FasterCures: Innovating and accelerating biomedical R&D for 14 years

FasterCures logos over the yearsThe Center for Accelerating Medical Solutions, now known as FasterCures, was founded in 2003 as a center of the Milken Institute. Building on Mike Milken’s efforts in medical innovation for prostate cancer, the Milken Institute saw that many of the challenges in biomedical R&D spanned diseases. We needed system-level thinking and action to move innovations from molecule to marketplace, faster.

As we first worked to define our niche within the biomedical space, we established ourselves at the 2004 Lake Tahoe retreat as a powerful convener. It was the first time many of the disease-specific organizations had come together. From this meeting, The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN) was established, seeking to bring venture philanthropies together to share best practices and insights across diseases.

In our early years, with just a handful of staff, our start-up think tank worked to foster dialogue and have an outsized impact on the system. Through our convenings, we identified areas of need within the biomedical R&D system. We put forth forward-thinking, action-oriented publications to drive progress on clinical trials, data sharing, and the use of electronic health records (part 1, part 2).

Our work falls into three program areas: R&D Policy, Patients Count: The Science of Patient Input, and Collaboration 2.0.

R&D Policy: Developing health policy solutions to ensure that there are both sufficient resources and a supportive environment for biomedical innovation

2007: Organized a Task Force under the leadership of David Baltimore to examine how to strengthen the mission and impact of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Intramural Research Program.

2009: Served as founding member of the Alliance for a Stronger FDA.

2010: Hosted first Capitol Hill briefing (on Science and Progress at the Food and Drug Administration) to share knowledge with congressional stakeholders.

2011: Supported the creation of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the NIH.

2012: Promoted the need for continued resources for NIH and FDA during sequestration efforts.

2014: Shared remarks before the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee’s inaugural 21st Century Cures roundtable (FasterCures continued active support for the legislation until final passage in December 2016).

2016: Brought attention to FDA workforce issues by analyzing challenges and suggesting opportunities for action.

2016: Engaged over 150 thought leaders on how the 45th Presidential administration could advance biomedical innovation and shared 26 actionable recommendations through the Rx for Innovation report.

2017: Launched 21st Century Cures Tracker to monitor the implementation of the landmark legislation.

Patients Count: Improving health by driving adoption of methods by which patients’ perspectives shape processes for discovering, developing, and delivering medical products and services

2005: Began work on patient engagement through the Patients Helping Doctors (PHD) initiative, which conducted thorough analyses of existing practices, programs, and policies, and offered solutions necessary to engage patients and incentivize participation.

2013: Explored how patient perspectives inform the topic of value through the new Value & Coverage initiative.

2014: Established the Benefit-Risk Assessment initiative, including a boot camp for stakeholders looking to incorporate patients into their decision-making. Efforts built upon opportunities for patient perspectives to influence regulatory decision-making created by the Patient-Focused Drug Development program (as part of PDUFA V) at FDA.

2015: Drove thought leadership with seminal Science Translational Medicine article on the expanded role of patients and consolidated our efforts to foster inclusion of patient perspectives under the Patients Count program.

2016: Launched a Patients Count Leadership Council of key opinion leaders to foster patient-centered practice and policy. With Avalere and a multi-stakeholder steering committee, started the process to draft a Patient Perspective Value Framework to assess the value of medical products through a patient lens. Published Science Translational Medicine cover story on the path to a science of patient input.

2017: Secured first Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute award to apply user-centered design to empower individuals to leverage their own health data for research and improved personal wellness.

Collaboration 2.0: Championing efficient and effective collaborations in biomedical R&D that bring together diverse partners with a shared goal

2005: Founded The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN), a group of innovative venture philanthropies focused on finding and funding novel science.

2007: Established the Philanthropy Advisory Service, an initiative designed to help donors build a high-impact medical philanthropy portfolio (This work was expanded to become the Center for Strategic Philanthropy in 2015).

2008: Published analysis on the major challenges of venture philanthropies in our report Entrepreneurs for Cures: The Critical Need for Innovative Approaches to Disease Research.

2009: Hosted first Partnering for Cures to connect hundreds of decision-makers from across diseases and sectors.

2012: Supported the Milken Institute convening of A Celebration of Science.

2013: Launched the Consortia-pedia project to assess the approaches that a wide range of consortia have adopted to bring together non-traditional partners with a shared R&D goal.

2014: Published commentary in Science Translational Medicine on the benefits and challenges of the research-by-consortia model.

2014: Convened 60 stakeholders representing academic research institutions, nonprofit disease foundations, industry, investors, and the legal community in Boston to address university-foundation partnerships. FasterCures continues this work on University-Foundation Relations.

2015: Debuted the Consortia-pedia Catalogue to share profiles of more than 400 research collaborations.

graphic depicting how FasterCures' programs developed