The May 20, 2010 edition of the Wall Street Journal published an interview with Andy Grove and UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann in which Chancellor Hellmann cited UCSF breast cancer surgeon and advocate Laura Esserman as an example of work in translational medicine. We excerpt that portion of the interview here.
Mr. Grove, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Intel Corp., recently announced a gift to UCSF to establish a joint two-year master's degree program in translational medicine through UCSF and UC Berkeley.
WSJ: What lessons would you draw from the semiconductor industry?
Mr. Grove: The first one of those, which I think is a crucial one, is to learn to turn around experiments and trials, questions and answers, modify the answers and go around the circle faster. So that in a career you can actually make more than one turn. Compare that with Phase One, Phase Two, Phase Three FDA trials of a cancer or neuroactive drug, which will probably take 15 years.
Dr. Desmond-Hellmann: If you have three great ideas and you do them sequentially, it's someone's entire career. It's just way too long.
An example of trying to challenge this is this I-Spy trial that's going on here in breast cancer. Laura Esserman is one of our breast cancer docs, and she is trying to challenge, to turn on its head, this notion that you have to go slowly through three phases of development.
She is putting six different test agents into one trial, and having a rapid turnaround, because she does surgery early in breast cancer, and uses this treatment before the surgery. She gets a quick answer on sequential therapies and a feedback loop based on the biology for one patient at a time.
Mr. Grove: Name another person who does that.
Dr. Desmond-Hellmann: You can't. The fact of the matter is you can't depend on Laura Esserman meeting Andy Grove. What I think the exciting thing about having a training program is to say, how do you take physician-scientists, engineer high-tech thinkers, and mix that together.
Source for excerpt, The Wall Street Journal; photo by Darcy Padilla for The Wall Street Journal. To read the complete interview, please follow this link.