MS Society Disrupting Drug Development
In what seems like ages ago (about 3 years), Dr. Tim Coetzee, Executive Director of the MS Society’s FastForward organization, was kind enough to fork over his business plan to me and my colleagues as we endeavored to develop a business model to advance therapeutics for polycystic kidney disease via philanthropy-industry partnerships. At the time, FastForward itself was still relatively new (founded in 2007), and was on the bleeding edge of such an approach. Disruptive, to say the least.
Fast forward (some pun intended) to today, and FastForward has placed itself squarely in the center of the MS drug development ecosystem, catalyzing an MS drug pipeline through its innovative funding model. More than 15 industry partnerships across two $30 million funds, FastForward is vigorously investing in therapeutic development by helping biotechs bridge the critical ‘valley of death’ and attracting bigger partnerships and investments in to MS. Without FastForward’s efforts, the pipeline in MS would undoubtedly be much smaller.
As a kid, one of my closest friends’ mothers withered away from MS before our very eyes, leaving him without a mom at a vulnerable age. There are, unfortunately, millions of similar human stories across thousands of diseases. For these folks, disruptive organizations like FastForward are the very definition of hope.
Dr. Tim Coetzee, his colleagues and the many other like-minded, selfless people and organizations like them are pushing boundaries and going places where there are absolutely no manuals, no road maps, and no safety nets. They are the definition of disruption.