Jay Bradner, MD, President, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR); Andrew Plump, MD, PhD, President, Research & Development, Takeda Pharmaceuticals; Michelle McMurry-Heath, MD, PhD, President & CEO, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic brought new challenges and opportunities to biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Several new vaccines and therapies have already been brought to patients. Companies initiated efforts to catalyze collaborative research, new ways of working and social justice. One year into the pandemic, we examine the initial lessons for biopharma R&D - what worked, what didn’t, and how can the industry sustain momentum on emerging priorities for the future? 

About the Presenters

Jay Bradner, MD, President, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR)

Jay Bradner is President of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), the company’s innovation engine. He leads thousands of scientists at six research sites around the world in an effort to discover life-changing medicines for patients.

Jay was previously a clinician at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School. As an entrepreneur, he has co-founded five biotechnology startups. He has long been a proponent of open science, and when his lab at Dana-Farber discovered the bromodomain inhibitor JQ1, they took the unorthodox step of making it available to other researchers with no restrictions. The results have been shared with hundreds of labs worldwide, generating extensive data and fueling further open-source research.

Jay brought this same open approach when he joined Novartis in 2016. NIBR collaborates with an external network of academic and industry partners to facilitate cutting-edge science in areas of mutual interest. NIBR’s open science programs include the Global Scholars Program, which supports innovation through academic partnerships, and the annual Hackathon, which brings data scientists and NIBR researchers together to work on complex problems in the life sciences. 

For the past several years, Jay has also helped support patients outside of the lab, riding in the annual Pan-Mass Challenge, a long-distance cycling event that raises funds for Dana-Farber and honors the many patients who are bravely battling cancer.

Andrew Plump, MD, PhD, President, Research & Development, Takeda Pharmaceuticals

Andrew Plump, M.D., Ph.D., is the President, R&D at Takeda Pharmaceutical and serves as a member of the company’s Board of Directors. His career spans nearly 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry and academia and his experience encompasses early research through regulatory approval and patient access. Dr. Plump’s approach toward drug research and development is reflected in a virtuous cycle of “bench to bedside to bench” learning. He is a true translational physician-scientist, with deep knowledge in biomedical research, experimental medicine, early development, genomics and biomarkers and a history of scientific contributions in neuroscience, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Michelle McMurry-Heath, MD, PhD, President & CEO, Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO)

Michelle McMurry-Heath assumed the leadership of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) as President and CEO on June 1, 2020. A medical doctor and molecular immunologist by training, Dr. McMurry-Heath becomes just the third chief executive to steward the world’s largest biotechnology advocacy group since BIO’s founding in 1993.

The common thread in McMurry-Heath’s work across academia, government and industry has been her focus on broadening access to scientific progress so more patients from diverse backgrounds can benefit from cutting-edge innovation. Driven by her own past family experiences navigating clinical trials and funding uncertainties within the rare disease community, McMurry-Heath calls “the distribution of scientific progress the social justice issue of our age.”

She comes to BIO from Johnson & Johnson where she served as Global Head of Evidence Generation for Medical Device Companies and then Vice President of Global External Innovation and Global Leader for Regulatory Sciences. She was also instrumental in bringing J&J’s incubator, JLabs, to Washington, DC. She led a global team of 900 with responsibilities in 150 countries around the globe.

Prior to her time at J&J, Dr. McMurry-Heath was also a key science policy leader in government. The Obama-Biden transition team tapped her to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the National Science Foundation’s policies, programs and personnel. President Obama then named her associate science director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health under Commissioner Peggy Hamburg. In that role, she championed clinical trial evolution, the use of real-world evidence in product evaluation, and an embrace of the patient’s voice in health research so new medical products deliver outcomes that matter to them.

McMurry-Heath was the founding director of the Aspen Institute’s Health, Biomedical Science, and Society Policy Program, where she promoted personalized medicine and bolstered international preparation for pandemic disease threats. She received her early training in science policy from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and later served as Senator Joe Lieberman’s top legislative aide for science and health. In that role, she drafted legislation to protect the country from biological attacks.

McMurry-Heath received her MD/PhD from Duke’s Medical Scientist Training Program, becoming the first African-American to graduate from the prestigious program. She spent 12 years working at the research bench before taking policy and leadership roles in government and industry.

McMurry-Heath lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband Sebastian Heath, a veterinarian, and their daughter, Isabella. To relax, she enjoys yoga, snorkeling and her daughter’s sporting events.