Earlier this year, HRW were once again able to extend the team and welcome Blaine Siegel, Field Project Coordinator, and Dylan Brown, Senior Research Manager, who in fact rejoined HRW following three years working in early life sciences strategy consulting.
Shortly after joining, they each demonstrated a real passion to join our award-winning Oncology Research Business Insights Team (OR:BIT), and we wanted to dig a little deeper to discover the root cause of why they wanted to join.
Check out what they each had to say…
After graduating from NYU in 2017 with a degree in neuroscience, I spent many years in early asset strategy consulting, with a focus on oncology and rare disease, as well as the interplay between biomarker testing and companion diagnostic commercialization. My decision to join OR:BIT has been motivated by a desire to apply these combined experiences – both academic, in the name of understanding behavior and decision making, as well as professional, to research where I feel I am able to drive the greatest impact.
As many are aware, cancer, as a set of diseases, clearly represents a significant burden to patients, families, caregivers, and to the healthcare system. The goal of my participation in OR:BIT as a project consultant is to bring my previous experience to better support clients and patients in facing the numerous difficulties that are unfortunately all too commonly experienced throughout their journey.
At the start of many solid-tumor cancer journeys, patients’ biopsies are often sent for biomarker testing to inform eligibility for specific therapies. Depending on the indication, this likely includes the usual immunotherapy suspects, as well as newer, targeted therapies such as KRAS inhibitors and PARP inhibitors.
While this relationship may seem straightforward on paper, research indicates both HCPs and patients often require additional communication, support, and awareness throughout this process. Special consideration is often needed when thinking about barriers involved in the testing process, including tissue insufficiency, difficulties with centralized or “send-out” models, reimbursement considerations, and PD-L1 assay selection, to name a few. As a result, one of my goals within OR:BIT is to provide guidance to our end clients on mitigating these issues, ideally allowing for a greater volume of patients and HCPs to benefit from the extended survival that novel targeted therapies can provide.
With this in mind, I am looking forward to making a difference to these stakeholders through my role in OR:BIT here at HRW.
Before joining the field team at HRW, I was a student at the University of Delaware where I majored in Biological Sciences. This major was certainly tailored for students going into the healthcare field which gave me access to some alternative classes that many students do not even know exist such as anatomy classes which included cadaver labs and molecular cancer biology where we learned what causes cancer and learned about the different treatments based on the cancer qualities. Based on experiences with friends and family suffering from various cancer types, I have always been drawn to learn more.
One of my favorite classes was a Cancer Biology course that I took my senior year, where we heard from speakers that most undergraduates do not have the privilege of hearing from – cancer patients sharing their personal experiences. Unfortunately, the journey for cancer patients can be quite challenging, so by hearing their experiences in interviews, we can gain a deeper understanding of how patients live day to day with their cancer. Through market research, hopefully we can shed light on how we can play a role in making the cancer journey as easy as possible for others.
Throughout my time at university, I enriched my oncology knowledge through various additional lectures and courses, with my main focus being cellular biology. I have always found learning about the various cancer types intriguing, such as that just one mutation in a cell, can cause a massive cascade of events that can lead to such a devastating impact on the human body.
Through Market Research and OR:BIT consultation, I am excited to learn more from HCPs who are at the frontline, to gain a greater understand on what treatments are prescribed and the reasonings behind this decision.
My hope, as a member of the field team in OR:BIT, is to help make the patient recruitment process as smooth and easy as possible. Additionally, I hope that I can lend my academic knowledge and expertise to oncology projects, bringing a different perspective to our Oncology team.
By Dylan Brown and Blaine Seigel