July 15, 2003 | Does the world need yet another "best practices" awards program? After all, a search on Google for "best practices awards" yields more than 1 million hits. Here at Bio·IT, our considered response to this question, for several reasons, was a resounding "Yes!"
In the 18 months since our debut issue, we have covered myriad aspects of the fledgling bio-IT industry, which is, by definition, the union of disparate disciplines with sharply differing cultures and languages. Forging understanding and accelerating progress throughout the drug discovery value chain as these communities struggle to understand each other are top priorities for any organization.
Then there are the sharply escalating costs in money and time that bedevil the drug discovery industry, from basic research and development through clinical trials to approval, compliance, and manufacture. Even as we preach the importance of convergence in bio-IT, one cannot help but notice the sharp divergence of the escalating cost of discovery with the decline in new drug approvals.
Today's researchers have at their disposal resources and technologies that were almost unimaginable five or ten years ago, and the complexion and culture of pharmaceutical companies is starting to change. But will this be enough? Or can the communication
of technologies and strategies that have implications for the entire industry help inspire new practices that might permeate throughout the landscape?
Even before we celebrated our first anniversary, Bio·IT World decided to launch an annual awards competition, to encourage organizations to present innovative and successful procedures that were paying dividends in some aspect of research and discovery.
We formally launched the inaugural "Best Practices" competition in January. Even though we recognized the immense challenge in coaxing notoriously tight-lipped bio/pharma companies to showcase some of their success strategies, the support from the community and the quality and volume of entries have exceeded our highest expectations. We received 50 entries from organizations spanning academia, biotechnology, and the pharmaceutical industry. The quality was exceptionally high, featuring a wide range of technologies (see "The Technology Behind Best Practices").
We solicited submissions in three categories:
- Discovery and Development
- Clinical Trials
- Drug Manufacturing
The entries were judged by a blue-ribbon panel of 10 reviewers, who deliberated the merits of each entry before privately ranking each submission.
Bio·IT editors adjudicated the discussions, but the grand prizes and other winners were based solely on the panel's scores. Several key criteria emerged during the evaluations, including the degree of innovation, the importance of the problem being addressed, the process involved, and the likely impact of the best practice for the industry. (Judges recused themselves in cases of potential conflict of interest.)
Given the high quality among the leading entries in the two most popular categories, we chose to award six outstanding entries, in addition to the grand prize winners, based on the judges' evaluations. We also bestowed the first editors' prize.
And so, without further ado, the envelopes please ...
DISCOVERY AND DEVELOPMENT
- Grand Prize: Millennium Pharmaceuticals
- Winner — Best Overall Platform: Vertex Pharmaceuticals
- Winner — Best Implementation in an Emerging Field (biosimulation): Pfizer/Entelos
- Winner — Best Application of New Technology (whole genome sequencing): Perlegen Sciences
- Editors' Prize — Best Start-Up: Infinity Pharmaceuticals
- Grand Prize: Baylor College of Medicine
- Winner — Best Overall Platform: Wyeth
- Winner — Best Application of New Technology: Pharmacia (Pfizer)
- Winner — Best Protocol Management: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
- Grand Prize: Solutia Pharmaceutical Services
Congratulations to all!
The winners were announced at a gala dinner held last month at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. The event also featured keynote presentations from Kathy Ordonez, the president of Celera Genomics, and Steve Galson, deputy director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the FDA.
We should note, however, that the IT group that won Best Application of New Technology in the Clinical Trials category has been "right-sized" out of employment, due to post-merger consolidation between Pharmacia and Pfizer. We hope that these talented
professionals can leverage the recognition from their Best Practices Award to go on to even greater achievements in our industry!
|Thanks to the Best Practices Awards judges:|
|Stephen Fogelson (ClinQuest)|
Jim Golden (454 Corp.)
Jim Hall (Wood Mackenzie)
Leon Heredia (Stelex-TVG)
Stan Kachnowski (Columbia University)
Scott Kahn (Accelrys)
Michael Pavia (Cantata)
John Reynders (Celera Genomics)
Mick Savage (Independent consultant)
Jerald Schindler (Wyeth Laboratories)
We owe considerable thanks to our expert panel of judges, who gave so generously of their time. We would also like to acknowledge the generous support of our seven sponsors — IBM, ARC (Audit Repository Center), CimQuest, Equilibria, Aegis Analytical, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, and the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company (PRIDCO) — without whom this competition would not have been possible. In particular, we thank our premier sponsor, IBM, whose technology also featured prominently in at least three entries in the Discovery and Development category.
But most of all, we thank all the organizations that took the time and trouble to enter this competition, regardless of whether they received any commendation. Their participation helped make this first effort a success and provides a strong platform upon which to build; we look forward to their future involvement and hope to attract many new entrants next year as well.
Encouraged by the overwhelming response to our inaugural awards program, we are already making plans for an even broader, more dynamic competition for 2004.
—Kevin Davies, John Russell, Tony Strattner, Malorye Branca