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Long before pharma and medtech sales reps make their pitches to physicians, ophthalmic drug and device developers run their products through years of clinical trials. Most of the time, they turn to third-party vendors to get them across the finish line. One of the most important partners in that process are clinical research organizations (CROs), which manage all aspects of clinical trials from discovery through to regulatory approval and commercialization.
With offices in southern California and India, CBCC Global, a CRO with ophthalmology expertise, provides a range of services to help drug and device companies take their products to the next level. Under the leadership of CEO Manoj Vyas, CBCC has expanded its US and India markets and plans to strengthen its presence in Europe. Already well-versed in Phase I through IV clinical trials, CBCC plans to further diversify to offer preclinical support.
CBCC also champions innovation through strategic relationships. It recently entered into a joint agreement with StepWise Medical, a health technology startup accelerator that focuses on ophthalmology and optometry.
With host Ehsan Sadri, MD, Manoj and Sanjeev Ganatra, CBCC’s SVP of sales and marketing, discuss what’s next for CBCC and why they appreciate the close-knit ophthalmology community. They also discuss what they gained from having a few good mentors to guide them—not unlike how they now guide operations for their clients’ innovations today.
Listen to the podcast to discover:
• What brought both Manoj and Sanjeev to CBCC and how mentorship helped move their careers forward.
• The road ahead for CBCC and its “sweet spot”—ophthalmology drugs and medical devices.
• The advantage of having US offices near Orange County with its impressive ophthalmology ecosystem.
• Steps to take early and often to stand apart in a competitive industry.
Click “play” to listen now.
Ehsan Sadri: Hi, everybody, this is Ehsan Sadri, Board Certified Ophthalmologist here in Newport Beach, California. I’m also a GP at Visionary Ventures and I just I’m here with my good friends, Manoj and Sanjeev who are at CBCC Global. And we’re here today in an interesting time post-COVID. And we’re talking about sort of, you know, early development, mid-development ophthalmic companies. But I’ve had the fortune of knowing these two fine gentlemen, for some time and working with them, and talking to them and kind of understanding their methodology. And I really wanted our ecosystem to really learn about not just them, but also what they do with the part of the ecosystem of ophthalmology development they participate in and what value add they provide. And it’s, you know, Sanjeev and I have known each other for many, many years, I would say, probably north of 10 years, and as his will go to his background, and Manoj is a recent friend, and I’m just really excited for you guys to come on board. How’re you guys doing?
Sanjeev Ganatra: Doing well? Absolutely. Doing well. And thank you guys for having us. This is exciting for us to be able to give the ophthalmology community a little bit better sense of who CBCC Global Research is, obviously, communities in oncology, neurology, dermatology, and medical device are familiar with us, but we want to make sure that ophthalmology knows us just as well.
Ehsan Sadri: Yeah, welcome Manoj, tell us a little bit about your background. For those of you who don’t know, Sanjeev, we’ll go through his background. But Manoj, you’re mostly oncology as a background and a general partner of CBCC Global Research. Walk us through your personal background, where did you grow up? And then you know, what made you and aren’t you know, what, what is sort of the some of the influential, you know, inflection points in your career that you said, Hey, this is I want to be an entrepreneur.
Manoj Vyas: Sure. So first of all, thank you very much Doc Sadri for this opportunity, we really appreciate that. Going back to my background, I grew up in India, all the part of my initial years I was in Gujarat, one of the very intrapreneurial state within India, which itself is coming as a is a big country, which is contributing to a life science and pharmaceutical for enter world. I did study also the similar thing I did my master’s in clinical research. And that’s where actually I got pretty much inclined towards clinical research as a field. After spending a few initial years, with a few companies, I really become more and more serious about my entrepreneurial journey, and which I started in 2011. Since then, I have been independent doing my own business. And then slowly, slowly, I started getting more exposed to the Western world. In my initial career or career also, I had a lot of clients and friends in the USA and Europe. And one of this way, in such way, we got connected with Dr. Patel, the founder of CBCC. And that’s how I got in touch with them. And then the rest of the history, we are really doing an amazing job as a partner. And with that a great combination, we are growing services, global research to the next level.
Ehsan Sadri: That’s terrific. So you know, it’s an interesting space you’re in, because the most of as you know, you know that the world is most ophthalmologists when we see patients we’re dealing with post-approval products in the marketplace in the pharmacy, or in a surgical center setting now really compounding pharmacy and those things. And for those folks that don’t do clinical trials, I think it’d be really interesting for them to, you know, understand what CBCC Global Research does, and some similar companies do and what are some of the sort of things that are exciting and your path right now that you’re focusing on?
Manoj Vyas: Yes, so as, as I mentioned CBCC as a group, the origin is in cancer care. And that’s how we got exposed to the oncology clinical trial. Company CBCC started doing clinical trials in early early years, starting from 1995. We do a lot of trials with all big MNC companies in the oncology space, but then we acquired a CRO in India called VIBGYOR and that gave us a pretty good entry point into medical device space. And before we acquired that company, there was a big US MNC company which used to work a lot with VIBGYOR into cardiac and ophthalmic space. And that’s how we got to get exposed to the ophthalmic world, we started working in this particular space in device and then since then we are gaining a lot of expertise, experience. And then we are really, Dragon device ophthalmic spaces is one of our sweet spot now, we are very, very much excited about this particular space. We are learning everything, and anything which is important for us to get the work done in terms of execution. Along the way, we are creating good partnership like what we have been doing with you Doc Sadri, we are really thankful to you and then California ophthalmic ecosystem, it’s amazing. I personally never knew that Orange County and California group of people have such a strong influence in enter worldwide ophthalmic market. So we feel lucky that we are at the right space into the right community here, which we can really create a big impact for VanderWaal.
Ehsan Sadri: Very good. That’s a good summary. So Sanjeev let’s talk about you a little bit. I know you and a lot of the KOLs know you from your background. Tell us about your personal background. Where did you grow up? For those people that don’t know you. And then what are some early influential sort of entrepreneurial inflection points for you?
Sanjeev Ganatra: Yeah, no, thanks. It’s on. So you know, I grew up early in my life on the East Coast. And my family comes from a medical background. My dad was a physician, my mom, you know, trained as a dentist, and we moved to the West Coast. At an edit, you know, again, early stage in my life, had been in California for the majority of it, having studied at UC San Diego, and then did graduate school at the Drucker School of Management as well as USC. For me, I’ve been in the healthcare space for the majority of my career, I was really blessed early on to have great mentors. Many of them stay within the industry, Chris Dax, Mike Vidya, Vince Anido, Tom Nitro. These are folks who have been guideposts for me in terms of the way that they approach different aspects of in the industry, how they think about development, how they think about the partnership, how they think about care, and concern for all of those that are in the ecosystem. And I will never reach to that level. But I certainly am thankful for all of what they were able to do for me early on. from an education standpoint, and others who have influenced me, from a family standpoint, we have folks who have started businesses, have been incredibly successful in different areas, not even in healthcare, and speaking with them to be able to deliver that value, but be able to be away at a distance and be able to deliver value to so many people. It was so important to me, I thought about, you know, medicine, but I wanted to be able to deliver that healthcare value from a distance, and I feel that I’ve been able to marry those two together.
Ehsan Sadri: That’s terrific. You know, so you mentioned some big names, you know, Tom Mitro and Vince Anido, as you know, they’re good friends of ours. And what is it that when you’re going through this, and you see some people that are very successful in your pathway, that are some elements that are in your career, some mentors, you have, maybe from both of you tell me some highlights of mentors, you had initial career path that really led you then to think about, okay, this is what success looks like, and but also, this is what I want to go into eye care. Well, you know, why eye care? Why not, you know, other fields? Yes Sanjeev, let’s start with you.
Sanjeev Ganatra: Okay. Sure. Yeah. So I will say that the thing that resonated most about the people that I’ve been able to be around is their depth of knowledge. But at the same time, their sense of humbleness, about being with anybody and everybody, and understanding and catering to that level of individual, somebody who is brand new to ophthalmology. They’re not trying to show off. They’re trying to make sure that they educate, those that are familiar with ophthalmology and eye care. They are able to think about things in such a nuanced depth and how to bring value to the physicians to the patients to our community differently than what has been in the market today is completely evidenced by the fact that the folks that I’m mentioning are not individuals who are in executive positions of existing large, big companies but who have started at the ground and have brought innovation forward, not once, not twice, but repeatedly. And I think that they are always looking for how is it that we can help? What is the angle that we can bring to the market, and they execute on that effectively? And I feel, again, I feel like they have been able to teach me so many things that I’m hoping to eventually get to that place.
Ehsan Sadri: Manoj, let’s just talk to you a little bit about what your thoughts on that question.
Manoj Vyas: An amazing two points. Mentorship is extremely important for me and has been the biggest, I think, addition or probably a positive thing in my career. In my early age of my career, I really go to no group great leaders whose people who could lead the company, and then they guided me that if you really want to be a successful leader, you have to act as a one. And then you need to really have a good team, which can really, really stay with you for a long time, in your good time and bad time. You need to empower the team, that is another big learning I really learn from the mentorship or from the mentor. And another thing is that not a short term, but long-term vision into the business. So these couple of examples or learning which I got to learn from mentors mentor have been a tremendous help to me, and then one of the driver for my success, whatever little success I have achieved. Another why eye care. Because as I mentioned to you, I did the origin of CBCC Global Research and for me also was into cancer care or oncology trials, and then neuro psychiatry, those were area, eye care, to be very honest, when I got exposed to this world, and specifically this California, Orange County world, I got really, really excited because it is a small community, everyone knows the other person and then you start creating those kind of close circle in which you can really live together, grow together and then have a have a good time. I would also thank you, Dr. Sadri, that you have been another influencer for me specifically, personally, the way you got us exposed to the circle, which is pretty influential, but also at the same time very supportive. So that’s why I really enjoy eye care.
Ehsan Sadri: Although it’s a pleasure, I you know, my passion as you guys both know, it’s really moving along to technologies that fill an unmet need for patients. So, you know, to the extent that you know, we can do that, that’d be great. Let’s pivot let’s say I’m going to comprehensive this, I don’t do any clinical trials. What is this space? What is this research space that we’re doing? What kind of value added CBCC Global Research adding? And what are its competitors? What is the void that that you’re trying to fill?
Sanjeev Ganatra: So for a comprehensive ophthalmologist, that’s not doing clinical trials, the reality of what it is that they have in their practice evolves from innovation, the ability to be able to use femtosecond laser and, you know, improved IOL to open that cabinet and see novel glaucoma medications and be able to pull those things out in different categories at a moment’s notice. The ability to have different solutions now for presbyopia, then a, you know, a surgical procedure or in laser procedure, but something that is therapeutically delivered, all of that comes from the innovation that takes place years ago, or currently for them to have in their office tomorrow. And so our humbled part of that is to help facilitate those companies that want to innovate and have those assets or are thinking about those assets to innovate, and give them the guideposts, give them the clinical operations, be able to give them all of those pieces along the way to help that comprehensive ophthalmologist to have those tools and resources in practice. If we were to think back, you know, even 20 years ago, and again, specifically, you know, going into retina for just a moment. The choices in the retina were not as now let’s put it 30 years ago, the choices in the retina were not nearly as open or available as what you see today. There was an interest by industry. There were investors who put risk out there. There were physicians who had to think about things in a progressive manner for those patients and all have that combination with clinical research support is how we have that innovation in the office available for those patients today.
Ehsan Sadri: Very good. Manoj?
Manoj Vyas: Yeah, on the same line, I think what Sanjeev mentioned, in addition to that, what I would really point out here is that being a non-ophthalmic mainstream guy, I would think that the void, which is not for 100% ophthalmic focus companies, but companies like our current big few clients, which are from India, and China, which are not, doesn’t have any history and ophthalmic world, but now they are getting very, very serious for this particular rising field, and then they want to get exposed, and they want to really try their luck, then company like CBCC Global Research would come into the play, because we understand that pain, we understand that where they are not really nicely placed, they wouldn’t have access to a big KOL and right away, and they wouldn’t be really, really able to work with those top name and ophthalmic focus companies, because those ophthalmic focus companies, even the CROs, they don’t understand the pain point of these companies, because they have never got exposed to non-ophthalmic world. So that’s where I feel that we have created a niche for those companies, international companies, from emerging countries and Asian countries, they can, they’re relying on us a lot to really get their strong foot into these amazing ophthalmic ecosystems.
Sanjeev Ganatra: Ehsan I think Manoj brings up a good point where there’s sort of a unique, you know, what we believe to be unique difference with CBCC Global Research, where we work with so many different types of companies, we work with innovator companies, we work with innovator companies that are small and large, and be able to support them. But we also work with those companies who are potentially looking to say, hey, there’s a market opportunity here, these products are coming off label or coming off patent. And we have an opportunity to be able to be in that space as well. So how can we find the, you know, efficient CRO that can get us there in a way that makes sense for us. And we fit that model very nicely for a lot of these different companies.
Ehsan Sadri: Personally, I wanted you guys on to kind of educate our audience to have how expensive research is in ophthalmic community. Not only are there unmet needs out there, but really to Manoj’s point and your points Sanjeev. It’s a global phenomenon, we’re really connected and there that both the capital is global, and but also, the intellectual capital is global. And this is a big, what I call ophthalmology is a very big, small field. everyone kind of knows everybody. And there’s everyone who exits comes right back. It’s an incredible, as you know, Sanjeev it’s a big family. And I you know, I think that, you know, oncology is probably very similar traits, because I’ve heard from it, you know, that’s not my expertise. But I’ve heard the similar things, as well. So as you’re sort of looking to expand your services and technology, and what’s exciting, what’s the next one to five years look like? Both in the ecosystem just independent of your company, but also your vision of the company?
Manoj Vyas: Yeah, sure. I think it’s an amazing question. What we are focusing on now short term versus long term is that in short term, we are really working very hard to get really good strength in our regulatory offering. Right now we are doing great job. But we want to go to the next level in which we really support those companies which want to do a quick 5-10k or a quick, pre-IND or IND work on on a drug and device side. Also, there is a tremendous suggestion or feedback from our clients when we get the annual survey or feedback that they need more support on preclinical as well. So we have a very strong plan to put up the preclinical facilities in India and US. And the third, I think, which is going on a long term is to have a very strong organic presence in few of the countries in Europe, because that’s where also the medical device space. They love that particular region. And we definitely want to grow into that particular area as well. So these are the few areas or the action point through which we want to go to the next level.
Ehsan Sadri: Very good. So we could talk for hours and we often do we talk about global sort of needs ophthalmic, non-ophthalmic but our passion of ophthalmology, tell us some of the things if we were to talk to you, if I was a young 20-year-old, 21-year-old finishing college, we always like to give some pearls back to people like not only the career but also just some things that you would have done differently. We don’t call it regrets. We call it learned background; how would I improve my decisions from before? So what are some things you would give back? What are some things you would mentor your young self? If you were to go back?
Sanjeev Ganatra: So it’s a great question. And I think that for me, what I would suggest to somebody is a suggestion that was given to me when I was at a library, you know, one day, which was ongoing education, and focus in on specific topics of math or accounting. And I know this sounds silly, and it’s not at all what we’re related to. But the concept at that time of that gentleman telling me was ongoing education, you have to continue to be able to reach out and want to get, be educated and be hungry for being curious. Right? We can easily later on in our careers, find a niche that works for us find comfort zones that work for us, and live in that space, guess what, that’s not where growth is happening. We have to continue to be curious and look for that hunger, and I look at it when we’re trying to challenge ourselves through education.
Manoj Vyas: Yeah, I think it’s a great point what Sanjeev mentioned, in addition to that, I would for any young guy who is getting into the of the professional world, three solutions, I would make one is not a short term, but long term plan, which really helps you a lot, because short term gain can happen once or twice, but it will be very, very temporary in nature, or probably very short compared to what you can achieve in long term strategies. Second, would be training, I would always ask people that continuously train yourself because learning is the most powerful weapon through which we can you can differentiate yourself from the crowd, more and more you learn and you advance yourself would be very, very, I think, important for you. And third would, which I’ve been learning is that, not to multitask, you just stay focused on one particular thing. Dr. Patel, who is my partner and founder of CBCC has always, he never told me anything not to do or not to do. But one advice he has been giving me is that it’s always better to do one big thing than to do a 10 or 20, small thing. And more and more I learn and understand that it is actually helping me a lot. And in fact, in 2021, I have made a few very good decisions based on one simple small advice that it is important to create one big thing compared to 10 or 20 small things. So yeah, these other learnings.
Ehsan Sadri: Those are great. I love to keep talking with you guys further. Thank you for joining us. And I’m sure we’re going to bring you back on and hear more in the years to come. Thank you again for coming. And it was just a pleasure to be with you guys today.
Manoj Vyas: Thank you for the opportunity, Doc Sadri.
Sanjeev Ganatra: Thanks, Ehsan.