Podcast: BIO from the BAYOU
Episode 4: ”Executive in Residence” in Academia (Elaine Hamm, Ascend BioVentures)
Tune in for this episode of the BIO from the BAYOU podcast, featuring stories and industry insights from the experts who can provide frontline access to this unique ecosystem. Host James Zanewicz, with Tulane University’s School of Medicine, welcomes back special guest Dr. Elaine Hamm. Elaine has served in countless roles industry wide; today she occupies the position of being the first “Executive in Residence” at Tulane University School of Medicine, and together they explore what this role means.
With a lot of perspective and experience in this area, Elaine shares some of the biggest challenges she seesfor academic scientists who are trying to engage with the business world. She describes the basic and boring scientific research questions needed for commercial activity, in contrast to the more complex and “fun” academic experiments. While figuring out product manufacturing can be quite boring, Elaine shares that this often proves to be one of the main killers for companies.
James asks Elaine to discuss what made her decide to venture back into the academy – and she shares her love for “boring” experiments and why the role of COO was one of her favorites (as it is necessary for there to be someone who simply helps others check the boxes). But how else can the role of being an Executive in Residence add value to the field? Since these experts are often those who have, “been there and done that”, they offer a great perspective gained through their various personal life lessons.
Shifting topics, these two chat about partnering strategies for academics and companies. Elaine cannot overemphasize enough the need to do your basic diligence about what science people will need to see. It’s important to make it as easy as possible to make someone want to partner with you. By focusing on the science, rather than the market, you can better show what differentiates you from others and where your data ultimately rests.
Learn about Elaine’s plan to hold “Lunch and Learns” and why she wants to begin with the Micro-immuno field. Conducting these meetings around what the industry cares about will help equip leaders in developing new vaccines, knowing what models to follow, and what corporate higher-ups want to see for eventual drug development and approvals. Elaine has insights for those who are passionate about impact in order to have success moving product forward. Understanding what it will take from a data perspective to get something approved is invaluable!
Transitioning topics, Elaine talks about how EIR can be done virtually and the advancements that have become capable with technology. Having previously filled two separate roles at a University (Scientist and Tech Transfer professional), Elaine shares advice for those following in her footsteps: such as the importance of keeping up with documents, and being hyper-focused on the data and experiments that truly matter.
As the conversation draws to a close, James asks Elaine to touch on how universities and small companies can best approach partnering, even if they are not located within one of the major biotech hubs. She says it is simple: What can these universities or companies do to make it worthwhile for her to have a relationship?She talks about finding the avenue for someone to truly be of help, along with what can be done to make it a flexible and advantageous role.
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