Genentech Partnering - Bringing the best science into Genentech




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Video title: Genentech Partnering - Bringing the best science into Genentech
Released on: May 04, 2012. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, filmed in Amsterdam at BioEurope Spring 2012, Fintan walton talks to Tom Zioncheck, Senior Director of Business Development at Genentech Partnering
Tom Zioncheck's role and responsibilities as Senior Director of BD
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review. On this show I have Tom Zioncheck, who is Senior Director at Genentech, Genentech Partnering, welcome.
Tom Zioncheck:
Thank you Fintan, it's great to be here in Amsterdam.
Fintan Walton:
Good. Tom, your company Genentech is you know one of the oldest biotechnology companies?
Tom Zioncheck:
The first actually.
Fintan Walton:
Indeed the first company and but you've had also worked in the company for 23-years you just told me, so tell me a little bit about your own journey within Genentech?
Tom Zioncheck:
It's been a fantastic journey. I started there as a Postdoctoral Fellow in research and after two to three-years working at the company I said I am gonna do whatever it takes to finish out my career here and sure enough I was hired full time. I joined as a preclinical development scientist, where my role was really filing IND's and working out dosing schedules for first in man studies and that was absolutely you know great training for really understanding drug development. From there I went on to be a project team leader and had responsibility for leading a lot of cross functional teams leading multiple projects in development and again just a fantastic education about drug development and outside the preclinical development but all the other components whether it be regulatory, manufacturing or commercial aspects really bringing that all in and then the last seven years I've spent in Genentech's Business Development Group which is now part of Genentech Partnering and currently I oversee in-licensing transactions for neuroscience, ophthalmology and Metabolic disease .
Tom Zioncheck's perspective: Acquisition of Genentech by Roche
Fintan Walton:
Right, and obviously with that scientific background and the clinical development backgrounds have really important for your career and also seeing what's out there in terms of good opportunities?
Tom Zioncheck:
That's right.
Fintan Walton:
So what over those last seven-years there is a big change that's taken place obviously because of the Roche ultimate acquisition of Genentech?
Tom Zioncheck:
That's right.
Fintan Walton:
What it that bring from your perspective been a you know original Genentech guy?
Tom Zioncheck:
Right.
Fintan Walton:
What is that experience like?
Tom Zioncheck:
We've had a long standing history working with Roche I think that's important to mention. The first interactions went back way back to the early 90's when Roche actually bought a controlling stake in Genentech, but left us largely independent, it was until the last three-years where this relationship has really been formalized when Roche acquired Genentech [PharmaDeals ID = 30853] it's almost exactly three years ago in March and it's been a very successful merger and I think the reason for that is in so many ways we complement each other, you know Genentech being the first biotech company very focused in targeted therapies and protein therapeutics and Roche being a more of a conventional pharmaceutical company with global reach, we brought these two companies two great companies together, we had a very strong early development pipeline, they had a very strong late development pipeline and we were able to realize lot of synergies there may be most importantly was the fact that Roche brought a huge diagnostic capability to the table where you know Genentech has really focused on targeted therapies and was really the first to come up with the personalized healthcare thesis in Herceptin then Roche now coming to the table with this very strong diagnostic capability has been a fantastic synergy and now basically all of our programs that we have in early development, in the development now we are have has a biomarker hypothesis and we are trying very hard to actually develop a companion diagnostic to go along with the therapeutic.
Genentech's focus and partnering in Neuroscience
Fintan Walton:
Okay, so let's just look at the area that you actually operate within, you've mentioned that the various areas including neuroscience, ophthalmic therapy as well as Metabolic diseases , so what is it like at the moment to try and find opportunities out there as a guy who is involved in partnering?
Tom Zioncheck:
Yes, you know my job is I think about it is to go out discover the world and bring the best science that we can find back into Genentech and we have a great pipeline, but you know not everything that we had within Genentech is discovered at Genentech. We are finding out looking and finding great science about half of our pipeline comes in through external collaborations and partnering. And neuroscience, I mean Genentech is known as an oncology company but neuroscience is one of the fastest growing areas within Genentech's research organization and we are primarily focused in neurodegenerative diseases and our through partnering really forged an alliance with a company called AC Immune in Switzerland [PharmaDeals ID = 25985] and that was a preclinical program at that time of partnering and now we are very happy to say that's in Phase II right now, it's an Anti-Abeta antibody targeting for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and so that was a really important movement for us in partnering, because we were centrally seeding our efforts in a new area of neuroscience at that time, more recently we've just done a deal with a company called Xenon, this is a Canadian company based in Vancouver in the pain space [PharmaDeals ID = 44817] and so now we are actually growing neuroscience moving out of just neurodegeneration and moving into pain and this was a very attractive opportunity for us in this particular case because the target had been so well validated by human genetics and so that's what we are really focusing on good science, highly validated targets that we think we can work very good with our partner.
Fintan Walton:
Right. It's a classic representation of what you guys are doing these days I suppose?
Tom Zioncheck:
That's right.
Fintan Walton:
Yes, there is a good scientific basis to the disease area that you are operating within?
Tom Zioncheck:
That's right. I think that's also a very good point that differentiates Genentech very often and it's so science focused and making sure that we really understand mechanism of action of every target that we go after, we find that it's essential to really understand the biology around every target and pathway that we are pursuing. It's a risky business and if we don't really understand the underlying science then it's all the more risky.
Deal with Forma
Fintan Walton:
Sure, we talk about innovative science but also doing the deals we have to be pretty innovative as well even be creative?
Tom Zioncheck:
That's right.
Fintan Walton:
You got to get these deals across the line and in the end, so recently you've done a deal with Constellation [PharmaDeals ID = 44946] and Forma [PharmaDeals ID = 41557] can you just give us some idea of those sort of deals you are doing right now?
Tom Zioncheck:
Sure, so we like to say that we are trying to be as innovative in our deal making as we are with our science and the Forma deal [PharmaDeals ID = 41557] that you've mentioned was a deal that we did last June, just almost a year ago now but it's gotten a lot of press and discussion within the partnering groups because of the creative nature of that one and essentially what drives that in that deal structure was the strain capital markets, investors are looking for an earlier return on their investment and so when we talked to Forma we listened to their needs and we realized that we could come up with a deal structure that was really a hybrid from you know between a typical alliance and an M&A and an acquisition and what we did is we structured the deal such that there would be an upfront and some research funding and then a pre-negotiated option to acquire the asset at if it is was to research a certain milestone in the future. And so this was a value to Forma, because it gave them money to further their own efforts and work on their other assets while Genentech was partnering with them and it gave them some certainty and a chance for an earlier return for their investors on the back end.
Deal with Constellation
Fintan Walton:
Okay, very good and then the Constellation deal [PharmaDeals ID = 44946] is something along the similar lines, but just slightly different?
Tom Zioncheck:
Right. It's similar, so Constellation was a deal on the oncology space this was really a transformative deal for us and that it was a deal in the epigenetics area and we had just made some effort at Genentech in epigenetics and so we reached out to try and find the world's best people working in this area and the deal that we struck with them was essentially a broader strategic deal which allowed for an upfront and a research collaboration, but in that case there was an option to acquire the company at a pre-negotiated price in the future. So again the value of that for Constellation in that case is it gave the investors some non-dilutive funding early on and then the opportunity to actually have some certainty of that getting returned in the future if milestones were met and so I think that kind of creativity about listening to your partner and working with your partner to meet each other's needs is absolutely critical in these capital markets and in financially strained economy.
Tom Zioncheck's views: Shape of future deal environment and Genentech's relationship with academia
Fintan Walton:
Right, and then just in terms of the future then I mean this is these things are changing and you know getting access to that great science is more difficult now I would argue, so doing deals with at earlier stages is becoming more common and even going into at the university level and not-for-profit level. So from your if you look into the future what sort of shape do you see our industry taking particularly in terms of the types of biotech companies that are out there and the types of environment in which we have to operate?
Tom Zioncheck:
I think you are right the deals are being made earlier and we see this as a really our sweet spot at Genentech. We are doing a lot of preclinical deals and we feel that one of the things that differentiate us is that our partnering group is really an extension of research in many ways. We go out and source new opportunities in close collaboration with our scientists, so what we're seeking is opportunities from discovery through clinical proof of concept so the fact that the industry is moving towards doing earlier deals is really in our sweet spot and so that's point one. We are looking as you say not only in small biotech companies for partners but also in academia. We have great respect for the science that's going on in academia many of the people that are working at Genentech had previous academic roles. We have a very close relationship with academia through our postdoc program. We have a world-class postdoc program and so there is a great exchange between Genentech and academia. We have done deals in the past and in fact we have one in the works right now as we speak that may be the next time we get together we'd be able to talk about.
Fintan Walton:
Right, so in effect Genentech is colorful circle because it's came out of, you came out of academic research in the end?
Tom Zioncheck:
That's right.
Fintan Walton:
Firstly when the company was founded it came from academic science?
Tom Zioncheck:
Yes, a great founding Herb Boyer of course and Bob Swanson in that classic meeting were Herb Boyer was just publishing some papers about cloning human genes and to bacterial hose and getting expression over common in human proteins. Bob Swanson being the venture capitalist was quick to see the potential commercial value of all of that and in 1976 they've got together and formed Genentech.
Fintan Walton:
Alright, two visionaries getting together great.
Tom Zioncheck:
Yes.
Fintan Walton:
Tom, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Tom Zioncheck:
Thank you Fintan, it's been a pleasure.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Tom Zioncheck
Senior Director
At the time of recording this PTV interview Tom Zioncheck serves as Senior Director in the Business Development Group at Genentech. His team is responsible for in-licensing new therapeutics, technology, and intellectual property in the areas of Ophthalmology, Neuroscience, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease. Dr. Zioncheck joined Genentech as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 1988. He was subsequently hired as a Genentech Scientist in 1991. He was then promoted into various roles with increasing responsibility including Sr. Scientist, Development Sciences Director, and Project Team Leader. During the course of his career he has made numerous drug development contributions, co-authored over 30 scientific papers, has been awarded six patents, and received 18 recognition awards for various corporate accomplishments. In 2001, he was elected Chair for the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Biotech Section and he served as co-chair for the first National AAPS Biotechnology meeting. In 2002, he was appointed as Adjunct Professor in the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, University of the Pacific, in Stockton CA. Dr. Thomas F. Zioncheck earned his BS degree in Chemistry from the State University of New York at Oneonta and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Purdue University.
PharmaVentures
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
Genentech
Genentech Inc., a portmanteau of Genetic Engineering Technology Inc, is a biotechnology corporation, which was founded in 1976 by venture capitalist Robert A. Swanson and biochemist Dr. Herbert Boyer. Considered the founder of the biotechnology industry, Genentech has been delivering on the promise of biotechnology for more than 30 years, using human genetic information to discover, develop, manufacture and commercialize medicines to treat patients with serious or life-threatening medical conditions. Today, Genentech is among the world's leading biotech companies, with multiple products on the market for serious or life-threatening medical conditions, more than 100 projects in the pipeline and a long term plan for growth. In March 2009, Genentech became a wholly owned member of the Roche Group. As part of their merger agreement, Roche and Genentech combined their pharmaceutical operations in the United States. Genentech's South San Francisco campus now serves as the headquarters for Roche pharmaceutical operations in the United States. Genentech Research and Early Development operate as an independent center within Roche.