Q&A with Martha Brumfield, President and CEO, Critical Path Institute (C-Path)
Q: How would you describe the purpose and goals of C-Path to your mom?
A: The Critical Path Institute is an independent public-private partnership that works to expedite the development of drugs and other medical products by creating new approaches to medical innovation and regulatory science. Our work makes a lasting difference in future treatment options for physicians and patients across the globe.
We advance the pioneering work of medical and pharmaceutical scientists by linking innovation to a regulatory agency endorsed outcome which, in turn, reduces time and cost for those who develop medicines.
We lead teams that share data, knowledge and expertise resulting in sound science. C-Path creates forums, builds research plans and pathways to share research from scientists in industry and academia and regulatory agencies such as the FDA and EMA. We bring together people who have dedicated their careers to understanding disease and treatment. Our commitment to transparency combined with our technical expertise and operational excellence can help reduce the high-rate of failure in developing and testing new medical products.
Since its inception in 2005, the Critical Path Institute has established programs in the therapeutic areas of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, polycystic kidney disease, tuberculosis, rheumatoid arthritis, non-small cell lung cancer, multiple sclerosis, and others. C-Path also has programs to improve patient safety and reduce toxicity across all therapeutic categories.
Q: Involvement in consortia goes beyond the scope of a regular day-job. What keeps you motivated to stay at it?
A: Having spent my professional career dealing with the regulatory requirements to assure medicines are safe, effective and of high quality, I have a deep appreciation for the concerns of regulators who are charged with protecting public health. I also appreciate the concerns of scientists who are continually working to balance the utility of newer methods with the need to acquire the more tried and true types of data to fully demonstrate safety, efficacy and quality. This is a healthy tension that results in wonderful new medicines; however, the flip side is that the process is too lengthy and costly. We need to keep front and center that the patient is waiting and do everything we can at C-Path to foster bridging innovation to greater certainty in the regulatory process. Being that bridge keeps me motivated.
Q: What has surprised you the most about all of the consortia under C-Path’s umbrella? What weren’t you expecting?
A: I am continually impressed by the dedication of the people who work on the consortia projects whether they are scientists from industry, academia, regulatory agencies or the representatives of patient groups. These folks participate because of their commitment to finding new solutions to advance science. I am impressed at the ways they have worked across therapeutic areas and have identified opportunities to learn and best practices to make the consortia work better.
I am also thrilled to work with the dedicated and hard working staff at C-Path, many of whom left higher paying job opportunities to work in the non-profit space because they so strongly believe in the C-Path mission and in what we can accomplish. Many of the staff have family members who have suffered from some of the very diseases on which our consortia focus. That is a pretty powerful formula for success.
Q: If you could trade places with anyone in the world for one week, who would it be?
A: That is a difficult choice. I’d say Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization. I regularly read about disease trends and know that around the world there are populations facing challenging diseases that impact every aspect of their lives. We often get mired in the day to day goals toward completing our program objectives, but sometimes lose sight of the positive impact our work can have on the lives of people everywhere. I would imagine that Dr. Chan thinks every day about opportunities to bring better health to lives everywhere. She sees that global picture, its changing patterns, and what is on the horizon in a way that very few do. What greater motivation can there be to keep doing the important work that we are tasked with
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