would like, simply because there’s no gas in the tank. And Bridge
Medicines, by design, is extremely lean—at full capacity it will be
in the neighborhood of twenty employees—with a focused mission
on a finite period of the drug-development path.
what particular areas, types of drugs, or diseases will Bridge
Medicines focus on, if any?
It’s a broad vision, looking across therapeutic classes. Our only
requirement is that because the move from TDI to Bridge Medicines
is a change from a not-for-profit to a for-profit environment, we
have a responsibility not only to patients but to our shareholders
to develop products that ultimately return a profit.
In an era when drug costs are a major issue, can Bridge
Medicines help lower prices?
Definitely. This is a collective goal of both TDI and Bridge Medicines.
We are keenly focused on taking only the cream of the crop of
drug candidates, keeping our staffing small and controlled, and thus
managing overhead. Our goal is to move programs as rapidly as we
can and ultimately launch them into new companies or as assets into
existing companies. We intend to leverage our expertise to focus on
the experiments and scientific steps that are most critical to deciding whether something has a probability of making it all the way.
Could you summarize Bridge Medicines’ criteria for choosing
We have a strong team of scientific advisers who look at candidates
from a perspective of: Is it possible to manufacture it? Will it be very
expensive? Do the science and the clinical program look strong? And
do we have a strategy to address any gaps? Some of these consider-
ations will be purely economic; we have to balance investment versus
likelihood of success. The challenge and thrill at Bridge Medicines is
that sometimes we’re working in completely innovative spaces, where
we have the potential to develop a drug that may be a first-in-class
molecule for a target no one has approached before.
what particular strengths do the Tri-Institutions bring to this?
There’s a tremendous amount of intellectual capability at all three,
and I’m impressed by the spirit of collaboration among them.
Oftentimes one investigator will point to another at a neighboring
institution and say, “You should speak to him or her, since we’re
how might Bridge Medicines broaden new York City’s
biotech sector, to create the kind of thriving industry that
exists in Boston?
That is a key focus. Ultimately Bridge Medicines should be spinning
out companies over time, and we expect and hope they will help
develop a much more vibrant biotechnology and pharmaceutical hub here. Plus, I’m a diehard Yankees fan, so I love a bit of
competition with Boston.
You’re an MD trained in internal medicine. why did you choose
a career in pharmaceuticals?
I grew up loving math and science and seriously considered a career
in chemistry or biology; I pursued medicine because I loved the
patients. But I found it frustrating that you’d often get to a point
where you could manage symptoms, but patients weren’t making
much fundamental progress in terms of getting better. People ask
me if I miss clinical care, and on a certain level I do—but I also see
what I do as an aspect of patient care. If I can help someone discover
a new drug or treatment, then I’ve impacted the lives of far more
patients than I would ever have been able to see personally. n
— Beth Saulnier
‘Bridge Medicines is a revolution. It’s something that
has never existed before—a pre-fueled racecar,
if you will, ready to go with the inventions as they
come out of academia, and funded to do the work.’
DRUG DEVELOPMENT: Researchers at
work in the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics
Discovery Institute (Tri-I TDI)