OIS founder and co-chair Emmett Cunningham Jr., MD, welcomes attendees to the first annual Ophthalmology Innovation Summit held prior to the annual meeting of the American Society of Retina Specialists. In the short speech, Cunningham, a partner at Clarus, lays out the significance of the retina and explains why the event will be a staple of OIS going forward.
Emmett T. Cunningham Jr., MD, PhD, MPH
Dr. Cunningham, currently a Partner, joined Clarus in 2006 with more than 20 years of experience in the biomedical and biopharmaceutical sectors.
Emmett Cunningham: Welcome to the first OIS@ASRS. Thank you. Thank you. Usually, we kick off these meetings, I in the fall and Bill in the spring, with sort of an annual overview of the space. We do that twice a year, and so we thought maybe three times a year might be a bit much. We’re not going to do a full year in review. We are going to make a few comments, though. Let me have my slides, if I might. First, we don’t give as much thanks as we should to the Healthegy, the OIS team. So you’ll see these people here and about. They make all this happen. If you see them, thank them please, as we try to do. They do a great job with the meetings. And this is our third. And if you’ve been to the meetings, you’ll recognize what they and we all have been able to do in the past. We’ve had now 12 of these meetings, 7 of them at AAO, and 5 at ASCRS. And they’ve gone, I think, pretty well. They seem to have generated interest, enthusiasm, and provide something that wasn’t out there. And as we talked about perhaps introducing a third, we wanted to do one in retina. And so we came to ASRS. And why ASRS? The simple fact was that this was the one retina meeting that actually had the mix of people that we were looking for, which is the large and small corporates, the thought leaders, the physicians, treating physicians, and then the investors. And so we’re here and we thank them for having us here. And because why retina? Because it’s important. Here’s the global pharma market. Fifteen in 2020, and you can see retina dominates this. And if you include glaucoma as retina, which it should be but we don’t because the anterior docs treat it, it’s by far most of the pathology is in the retina per se. And that’s where the drugs are and most of the procedures, now that we include intraocular injections are retina and dedicated toward retinal therapeutics. And lastly, I would say most of the investment for those two reasons is heading toward retina. Not all. There are other active areas. But there’s a lot of activity in retina and its associated indications like uveitis, drug delivery, etc. So that’s why retina. And ASRS is because it’s the best place to be, and because our honorary co-chairs and the executive committee of the ASRS has said yes, we’d be happy to have you. So thank you to Tariq and to Mark and Jill for allowing us to join them here. Here’s how these meetings have done over time, if you like to follow these things. I do perforce. You can see AAO in blue, ASCRS in yellow, and the single dot, ASRS. I’ve just been told we’re about 240, between 240 and 250 registered today, which I think is a good kickoff meeting, considering that there’s only about 1800 people that come to the entire conference here. So a very good first showing. Thank you all for coming and supporting the meeting. And here is who is sitting next to you. If you look, it’s a very similar distribution to what we’ve had in other meetings and reflects what I think Bill and Gil and my intent has been all along, which is that mix of people in industry with the thought leaders, innovators, and the people who provide the money, and then who support it all. So a great mix. Thanks to the sponsors. Even with this many people and the sponsors, it’s hard to pull off a meeting like this. They’re quite expensive, so thank you for helping us get everyone together. Thank you for our lunch networking hosts at Aerie. Thank you for that. So what are we going to cover today? Obviously we’re going to talk about retina. And we wanted to have this meeting to talk about things we don’t have time to talk about at the larger meeting, which has become increasingly strategic and financial and business model oriented. We wanted to do a little bit deeper diver. So we’re going to have our traditional company showcase, and Tracy Saxton from Roche Ventures will moderate that, and we’ll see what we all think are some of the more innovative, inspiring technologies and companies that are emerging in the retina space. And I think you’ll see, if you’ve been to OIS@AAO, that we’ll have some companies that have had a hard time presenting at AAO, not because they’re not innovative; it’s just because we’ve migrated, right or wrong, towards drugs and devices, and have given less of a platform for imaging and diagnostics, and I think yet another reason to have this meeting where those technologies are perhaps most relevant and most innovative. We’re going to have our traditional overview of the financing world, both private financings and exits by John Norris at Silicon Valley Bank. And Andrew Gitkin from Piper Jaffrey will give us the public markets overview. These are among the favorite and most highly rated talks because they give very nice overviews of the sector. And even if you’re not in finance, as I happen to be now largely, I think you’ll understand and follow them and it’ll give you a perspective that you don’t normally think about. So thanks to them for coming. Bill Link is then going to moderate a first of its kind panel for OIS, and that is Innovation in Imaging, again something that we’ve neglected and we’re about to change. We’re going to kick off with a couple of short presentations on OCT, angiography and intraoperative OCT as paradigms for the cutting edge in that space. And then we’re going to turn to some thought leaders, some strategic positions of executives, I should say, to talk about how they view innovation, how much is internal, how much is external, where are they looking to get the next new thing when they look across the sector. We’re then going to have a panel on paying for all this, paying for the biologics and the biosimilars, which should be less expensive, but won’t be free, and the gene therapies, these one-time treatments. What is the model to pay for those? And Tariq Hassan is going to moderate the presentations by two representative companies, Pfenex, which has a biosimilar ranibizumab and AGTC, which is cutting edge gene therapy for retinal disorders. You’ll see their science, you’ll see what they have, and then we’ll have a discussion that Bill will moderate with Tariq. I’m sorry, Gill will moderate on the how do we pay for all this and what models make sense, how much is too much. That should be fun. Gill always makes it fun. And then Humayun and I are going to turn to combination therapies, which I think is one of the most relevant issues in retinal therapeutics. We’re going to have 4 companies present in a rapid fire succession, representative for Regeneron, which David Boyer, then Aerpio, Allegro and Ophthea. So different mechanisms that are trying to get to the same point, which is increased or augmented therapy in either AMD or DME. And then this world-class panel will talk about where is the unmet need, what are we chasing anyway. Is it neuroprotection? Is it anti-fibrosis? Is it more drying? What do we need more of in this sector? Lost control. And then we’ll close with Jim Mazzo’s always great Masters of Industry, and these will be sort very high level discussions of where the sector’s going and how they view the world of retinal ophthalmics in particular. I hope you stay for the entire meeting. We have a nice reception at the end, and Ora has kindly hosted that reception, so please stay and thank you to Ora for that. And please mark your calendars for these next two dates. You can actually register here if you’d like for those two dates.