the best talents in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, with a designated conference room for “instant interviews.” The career development session explored the Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang in career planning, development, and advancement, featuring an interactive workshop on “The Secrets of Career Success: Communication and Leadership Skills.”

The conference finally concluded in the celebration of past achievements and welcoming of the new leadership team, led by President Dr. Jian Liu and President-Elect Dr. Xiaole Shen.
Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association
Xiaodong Chen