Innovation is an oft-used term in the pharma industry, but it can refer to a million different things.
To determine what innovation means, Ionis Pharmaceuticals has launched a new podcast series called “InnovatIONS.”
The podcast series features episodes lasting about 30 minutes, in which the host, Ionis VP of strategic innovation and co-founder David Ecker, interviews young scientists at the company about their drug discovery research and how it’s leading to innovation.
The idea for the podcast came from Ecker observing Ionis’ junior, eager scientists discuss their research at the company’s open scientific presentations. Inspired by the conversations, Ecker wanted to give audiences an intimate look into how drug discovery and innovation actually happens behind the scenes at a pharma company. He also sought to tell it through the voices of scientists and younger leaders, rather than from an executive’s perspective.
“Innovation is something we hear a lot about these days,” Ecker said at the start of one episode. “It’s become the latest buzzword in industry, business, science, and even entertainment. But when you break it down, what is it really? If innovation’s so important, why is it so hard to define exactly what it is?”
“That’s what we’re going to explore in each of these podcasts,” Ecker continued. “Specifically, what does it mean to innovate in drug discovery? How do the people doing the innovating know when they’ve done it? And importantly, who are the people doing it?”
In a recent episode, Ecker interviews Elaine Pirie, an assistant director of metabolic drug discovery at Ionis. To begin the episodes, Ecker starts with casual small talk, asking the guests about their lives, where they grew up and how they became interested in science.
It turns out all those things are tied into their scientific journeys that have led them to the cusp of innovation in the lab. In Pirie’s case, she is seeking to discover the cause of protein aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases.
Pirie then provides her own definition of innovation: “It’s when we turn a problem to the side and explore it from a completely different angle. The solutions that come from looking at it in a different way, that’s innovation.”
Ionis is one of several pharma companies to jump on the podcast bandwagon in recent years. Eli Lilly launched its “Elixir Factor” podcast in April 2019 to focus on overcoming health challenges from a variety of perspectives, including industry leaders, advocacy groups and patients.
Johnson & Johnson also started a podcast called “See You Now” in January 2020 which explores healthcare from the perspective of nurses – whether in the hospital or hospice, or in politics and business.
However, when it comes to learning a little more about behind-the-scenes research in the pharma world, InnovatIONS may have a unique niche to fill.
“I’m going to introduce you to some of the brightest people in biotech, you’ll find out what makes them tick,” Ecker said. “Hopefully, we’ll find out what’s in the innovation that leads to the novel medicines capable of transforming people’s minds.”
This content was originally published here.