A pho­to log of my week in Shang­hai, host­ing the first an­nu­al US-Chi­na Bio­phar­ma In­no­va­tion and In­vest­ment Sum­mit

I’ve re­turned from a week in Shang­hai af­ter host­ing our first BI­IS con­fer­ence in Chi­na. It was ex­tra­or­di­nar­i­ly suc­cess­ful from my stand­point as the chief ex­ec­u­tive here at End­points News. (Yes, we’ll be re­turn­ing even big­ger in 2019.) This year we were joined by 250 del­e­gates who came to par­tic­i­pate in two days of meet­ings fea­tur­ing some of the most rec­og­niz­able names in the biotech world — which is led firm­ly by the Unit­ed States and Chi­na now.

The BI­IS con­fer­ence was cre­at­ed from scratch to gath­er bio­phar­ma lead­ers from around the world in an ul­tra-mod­ern fo­rum con­duct­ed in both Eng­lish and Chi­nese. Re­al­time trans­la­tions were pro­vid­ed in both lan­guages. The goal was to pro­vide com­mon space for serendip­i­tous ac­tion and part­ner­ship be­tween del­e­gates and speak­ers. Thanks to the hard work by the joint team at End­points and Pharm­cube, that vi­sion be­came a re­al­i­ty this week.

John Car­roll’s fire­side chat with Fa­heem Has­nain


Vivek Ra­maswamy lis­tens to re­al-time trans­la­tion of Dr. Jin­hui Gu’s keynote


Nisa Le­ung of Qim­ing Ven­tures de­liv­ers her keynote ad­dress 


Karen Liu, founder of 3E BioVen­tures, ad­dress­es del­e­gates


Grace Lu of Rus­sell Reynolds mod­er­ates a pan­el on the chal­lenges of re­cruit­ing tal­ent in this com­pet­i­tive bio­phar­ma mar­ket


Mem­bers of the End­points team at gala din­ner


I want­ed to give read­ers some brief im­pres­sions along­side a lengthy vi­su­al log in­to what the sum­mit was like. I’ll start with of­fi­cial pic­tures from the con­fer­ence and mix in some shots from my per­son­al iPhone as well to­ward the end.

by Ar­salan Arif


John Oyler BeiGene


John Oyler, the Amer­i­can CEO and founder of Chi­na-based Beigene, is a true pi­o­neer in the US-Chi­na bio­phar­ma sphere, and as such we se­lect­ed him as one of our chair­peo­ple for the BI­IS sum­mit. He kicked off the pro­ceed­ings with a keynote and took meet­ings at BI­IS through­out the day, stay­ing for the gala din­ner Mon­day evening.

Two things he said stuck out to me: 1) Chi­na will be the top coun­try for bio­med­ical clin­i­cal re­search in the near fu­ture, full stop; and 2) Chi­na en­ables an al­ter­na­tive busi­ness mod­el for bio­phar­ma where com­pa­nies no longer have to re­ly on ex­ist­ing US pric­ing schemes to be vi­able.


John Car­roll End­points News


Our own John Car­roll was up next. He has over one mil­lion words on the record over his 15 years of biotech cov­er­age. Over the course of the week I met count­less Chi­nese bio­phar­ma ex­ec­u­tives who re­count­ed sto­ries to me when they first start­ed read­ing John Car­roll. As long­time read­ers know, both John and I were at a pre­vi­ous com­pa­ny, pub­lish­ing un­der a dif­fer­ent ban­ner, pri­or to found­ing End­points News in June 2016. It was in­spir­ing to hear how many ex­ec­u­tives John has helped learn the ins and outs of bio­phar­ma from his cov­er­age ear­ly in their ca­reers, and now them­selves have moved in­to the ranks of peo­ple John and his team of ed­i­tors at End­points cov­er. John has been say­ing “Chi­na is com­ing” for eight years now. Chi­na has ful­ly ar­rived. There’s tremen­dous pro­fes­sion­al sat­is­fac­tion in be­ing on the ground, in full force, cov­er­ing it for our read­ers now.


Leon Chen 6 Di­men­sions


Chair­ing day two is one of the most in­flu­en­tial Chi­nese ven­ture cap­i­tal­ists in the world: Leon Chen, the found­ing part­ner and CEO of 6 Di­men­sions Cap­i­tal, the prod­uct of a re­cent merg­er of Front­line BioVen­tures and WuXi Ven­tures.

Dr. Chen is a mem­ber of the Ex­pert Re­view Pan­el for the Chi­nese Cen­tral Gov­ern­ment’s “1000 Tal­ents Pro­ject” and thus has keen in­sights in­to the re­cent phe­nom­e­non of Chi­nese tal­ent com­ing back af­ter train­ing and get­ting a foothold in Amer­i­ca. He’s led a num­ber of in­vest­ments in the life sci­ences, in­clud­ing Curon, Hua Med­i­cine, In­novent, Ada­gene, and many more. If you read End­points News, Leon Chen is a reg­u­lar fix­ture when we re­port on the lat­est star­tups out of both Chi­na and the Unit­ed States.


Mingde Yu 于明德 Chair­man, Chi­nese Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal En­ter­pris­es As­so­ci­a­tion

Jin­hui Gu 顾金辉 Di­rec­tor, Of­fice of Ma­jor Drug De­vel­op­ment


We were de­light­ed to host two ma­jor fig­ures from Chi­na’s key cen­tral gov­ern­ment func­tions. No un­der­stand­ing of Chi­na is com­plete with­out the per­spec­tive of these se­nior lead­ers and how they view this cur­rent mo­ment in the de­vel­op­ment of Chi­na’s bio­phar­ma in­dus­try. For Eng­lish-on­ly BI­IS at­ten­dees, re­al-time trans­la­tions were key, as one of our cen­tral goals was to make every part of the con­fer­ence ac­ces­si­ble to all re­gard­less of lan­guage.

Mingde Yu de­liv­ered a keynote on Mon­day morn­ing which cen­tered around the re­mark­able progress be­ing made in Chi­na. He’s cur­rent­ly the chair­man of the Chi­nese Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal En­ter­pris­es As­so­ci­a­tion, pre­vi­ous­ly hav­ing been in mul­ti­ple lead­er­ship roles in key cen­tral gov­ern­ment func­tions.

And on Tues­day we heard from Dr. Jin­hui Gu, di­rec­tor of the Na­tion­al Health Com­mis­sion’s Na­tion­al Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Ma­jor Pro­jects for New Drug De­vel­op­ment. He ad­min­is­ters a gov­ern­ment grant pro­gram of 33 bil­lion RMB which sup­ports al­most every new drug de­vel­op­ment pro­gram that has re­ceived mar­ket ap­proval in re­cent years. With more than 15 years work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in Chi­na’s high­est reg­u­la­to­ry agen­cies, he made it clear that there is a clear man­date for Chi­nese-led in­no­v­a­tive drug de­vel­op­ment right from the top. And while much progress has been made, we’re still in the ear­ly days of Chi­na’s con­tri­bu­tion here.


Fred Co­hen Vi­da Ven­tures


Fred Co­hen, the co-founder and se­nior man­ag­ing di­rec­tor at Vi­da Ven­tures, de­liv­ered an in­spir­ing keynote ad­dress on Mon­day morn­ing which cen­tered around en­tre­pre­neur­ship and the lessons Chi­nese bio­phar­ma in­vestors might learn from the US bio­phar­ma ven­ture ex­pe­ri­ence.

As many in our au­di­ence know, on top of his in­vest­ing ca­reer Dr. Co­hen was at UCSF from 1980-2014 hold­ing mul­ti­ple re­spon­si­bil­i­ties rang­ing from re­search sci­en­tist to chief of en­docrinol­o­gy and me­tab­o­lism. He’s pub­lished over 200 peer re­view ar­ti­cles, and was elect­ed to the In­sti­tute of Med­i­cine and Na­tion­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences in 2004, and the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Arts and Sci­ences in 2008. He’s keen­ly in­ter­est in Chi­na and we had a great chat about the CRO busi­ness in Asia-Pa­cif­ic and just how much it dif­fers from what we see state­side. (Hint: They’re crit­i­cal­ly im­por­tant to the bio­phar­ma in­fra­struc­ture in Chi­na, much more so than what we see state­side.)


Nisa Le­ung Qim­ing Ven­tures


Nisa Le­ung is the man­ag­ing part­ner of one of Chi­na’s top VC firms which man­ages over US$4 bil­lion in as­sets and has in­vest­ed in over 270 com­pa­nies. Ear­li­er this year we at End­points News named her as one of the top 12 Chi­na VCs that you need to know. She point­ed­ly brought up the trade war be­tween the US and Chi­na and said al­though it will have a neg­a­tive im­pact, we need to pre­pare for a sec­ond Trump term and weath­er the storm be­cause the US-Chi­na re­la­tion­ship pre­dates and will out­last Trump.


Fa­heem Has­nain Gos­samer Bio


Fa­heem Has­nain, the ex-CEO at Re­cep­tos and now co-founder of Gos­samer Bio, had a juicy fire­side chat with John Car­roll.  He told the au­di­ence how glum the mood was in the room with his up­per man­age­ment team af­ter they had just closed the $7 bil­lion Cel­gene sale. Glum, you read that right. Fa­heem re­count­ed for the BI­IS au­di­ence in raw de­tail what John Car­roll had al­ready re­port­ed on for the on­line End­points au­di­ence back in Jan­u­ary this year, and he took it a step fur­ther in Shang­hai ex­plain­ing just why Cel­gene isn’t pleased with him these days. He’s mak­ing it as easy as pos­si­ble for tal­ent to flock back to what he and his team are do­ing at Gos­samer.


Vivek Ra­maswamy Roivant


Vivek Ra­maswamy gave one of the most provoca­tive speech­es of the sum­mit, and then im­me­di­ate­ly sat down with John Car­roll for a fire­side chat to de­fend his pre­dic­tions. His bold call that bio­phar­ma will have fig­ured out all of its “col­lec­tive ac­tion prob­lems” by 2035 in­stant­ly sent lo­cal WeChat groups abuzz with chat­ter.

Lo­cal Chi­nese in­vestors and en­tre­pre­neurs that I spoke with were keen­ly aware of the $4 bil­lion Vivek has raised for his Vants and the 34 pro­grams they’ve got in the clin­ic. Lat­er on in the day I saw him around the Four Sea­sons, hav­ing lunch with sev­er­al del­e­gates and be­ing in­ter­ro­gat­ed about his plans for Sino­vant and Data­vant.


Brad Lon­car Lon­car In­vest­ments


Brad Lon­car is well known to End­points read­ers as a con­trib­u­tor to this pub­li­ca­tion, and as a biotech an­a­lyst and in­de­pen­dent in­vestor who has cre­at­ed mul­ti­ple life sci­ences ETF prod­ucts for in­vestors — his two ini­tial prod­ucts are $CN­CR and $CHNA.


This trip was my first time to Chi­na. I could not have asked for a bet­ter part­ner than the im­pres­sive team at Pharm­cube. Pro­duc­ing an in­ter­na­tion­al event in 90 days from a stand­ing start, which is what the team above did, can on­ly be done by a group of peo­ple who gen­uine­ly en­joy work­ing to­geth­er. The cru­cible can get hot. Above, pic­tured from left to right, is Richard Wang, Jean Cheng, my­self, Am­ber Tong, Jian­hua Jiang, and Chaowei Guo. Be­low is the en­tire Pharm­cube-End­points Chi­na team.

If you haven’t been to Chi­na yet, but fol­low Chi­na with in­ter­est, the su­perla­tives that come with Shang­hai all ap­ply. It’s spec­tac­u­lar. Un­like any city I’ve ever been to. The area that our con­fer­ence was in, Pudong, was grass fields 10 years ago. Now tow­ers of spec­tac­u­lar ar­chi­tec­ture shoot to the sky, con­nect­ed with thought­ful in­fra­struc­ture at pre­cise­ly the right widths and den­si­ty.

I’m from Kansas, came of age in DC and the I-95 cor­ri­dor, been all over the West Coast, trav­eled ex­ten­sive­ly across these Unit­ed States. And we have no frame of ref­er­ence for this kind of de­vel­op­ment.

There are some pre­dic­tions which this sum­mit has gal­va­nized for me — name­ly, that Chi­na will be the num­ber one na­tion for clin­i­cal re­search in due time — and oth­er pre­dic­tions that I’m am­biva­lent on. Ei­ther way, there will be more di­a­logue and End­points News and our part­ner Pharm­cube will con­tin­ue to fa­cil­i­tate the very best high-lev­el meet­ing that US-Chi­na bio­phar­ma pro­fes­sion­als can turn to. And you can ex­pect that on an an­nu­al ba­sis.

Here’s a sun­rise view from my ho­tel room at the Four Sea­sons.

Lat­er here I’m work­ing from the 35th floor on Sat­ur­day be­fore the con­fer­ence. The views are ar­rest­ing.

There’s a qual­i­ty to it that I couldn’t quite put my fin­ger on.

Be­ing from Kansas, I’m used to “free­dom-lov­ing coun­try” where in­di­vid­u­al­ism and a right to pri­va­cy is sim­ply the de­fault. So to get bio­met­ri­cal­ly scanned up­on ar­rival at the air­port, you take no­tice. Every­thing is reg­is­tered. Every­thing. My fel­low Kansan Brad Lon­car tweet­ed about los­ing his pass­port and iPad on a bench Tues­day night af­ter our #BI­IS18 con­fer­ence con­clud­ed.

If he’d done that in NYC, prob­a­bly Kansas too, his iden­ti­ty would have been stolen and his new Ap­ple prod­uct as good as gone. In­stead the po­lice showed up the next morn­ing at his ho­tel room be­cause some­one had turned it in, and the au­thor­i­ties knew where to find Brad Lon­car.

That kind of sys­tem is new to a Kansan.

Glu­cose Biosen­sor Sys­tems CEO Har­ry Sime­oni­dis an­nounces news at the con­fer­ence


Rus­sell Reynolds Grace Lu in­tro­duces her pan­el on tal­ent re­cruit­ment


Vivek Ra­maswamy gives an ex­plain­er on his Vants


End­points founder/CEO Ar­salan Arif mod­er­ates a pan­el on what US ex­ecs want from Chi­nese deals


Janet Mc­Ni­cholas with Jones Day speaks with Vi­da Ven­tures’ Fred Co­hen


Pharm­cube’s Jean Cheng 程静 mod­er­ates a pan­el on the Chi­nese on­col­o­gy pipeline


John Car­roll and Vivek Ra­maswamy fire­side chat


Na­tal­ie Chen of the Hong Kong stock ex­change ex­plains their new rules on list­ing


John Oyler, Founder and CEO of BeiGene, de­liv­ers a keynote ad­dress


Nisa Le­ung meets with del­e­gates


Mer­ck is tak­ing the ax to its US op­er­a­tions, cut­ting 500 jobs in its lat­est re­or­ga­ni­za­tion

Merck is cutting 500 jobs in its US sales and headquarters commercial teams in its latest effort to find new ways to streamline the operation.

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Alice Shaw, Lung Cancer Foundation of America

Top ALK ex­pert and can­cer drug re­searcher Al­ice Shaw bids adieu to acad­e­mia, hel­lo to No­var­tis

Jay Bradner has recruited a marquee oncology drug researcher into the ranks of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. Alice Shaw is jumping from prestigious posts intertwined through Mass General, Harvard and Dana-Farber to take the lead of NIBR’s translational clinical oncology group.

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Mi­rati preps its first look at their KRAS G12C con­tender, and they have to clear a high bar for suc­cess

If you’re a big KRAS G12C fan, mark your calendars for October 28 at 4:20 pm EDT.

That’s when Mirati $MRTX will unveil its first peek at the early clinical data available on MRTX849 in presentations at the AACR-NCI-EORTC International Conference on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Boston.

Mirati has been experiencing the full effect of a rival’s initial success at targeting the G12C pocket found on KRAS, offering the biotech some support on the concept they’re after — and biotech fans a race to the top. Amgen made a big splash with its first positive snapshot on lung cancer, but deflated sky-high expectations as it proved harder to find similar benefits in other types of cancers.

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The FDA will hus­tle up an ex­pe­dit­ed re­view for As­traZeneca’s next shot at a block­buster can­cer drug fran­chise

AstraZeneca paid a hefty price to partner with Daiichi Sankyo on their experimental antibody drug conjugate for HER2 positive breast cancer. And they’ve been rewarded with a fast ride through the FDA, with a straight shot at creating another blockbuster oncology franchise.

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Sean Parker, AP

Sean Park­er helps cre­ate a CRISPRed cell ther­a­py 2.0 play — and he’s got a high-pro­file set of lead­ers on the team

You can rack up one more high-profile debut effort in the wave of activity forming around cell therapy 2.0. It’s another appealing Bay Area group that’s attracted some of the top hands in the business to a multi-year effort to create a breakthrough. And they have $85 million in hand to make that first big step to the clinic.

Today it’s Ken Drazan and the team at South San Francisco-based ArsenalBio that are coming from behind the curtain for a public bow, backed by billionaire Sean Parker and a collection of investors that includes Beth Seidenberg’s new venture investment operation based in LA.
Drazan — a J&J Innovation vet with a long record of entrepreneurial endeavors — exited the stage in 2018 when his last mission ended as he stepped aside as president of Grail. It wasn’t long, though, before he was helping out with a business plan for ArsenalBio that revolved around the work of a large group of interconnected scientists supported by the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunology.

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Med­ical an­i­ma­tion: Mak­ing it eas­i­er for the site and the pa­tient to un­der­stand

Medical animation has in recent years become an increasingly important tool for conveying niche information to a varied audience, particularly to those audiences without expertise in the specialist area. Science programmes today, for example, have moved from the piece-to-camera of the university professor explaining how a complex disease mechanism works, to actually showing the viewer first-hand what it might look like to shrink ourselves down to the size of an ant’s foot, and travel inside the human body to witness these processes in action. Effectively communicating a complex disease pathophysiology, or the novel mechanism of action of a new drug, can be complex. This is especially difficult when the audience domain knowledge is limited or non-existent. Medical animation can help with this communication challenge in several ways.
Improved accessibility to visualisation
Visualisation is a core component of our ability to understand a concept. Ask 10 people to visualise an apple, and each will come up with a slightly different image, some apples smaller than others, some more round, some with bites taken. Acceptable, you say, we can move on to the next part of the story. Now ask 10 people to visualise how HIV’s capsid protein gets arranged into the hexamers and pentamers that form the viral capsid that holds HIV’s genetic material. This request may pose a challenge even to someone with some virology knowledge, and it is that inability to effectively visualise what is going on that holds us back from fully understanding the rest of the story. So how does medical animation help us to overcome this visualisation challenge?

Hal Barron, GSK's president of R&D and CSO, speaks to Endpoints News founder and editor John Carroll in London at Endpoints' #UKBIO19 summit on October 8, 2019

[Video] Cel­e­brat­ing tri­al fail­ures, chang­ing the cul­ture and al­ly­ing with Cal­i­for­nia dream­ers: R&D chief Hal Bar­ron talks about a new era at GSK

Last week I had a chance to sit down with Hal Barron at Endpoints’ #UKBIO19 summit to discuss his views on R&D at GSK, a topic that has been central to his life since he took the top research post close to 2 years ago. During the conversation, Barron talked about changing the culture at GSK, a move that involves several new approaches — one of which involves celebrating their setbacks as they shift resources to the most promising programs in the pipeline. Barron also discussed his new alliances in the Bay Area — including his collaboration pact with Lyell, which we covered here — frankly assesses the pluses and minuses of the UK drug development scene, and talks about his plans for making GSK a much more effective drug developer.

This is one discussion you won’t want to miss. Insider and Enterprise subscribers can log-in to watch the video.

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Flu Virus (Source: CDC)

FDA ex­pands Xofluza ap­proval as Roche strug­gles to catch loom­ing flu mar­ket

As a potentially powerful flu season looms, so does a big test for Roche and its new flu drug, Xofluza. The Swiss giant just got a small boost in advance of that test as the FDA expanded Xofluza’s indication to include patients at high risk of developing flu-related complications.

Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil) was approved last October in the US, the first landmark flu drug approval in 20 years and a much-needed green light for a company that had watched its leading flu drug Tamiflu get eaten alive by generics. Like its predecessor, the pill offered a reduction in flu symptoms but not a cure.

EMA backs sev­en ther­a­pies, in­clud­ing Mer­ck­'s Ebo­la vac­cine

The first-ever Ebola vaccine is on the precipice of approval after the European Medicine’s Agency (EMA) backed the Merck product in this week’s roster of recommendations.

The drugmaker $MRK began developing the vaccine, christened Ervebo, during the West African outbreak that occurred between 2014 and 2016, killing more than 11,000.

The current outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has shown case fatality rates of approximately 67%, the agency estimated. Earlier this year, the WHO declared the outbreak — which so far has infected more than 3,000 people — a public health emergency of international concern.