Business of Biotech Conference 2018

Friday | 3.2.2018 | Moffitt Cancer Center



Former Chief Scientific Officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb and a physician with broad experience in pharmaceutical research and development.  He has played a leading role in the development of the immuno-oncology drug Opdivo (Nivolumab; anti-PD-1 monoclonal antibody).


ABC News Political Commentator,
Contributing Senior News Analyst - NPR,
and Member of the Moffitt Cancer Center
National Board of Advisors conducts a
conversation with Dr. Cuss.



Keynote—Cokie Roberts interviewed Dr. Francis Cuss
The keynote session kicked off the day. It was a fireside chat between ABC News Political Commentator, NPR Contributing Senior News Analyst and member of the Moffitt Cancer Center National Board of Advisors Cokie Roberts and Dr. Francis Cuss, former Chief Scientific Officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb. Dr. Cuss shared his insights on conquering cancer by harnessing the power of the immune system. The interview covered the brief history of immunotherapy, as well as issues and hurdles:

  • The spurred interest in immunotherapy comes with the danger of expecting miracles, when in truth it simply will not work for everyone.
  • It is important not to lose sight of other treatment options, such as chemo and radiotherapy, which have been proven to work.
  • Pricing is generally an issue which often leads to exploring less expensive drug options first.
  • CAR T-cell and checkpoint inhibitor therapy, as well combinations thereof, have great future potential.
    It will be important to have the ability to determine early on which patients will actually benefit from immunotherapy.



Real World Data: Mining Gold from a Mountain of Straw
Attendees of this panel enjoyed a discussion focused on how real world evidence is highlighting the gap between consensus guidelines and label approvals, which grows in importance as more drug approvals enter market. The panelists, which were from Flatiron Health, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Cota Healthcare, shared how real world evidence has a valuable impact in getting patients therapies faster and with less cost than traditional trials.

It’s a Win-Win: Academia & Industry
As the number of sponsored research agreements increase between academia and industry, academic technology commercialization and sponsored research offices must work closely with principal investigators and industry partners to launch and maintain these alliances. During this session, members from both sides of the equation discussed the advantages and challenges of these unique partnerships, the importance of working together and how successful alliances have a shared commitment to find a solution. The valuable advice given by the panelists ranged from, the need for statisticians early in experimental design to the merit of patenting intellectual property over other methods, such as trade secrets and being first to market.

Follow the Money: Funding Emerging Companies
The panel of experienced investors and C-level company executives shared what investors are looking for and some novel ways to fund early-stage companies. The discussion revolved not only around what venture capitalists were looking for in early-stage companies, but also alternative ways that companies are becoming successful in today’s marketplace with examples that included Hubble Contacts and Real Endpoints.

Immunotherapy: A New Weapon Against Cancer
The panel of talented pharma-biotech professionals discussed the current status, recent advances and future challenges in the field of immunotherapy. The experts pondered over what makes one geographic location a biotech hub over another and why New York City is struggling to be a big pharma hub in the United States, while Boston and San Francisco have effortlessly won this coveted tag.

To learn more about the Office of Innovation and Industry Alliances call 813-745-6828 or email