NEW LAWYERS. TRANSFORMATION OF A PROFESSION

The subtle movement and shift of emphasis from today’s lawyers into Business Partners and strategic advisers – has changed the view that we have of them – and them of us. The question is; is this a difficult sell?

Nora Teuwsen is looking at me across the screen. She is dressed in Swiss minimalist chic, dark grey modern clothes, long auburn hair. As former General Counsel for Swiss Railways, and surrounded by the financial areas of Zurich, she is well placed to make a perceptive judgement.

“It used to be”, she says. “But now, Corporates are waking up to the fact that their in-house Lawyer is also a modern facilitator”.

Like so many young lawyers starting out, Nora had little clue of what a legal profession entailed. Her motivation had been more a belief in justice, integrity, that she still regards as valuable of all skills to have. What she was not prepared for in those early days – was the lack of client contact, and to work out and discover an understanding, that her preferred role was one of explanation, to explain the “why” things need to be so.

She is calm but animated in her delivery, you can see the entrepreneurial spirit that is driving her responsibility to take her client on a journey. The legal background has no longer become the prime reason for being retained, it is the structure of thought that can open other commercial discussions.

It is no surprise that after 15 years with Swiss Railways, it was obvious that the next step was to create a vehicle that could embrace all of these attributes and competences, into one, that could be offered as a package so to say.

What she says is; “companies are underestimating the value of their legal department”, and in many ways that department needs to be courageous in pushing for creative and pragmatic solutions which are taking into account the company’s strategy and focussing on longterm value.

Nora continues: “The role of the legal department is expanding. Areas of sustainability, social responsibility, are becoming the go to areas of importance for corporates of all sizes, and the legal department can assist in handling that interest.”

It is also a focus on use of Data. Surprisingly, Nora is not convinced by use cases in Artificial Intelligence in the legal industry. There is a great transformation going on, but so far, results are limited. So far, it has not come up on her radar as a priority.

The “BeyondLegal” Boutique Firm, Nora’s brainchild – from a single Zurich base – is already international clients. “What we are trying to do, is build a network of like-minded legal professionals. We live in an international world”.

I turn off my screen and take a moment of reflection. In a technology driven marketplace, human values are still the bedrock of our corporate growth, which we always had but somehow had been forgotten. Some things remain the same.

IS DIGITALISATION THE SUICIDE NOTE OF BUSINESS?

We look at SEO and the epidemic of digital solutions in Biz Dev, and ask; are we missing the point here?

I have a colleague, who is Head of Procurement for some large areas of Scandinavia. And what he says is this; “Richard” – he says – “ I have deliberately stopped answering any emails, or any calls, from anybody I do not recognise. If you want me to talk to any of your people, just let me know in advance and I will put their number in my personal contacts.”

In the same way that the freedom of the internet has given us multiple information choices that should have given us a broader outlook – and the reverse has been true – that we only focus on those news feeds that say the things we already believe, – and made worse by algorithms that proactively feed us those restrictive views. So – the same is with SEO and all things digital.

We can now reach out to anybody on this planet. But so can everybody else. Which means that the people that we need and want to talk to – for our business growth, our customer service, etc – have long since made the decision not to be available, at all.

What that means is that, far from being simple to grow a business by finding a person who we do not know, and just giving them a call, has now become more than four times as long and four times as expensive, and now involves, pre-sales people, post-sales people, all manner of IT support and analysis, to do what used to be the straightforward and simple task of just phoning a friend of a friend.

But what is worse, is that this has given acceptance and justification, to being proactive in not making human contact possible at all. Woe betide any receptionist who passes on yours or mine contact details!

This means that both sides are the losers. Vendors of great solutions give up, because they cannot support the increasing drain open their marketing spend. And Corporates or our Public Services continue with their outdated practices because nobody has been able to show them otherwise.

If COVID restrictions have taught us anything, it is that human nature needs human involvement, and yet we seem to be travelling at warp speed in the opposite direction. It is as if we are scared about the whole process of actually talking together in a business environment, or being”sold to”. How terrible.

In our own business here at Profomedia, we research a lot and are continually building personal relationships. Whenever we want to find out something, we reach out and phone someone we already know, – who then introduces us to someone who we don’t.

There. It wasn’t so difficult, was it.

DIABETES MANAGEMENT FOR ALL PEOPLE WITH DIABETES

As part of our series of Case Studies for The HETT Show (www.hettshow.co.Uk) – we look at the rise of the Nipro Diagnostics company in Diabetes healthcare and ask, – from a standing start (with the new 4SURE portfolio), in just a few years, has their time come to be a major UK player?

For many people like you and I, the realisation that many people with diabetes do not have their condition out of choice, is a hard one to accept.  And yet its management requires a complex understanding.  

Let’s try and set the scene. In the last 10 years, the cost of treating Diabetes in the UK, has almost doubled. Looking at it another way – some 13% of all the NHS spending, is diabetes related. It is the largest slice of spending in the NHS cake.  And for type 2 diabetes there is no shortage of blame. Everything from the UK government’s lack of practical steps – through to you and I for eating the wrong food and an ever increasing sedentary lifestyle . 

Or maybe, there is no blame? Maybe, despite the fact that 10 years is a long time, and long enough to change both personal and NHS day-to-day processes, is it only now that we need to take a deeper look?

Is it therefore time? Time to reassess, and look again at what do we really need, now, to bring the diabetes epidemic under control and into the 21st century with technological advancements?

10 years ago, and with a Nipro global headcount of some 29,000 people – the NiproDIAGNOSTICS company was not a known player in the UK. Two years ago, they set out to furtherfocus their attention to help people living with Type 1 diabetes, by launching the 4SURE range of glucose meters and partnered with the revolutionary Diabetes:M App. With the aim of being the single one stop shop for every person requiring blood glucose monitoring, Nipro set about bringing into a needy market, a combined process that was affordable for the NHS, and easy to understand for you and I.

Tom Atkinson, Country Manager of Nipro Diagnostics UK, looks corporate cool – with a fashionable soft northern accent, dressed in an open white shirt, he leans into his screen and talks fluidly about his Insulin Pharma background, and the wish to be part of a complete solution. 

“What we understood from day one, was that we have to work the same way as our patients. They don’t want a meter that the NHS cannot afford; they want one with Bluetooth connectivity.And they want an App, which has got to be their Dashboard – everybody wants an App. Our big plus is that access to our new innovative technology, is obviously free, along with the Starter Pack from their diabetes clinic – which includes their initial consumables.”

We talk about the pandemic. It is an irony that, at a time when the NHS and health service provision has been desperate for so many – the essential acceptance overnight of remote diagnostics and monitoring by NHS nurses, has been a game changer for the better, for Nipro. 

“Clearly, we had not forecast a pandemic”, continues Tom, “but it was obvious that it was only a matter of time before common acceptance and a desire for remote diabetes monitoring. What has helped, is that our meters have an accuracy rate of 99.3%, and we are the fastest growing provider of diabetes solutions”.

The corporate ethos of a sales pitch is creeping into the discussion, and I don’t have a problem with that. What is equally evident is the pride of helping the ordinary person with diabetes, just being available, at the end of a phone line if a patient needs help or advice.  But that does not address the basic issue of human behavior. A diabetes meter can only be reactive to a patient’s condition.

Not necessarily. By giving the patient an affordable, information-driven, platform to manage their condition, patients themselves can change their lifestyles armed with the facts and see the benefits of their condition improving by relating to their life choices.

Tom interrupts; “yes, this is true – we are “part” of the solution – but for the patient, we are the major part – as it’s our technology they are using every day and we are the link between them and their own clinic or doctor, as we are providing the vital remote monitoring bridge to keep a patient in touch with their HCP so they can monitor their glucose levels remotely in real time and change their medication and other variables, there and then, if needs be”.

The focus of the discussion goes back to that of patient-provider relationship. “We don’t want diabetes to be the affliction for everyone – but we do want to provide the all-embracing solution for those that need it”. Tom looks at his watch. We have been engaged in academic discussion for nearly an hour, and it is Friday afternoon, end of July. He is taking his family on holiday. 

I closed my screen and take a moment of reflection. Innovation is not necessarily about technology. The patient also has a role to play. The Innovation at Nipro is the approach, taking the fear-factor, the newness, and combining it to tech that simply delivers, and communicating that to the person in the street.

THE PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE

We talk with Dr Minesh Patel, Partner at the Moatfield Surgey in the UK, and ask – how come they are so good at delivering healthcare for the common man?

Why is it in the UK NHS, that there are good surgeries, and not so good ones, and well, rank awful ones? Why are some standout – and others not so? If human nature is a common denominator, why are there not a set of standard rules, a sort of “go to guide for repairing a surgery”, a recipe book for getting it right, that we all can apply, and that’s job done? And if human nature is indeed the common linking factor, – does this explain why some surgeries are so terrified of change? And others embrace it.

At a time when “innovation”, and “digitalisation” are this year’s buzzwords, can these be imposed by some higher authority – “look, here’s some money, go and start this or that process?” – And if that is the case, then why do we not all have standout surgeries?

The answer is that my human nature, is not your human nature. In short, the success of a surgery, depends on the individual, and the mix of individuals, in each case. You’ve got to “want” to be innovative, to deliver excellence. The only question is whether this is nature at all – or nurture, can we “learn” to be innovative?

Minesh Patel hesitates as he answers this one. In his case, there was never much choice. His father was a doctor, his own daughter is a student doctor, so this is a family tradition so to say, The choice of working in a hospital, or running a surgery, was the freedom to improve and innovate given within a surgery, but it was a journey, taking in improving PCT performance, being Chair of a CCG, leading the clinical strategy development of a developing iCS, before settling and developing the Team at Moatfield, in East Grinstead.

Minesh readily admits that he cannot change or improve everything. Sometimes, the structures themselves do not lend themselves to change. And health inequality from one region to another, one person to another, is a life reality. Having said all that – is there a “process”, an attitude of mind, that is the difference , and what would be the roadmap for other surgeries to follow?

“The answer is little steps, all the time”, answers Minesh.

“At Moatfield, we have a daily huddle, we analyse all of our processes, and we act quickly. Our new website took just 4 days of re-tooling. We are not afraid to act if we believe in something” Minesh uses the word “innovative” a lot. 3 years ago, he became Chair of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC), which he says has brought him into contact with a lot of like minded and talented people around the country, both within other surgeries and other providers, who are beacons of excellence, and who are learning from each other. It’s a case of seeing “what are the neighbours doing”. so to say. But it is also visionary.

Although we are talking about the daily routine, there is a focus also on the wider picture, why can’t we do things in a different way.

We are getting ahead of ourselves in the discussion.

As if on cue, I look at my watch – we have been talking for 29 minutes. “I’m really sorry!”, Minesh says…. “I have a patient call in a minute”

CAN MUSIC MAKE THE WORLD GO ROUND?

We talk with Andrew Given, Development Director of the English National Opera company in London, about the new ENO Breathe project that has taken both healthcare COVID support, and music markets by storm.

The answer to the above is yes, and no. It is not music per se but it is opera, and the deeper answer is; yes, – very possibly, and in ways that we could not have imagined.

Even more curious, is that – it is not like Opera is a household accepted musical item. It has that bourgeois middle class image which even ENO, the common man entry point for opera, inhabits. And yet here we have a project that is open for all and has to be so, regardless of musical ability or background.

ENO Breathe is a joint project that is a fully structured, thought-out, and managed collaboration, between the ENO, and Imperial College NHS Trust, that delivers a programme of breathing exercises, and participation in singing routines and soft lullabies – to help long term COVID suffers get over their condition.

It is a brilliant concept that astonishingly has no public funding – its initial pilot of 12 patients back in August was crowd-funded to the tune of £12K, by ENO Members, in just seven days. And Imperial College cover their own costs.

It is a marriage of expertise that can make, and is making such a difference already, across a divide that would not have been visible or noticed a year ago. You could say ENO Breathe was an accident, the result of perhaps an even more strange accident – where the seamstresses and costume teams at ENO – plus an increasing army of ENO staff and volunteers, produced the Scrubs for various hospitals, due to a national shortage of protective workwear.

From there, it is a short step to ask – “well, what else we can do?”

From those initial conceptual discussions in early June 2020 – ENO Breathe now has a network of regional NHS Hospitals all signed up to registering their COVID Patients into the scheme. Hospitals include all the main London hospitals, plus Liverpool Royal Infirmary, Manchester, Newcastle, and Oxford. Patient entry into the scheme has to be by referral only, from one of the above hospitals, or from a medical practitioner.

This is no singing group or roll-up choir practice. ENO Breathe is a medically based process that uses opera expertise at its highest level – for the good of patients who need help and who probably have never inhabited an opera house in their life.

And whilst Andrew would be supremely comfortable if patients in return, all became ENO Members, his more urgent need is to continue the funding process.

ENO is currently looking for corporate sponsors, who wish to be visible in their COVID support and also by implication, support for the Arts. It is a truism that every patient is somebody’s employee. You could argue there is a vested interest in corporates protecting their employees in a wider sense.

We finish our discussion. Andrew is sitting in white T-Shirt, in his pristine white lounge area at his home. He has other calls to make, One of the ENO mantras, is that opera is open to all – but I don’t think even he imagined how this would work out.
 
If you are interested in supporting ENO Breathe, please contact Andrew at agiven@eno.org and if you like to know more visit https://eno.org/eno-breathe/’
 

HAS HEALTHCARE CHANGED FOR EVER, BECAUSE OUR LIFESTYLES HAVE CHANGED FOR EVER?

We chat with HIMSS Global Clinical Director, Charles Alessi, about where healthcare is going for all of us, and what will be the key changes. It’s a wide ranging discussion…

It’s an obvious question with no obvious answer, because our original assessments of just 10 months ago, may well be incorrect.

Charles Alessi looks intently at me across the screen, we are on FaceTime, – he is dressed casually in a pastel coloured polo shirt, sitting in his relaxed lounge area of his home in south west London, there are rows of books behind, a sort of academic university professor ambience and it reminds me of my own one/one sessions all those years ago. As a former Chair of the UK’s National Association of Primary Care, and as an advisor to WHO – Charles is well placed to be talking about the problems of our time.

And COVID per se, may not be one of them. “There have always been pandemics,” he says. This particular COVID-19 is really a child of the 21st century, perfectly suited to our super connected societies where global travel between dense population centres  is as common as a daily commute” Charles is more referring to our personal ability to survive and manage ourselves in lockdown, or rather – survive the absence of face/face proper contact, and the distance management that is the glue that holds us all together and allows us to cope.

“Starting the day at 08.00am, from my living room, with a call to Tokyo – and then a 10.00 call to Berlin – with London time zone calls in between – and then the 17.00 call with California – all whilst sitting in my own arm chair and not having moved an inch – is not what our bodies and brains are designed for. We as humans, need the travel time, to adjust, to refocus, to wind down between sessions, so to say.”

So no – our Lifestyles have not changed for ever. We will inevitably return to the travel to meetings, as soon as it is safe to so do – because we are becoming disorientated without doing so.

Healthcare on the other hand, has indeed changed, and we cannot put the genie back in the bottle. It is obvious that telehealth, or telemedicine, and the remote monitoring of our conditions by clinicians, makes sense, and reduces costs. And where all of us are moving towards a single version of truth of our own health. And yet, this democratising of healthcare – Charles argues – has not happened. And so we have systems and processes designed to fix individual instances, but where in times of a pandemic, are forcing whole decades of instances into just a few months or even weeks. How can we possibly cope?

The key to where our health processes should be going, is at the beginning, where we stop being a binary society, – assuming we are all “well” – until we flick the switch one random day and find we are sick, we have a lump, a pain, whatever. And then we go to places called hospitals to fix the issue.

Our focus now should be the age of precision early management of our individual health. At a time when you and I as individuals already know from the data on our wrist, what is wrong with us even before the doctor ever speaks to us, we are now in a position to manage where our own health data and symptoms, and what Charles calls “non communicable diseases” , can take us, for our own good.

I was expecting somehow a medical discussion and yet this was not it. This was a look at where society is going, and what are we doing as society. But you and I as individuals, are society.

I always remember being late substantially for a meeting. I called ahead, as if my excuse – “I am in traffic!” – was good enough.

“But you are the traffic”, was the response.

COVID; Analysis of Key Commercial Benchmarks

We look at the past twelve months and ask – if everything has gone wrong, was that simply because of COVID, or were the downsides always there, it’s  just that Covid was the excuse  of choice? Or are there new trends and behaviours come to the surface that we never considered until now?

Looking at the obvious – you can  say that 2020 was the death knell of Events and Conferences. Major companies globally are in trouble and have not been able to rediscover a new secret sauce as to why you and should even  bother to attend an online event. As long as COVID continues, it is doubtful whether many will still be around with their current offering, thru to the end of 2021. In our discussions with vendors, we have yet to find any vendor that is satisfied that being part of a virtual event has has offered them any benefit at all. Criticisms range from “ this is a scam”, to the more polite “ it’s not the fault of the organiser, they are doing their best”  etc.

It is made doubly worse  by the lack of interest from so many delegates.  Worst in our discussions, were anything to do with the UK NHS. Even those that attend workshops have almost nil interest in pursuing a discussion after they have gone offline and  in almost all cases there is no way for a vendor to progress a discussion. Much better are the Financial events; there is a clear monetary and commercial objective  – but even then – online workshops that we looked at – were sparsely attended, the vendors themselves outnumbering the delegates.

This situation is made worse alas by the naivety and astonishing optimism of the conference organisers themselves, who routinely do not bother to answer emails from apparent interested parties, preferring to have a voicemail, saying “we are working from home”.  Or those who publish and write to us with sentences such as:”We bring people together and excite them with truly life-changing experiences. Creating the ideal environment for doing business, learning about new trends and innovations, and cementing relationships. Discover our unique mission, vision and values.”

This is not what people are saying to us.

At least some organisers are trying tho. This one in Liverpool, sent us a nice paragraph:

It is all down to simplicity and not trying to recreate a inperson conference. It is impossible to recreate an inperson event so why not shake things up and cater for what you have in hand. By having more focused sessions and pre arranged 1-2-1’s rather than a networking area sponsors, delegates and speakers have a much more comprehensive experience’
The trouble is – this  is alas not our experience, as well intentioned as it may be.
In short – the market exists on two levels; established vendors who just want to support their brand. They are not so dependent on  people coming to see them. Or at a deeper level – the vendor who has something new to say – in which case, the conference has work to do to keep the delegate focussed and  on-message. One thing is clear; the lack of face to face contact will continue for longer than we care to admit.
Looking  at our work habits, what is clear is that we all accept, employers and employees, that work is a thing we do, rather than a place we go. The problem is, that the novelty has worn off. What started as a great experiment, working from home – an increasing number of people have told us that six months in, they are much less focussed, and that work expands to fill the entire day. There is no “me” time.  We frequently receive emails at 23.00, from companies and even prospects, wanting our attention.  This is damaging to both our work performance and our personal health.
The good people at the property rental specialists Knotel company in London, who we have spoken to,  tell  us that corporates are looking in increasing numbers for short term flexible packages and locations.
All of which is good, for them, but we expect to see as the vaccine kicks in, a gradual return to the heady days of returning to an office to work. It has to be like this, for reasons of sharper contact with one’s colleagues, as well as the dependence on infrastructure, theatres, social gathering, that we all need as human beings. The only question is one of size; just how many people will indeed retreat from corporate values, and decide they actually like to earn less but are happier in themselves.
Moving on…..as of today (at time of writing I have just received a News Item that we have a Brexit deal, that will deliver us more or less half of what we already had anyway – clearly good news….) – this is a good moment to take stock and see which markets are now relevant, or have changed.
Talking to my colleagues in La Rochelle and Toulouse, and Paris, France; this is not a market that is worth exploring for the time being. The South West France in particular is in deep depression. The empty streets, the 20.00 curfew, has demoralised the french psyche.
Similarly, the failure of COVID free expression in Sweden, has created a sense of uncertainty among an increasing number of areas of Sweden, particularly around the Goteborg area. There are no such hesitations from the south of Sweden, or Norway.
Two things are of interest; there is a new vigour in the UK, to going and doing things. What was unmitigated disaster some nine months ago, has now manifested into something more positive. Similarly, my colleagues in Switzerland are saying “2020 was our best year”, from technology services to  consumer drinks. However – this growth has all been domestic. We would like to see more outreach from Swiss companies internationally.
Ultimately, it will in both  the consumer/delegate, as well as vendor and organiser, to increase their appetite for being serious and implemting change. That thread is the common denominator  of both avenues.  It will be interesting to see in twelve months time, which industries and geo areas have risen to the challenge.,

 

 

Coronavirus in Hull.

At a time when the North East city of Hull has become one of the highest rate of COVID in the Uk, – Amelia Grace, leading young blogger in East Yorks in the UK, gives a first hand assessment of where it is going wrong – and where does that leave the uk?

Coronavirus has been a common part of life for close to a year now. It’s plastered all over the news, it’s a massive topic of conversation and it’s all anyone seems to talk about. What do you think about the pandemic? Has the government handled it in the right way? When will we have a vaccine and will it have an impact? Will life ever be normal again?

These are some of the things I’ve discussed with people and I have wondered since March and the first lockdown.

More recently, the government has tackled the situation with a tiered approach, categorising places into medium, high or very high in terms of covid alert level. I’m a resident of Hull, a city in Yorkshire which started off in tier 1 and entered tier 2 just before the whole country was thrust into a lockdown on 5 November. Now, we have the most cases out of the whole of the UK and are set to enter tier 3 once we are released from lockdown. What went wrong in Hull?

Complacency. In my opinion, that is how Hull’s cases have suddenly projected so high. Starting off in tier 1, many of us were holding our breath, waiting and expecting to be moved up to tier 2 because our number of covid cases were closer to that of towns and cities in tier 2. Since tier 1 has the least amount of restrictions, people could still meet up in groups of 6 indoors and outdoors, visit cafes, restaurants and shops and basically live their lives in a fairly normal fashion. The fact Hull spent so long in tier 1 meant some of its people became more relaxed as you would if you were in the bottom tier and abandoned their more cautious attitude towards the virus. From my perspective, I typified this stereotype, spending much of my time in September and October, meeting up with my friends and family in a mixture of indoor and outdoor settings. Towards the end of October, I did start to get more anxious about having to isolate or catching the virus but it didn’t stop me from carrying on with life as normal.

Then all of a sudden, we were in tier 2. But it wasn’t all of a sudden. The truth was Hull had needed to be in the middle of the three tiers for a while. The citizens of Hull turned to outdoor gatherings as opposed to indoor ones and had their Halloween and Bonfire night parties before the 31st October when we were still under tier 1 rules. Was it a little too late though? The cases were already rising and had been ever since September. Alas, we will never know because the day that we moved into tier 2 was the day Boris Johnson announced a lockdown for the whole country. We spent less than a week enduring those tighter restrictions trying to get everything done for Christmas before we were locked back up in our homes.

Could the problem even be tracked back to March? Evidence shows that the first wave of the virus didn’t hit people in Hull nearly as badly as it did in other places. After the first lockdown, I could only name people who I had a very distant social connection to who had contracted the virus. Now, in November, I can name many. My teacher. My classmate. A member of my church. The personal connection to the virus that wasn’t there previously is now in full effect and it’s frightening to know that people you’ve seen recently have experienced the virus. It causes you to worry for your friends and family in a way you didn’t in the first wave and it proves it’s authenticity. It’s real. And it’s not going away.

The virus has affected me in a personal way as I am now isolating for two weeks after being in contact with someone at college who has contracted the virus. All things considered, it may be a blessing in disguise with the rapidly growing amount of cases in Hull. Even before our year group was sent home for this reason, some of my friends were already isolating due to being in contact with the virus. It has been spreading for a while and the hope of the city is that this lockdown will serve to break the chain in terms of infections and stop more people from overwhelming the NHS and ultimately dying from it.

Some positivity that has shone through all the bleakness is the way that the local media have handled the second wave as of recent times. Look North, our local news for East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire, have covered stories where they have spoken to people with the virus and hospital staff. Their aim is to spread awareness about the virus and the effects it can have and it is so refreshing to see this sector of the media using their influence for good. Instead of scaremongering or downplaying the virus, they have presented it as it is and are trying their best to help with the worsening situation.

Can Hull turn it around? Only time will tell. With this current lockdown and the tightened tier 3 measures this city could potentially face in December, it looks achievable. However, after the cases in Hull fall again, another area will assume the top spot of the most covid cases in England list. This cycle will continue over and over again until one day we beat the virus. Hopefully, that day will come soon.

 

NEW PANDEMIC ADVISORY BOARD TAKES SHAPE

The Pandemic Security Initiative Introduces Scientific Advisory Board Founding MembersLeading Scientists Join Together to Prepare for the Next Global Pandemic

In Cambridge, MA; Lebanon, NH; and New York, NY – Celdara Medical announced today the launch of the Pandemic Security Initiative’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), a group of outstanding scientists and infectious disease experts. The SAB is an integral part of the initiative, and informs the initiative’s priorities, approaches, and opportunities for collaboration, all in the pursuit of pandemic preparedness.

Amidst a second wave of Covid-19 infections with still no definitive end in sight, the key structural issue in resolving pandemic scale threats continues to be the lack of commercial incentive for proactive development of diagnostics, prophylactics, and therapeutics, especially for diseases without incidence.

The Pandemic Security Initiative is addressing this issue by bringing together public and private expertise and resources to identify, vet, and develop tests and medicines in preparation for future pandemics. It seeks to unleash and accelerate the copious innovation already present in our universities, government labs and small businesses to prepare and protect the country from future pandemics. Assembling the Scientific Advisory Board is the next step in the public-private partnership launch plan, bringing the leading minds and labs together to dramatically improve our collective readiness.

The Pandemic Security Initiative is pleased to welcome the following Founding Members to its Scientific Advisory Board:

Jason Botten, Ph.D. – Associate Professor of Medicine, Immunobiology Unit Department of Medicine at University of Vermont;
Dr. Botten’s research focuses on host-pathogen interactions among pathogenic RNA viruses (e.g. arenaviruses, coronaviruses, hantaviruses, and flaviviruses) and their human hosts and natural animal or insect reservoirs. His research goals include understanding protective immune responses to infection, discovery of key virus-host interactions that can be targeted for the development of therapeutics and vaccines, developing new cutting-edge assays and reagents for the field, and translating the most promising discoveries into therapeutics and vaccines.

Colleen Doyle Cooper, Ph.D. – Principal Scientist, Celdara Medical;
A key member of the Celdara Medical team, Dr. Cooper has led and participated in R&D programs ranging from oncology to fibrosis to infectious disease. She is trained in immunology with specific interests in autoimmunity and infectious disease.

Kendall Hoyt, Ph.D. – Assistant Professor of Medicine, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College;
Dr. Hoyt is an Assistant Professor at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth and a lecturer at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College where she teaches courses on technology and biosecurity. She serves on the National Academy of Sciences Committee on the Department of Defense’s Programs to Counter Biological Threats and on the advisory board of the Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Jonas Klingström, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, Group leader at Karolinska Institute;
The Klingström group aims to understand the mechanisms behind hantavirus pathogenesis and the consequences of infection, focusing on the capacity of viruses to affect normal cell signaling and functions, especially cell death, immune and inflammatory responses. The ultimate goal is to generate a better understanding of the details of virus-induced pathogenesis to aid in the development of specific treatment of patients.

Richard Kuhn, Ph.D. – Trent and Judith Anderson Distinguished Professor in Science, Department of Biological Sciences and Krenicki Family Director, Purdue Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Disease;
Interested in the replication, assembly and structure of RNA viruses with an emphasis on their host interactions, Dr. Kuhn’s molecular studies utilize cutting edge tools in functional genomics, high throughput systems technologies, cell biology, and structural biology. His recent focus has been on model systems in the enterovirus, alphavirus, flavivirus groups, and include viruses such as EV68, EV71, Sindbis, Chikungunya, dengue, Zika, and hepatitis C viruses.

Jonathan Lai, Ph.D. – Professor, Department of Biochemistry at Albert Einstein College of Medicine;
Dr. Lai’s group is broadly interested in the application of peptide, protein and antibody engineering methods for the discovery and development of novel immunotherapies and vaccines. His projects are highly interdisciplinary and involve aspects such as phage display, structure-based protein design, bispecific antibody engineering, structural biology, virology, and cancer biology.

Carolina Lopez, Ph.D. – Professor and BJC Investigator in the Department of Molecular Microbiology at Washington University;
The Lopez Lab uses a multidisciplinary approach to study the intimate relationship of a virus and the organism it infects. It focuses on dissecting the early events that determine the course of infection with various respiratory viruses. The laboratory places particular attention to the role of defective viral genomes generated during virus replication in determining the outcome of infection.

Jason McLellan, Ph.D. – Jason McLellan, Ph.D. – Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Biosciences, The University of Texas at Austin;
McLellan Lab seeks to obtain structural information on proteins and their interactions with host macromolecules and translate this knowledge into the rational development of therapeutic interventions such as small-molecule inhibitors, protective antibodies and stabilized vaccine immunogens. These efforts are highly collaborative and involve domestic and international investigators from academia, government, and industry.

Erica Ollmann Saphire, Ph.D. – Professor of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology;
Dr. Saphire has galvanized five continents of scientists into a unified force to discover, develop and deliver antibody therapeutics against multiple families of emerging infectious diseases, including most recently SARS-CoV-2. Her research explains, at the molecular level, how and why viruses are pathogenic and provides the roadmap for medical defense. Her team has solved the structures of the Ebola, Sudan, Marburg, Bundibugyo and Lassa virus surface glycoproteins, explained how they remodel these structures as they drive themselves into cells, how their proteins suppress immune function, and where human antibodies can defeat these viruses.

Ben tenOever, Ph.D. – Professor of Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai;
The tenOever lab is interested in the way cells have evolved to defend themselves against virus. More specifically, the lab focuses on what constitutes different cellular defense systems, how these systems have been shaped over time, and how viruses circumvent them and cause disease.

“The Pandemic Security Initiative is honored to collaborate with the best and brightest infectious disease researchers in the country, and beyond” said Dr. Jake Reder, co-founder and CEO of Celdara Medical. “This hand-selected group of experts within the scientific, academic and medical communities will continue to help us advance the Pandemic Security Initiative’s goals by providing insight, innovation, criticism, project selection and more.”

The Pandemic Security Initiative provides a potent layer of security that was previously absent – the proactive development of innovative, purpose-built diagnostics, medicines and devices in anticipation of future pandemic threats. By unleashing the innovative power of America’s university systems and the $6 billion per year in National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) support allocated to the most promising researchers in the country – including those on this SAB – the Pandemic Security Initiative has a singular mission: to secure our nation against future pandemic threats.”

Our Comment; Whilst this is a profoundly US momentum – there is still one European member, from Karolinska Hospital in Stockholm. There are no British or other EU protagonists, which we think is a pity.  If you are interested in keeping up to date with this Organisation, please get in touch with us at ProfoMedia, and we will do our best to link you.