This book seeks to contribute to the public's understanding of how and why biomedical discoveries and products arise. We focus on discoveries, made primarily but not exclusively in the United States, that have had or promise to have an impact on health outcomes. As is implicit in the book's main title, “Managing Discovery,” our goal is to better understand how investigators manage to make discoveries (as in, “manage to pull them off, especially against heavy odds”) and how managers (as in, “those who manage or administer the investigators”) encourage and sometimes discourage this process. The book examines the interplay of scientists, managers, investors, regulators, and others involved in the process of discovering new drugs and medical devices and bringing them to the marketplace. Their efforts rely on a combination of public support – often but not always for the more fundamental, “academic” aspects of the research effort – and private support from profit-seeking firms who can count on patent protection and FDA-sanctioned market exclusivity, but still face buyers who must be willing and able to buy what is offered.
This juxtaposition of the biomedical sciences and management has been uppermost in the minds of the three faculty authors for the last decade because of their involvement with a unique cross-disciplinary program, the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences & Management (LSM) at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), since its inception. It is through this program that the three of us – a biochemist, an economist, and a sociologist by training – have found our research and pedagogical activities converging on the management of life sciences as it applies to the interface between discoveries made in the research laboratory and their realization in the marketplace. The program's introductory core course labels this interface the “twin towers of innovation.”
LSM is a dual-degree undergraduate program that operates jointly between Penn's College of Arts & Sciences and the Wharton School. Each year approximately 25 students are admitted who pursue two bachelors’ degrees – a BA in one of the life sciences and a BS in Economics. The program's origins stem from an appreciation that anyone interested in science implementation must not only have a rigorous understanding of the science itself but also an understanding of product development, mechanisms of funding, regulatory policy, organizational infrastructure, and marketing.