Highlights of the Global Leaders Series with Dr. James Sabry

Highlights of the Global Leaders Series with Dr. James Sabry

Last October 14th, adMare hosted Dr. James Sabry, Global Head of Roche Pharma Partnering, who shared with us his vision of the future of medicine and the importance of partnerships.

The future of medicine is exciting, and challenging

“The upcoming challenges are biological, medical, and to some extent, social and societal. But if we keep our eyes on the patients as the end goal, and if we partner, then we believe that we can get these challenges accomplished. We cannot do it alone.”


Science without borders

For Dr. Sabry, 20 years ago, pharmaceutical companies could be compared to a castle with a drawbridge that opens occasionally to let a product enter to be developed and then be placed on the top of the castle. “Those days are gone. Now we have a glass-windowed research building, and [the] windows are open.” Partnerships between biotech and pharma are essential: “We would like science to be without borders because science is so complex, and we don’t have all the answers. Together, we maximize our chances. The nature of these partnerships is changing rapidly.”









“There is no Pharma Without Dia”

Dr. Sabry demonstrated that many drugs have limited efficacy, but their power drastically improves when used together with diagnostics (Dia). “A solution that will include the diagnostic test and the drug together, this is where the future is going.”

Cancer treatments are more effective when given promptly. Therefore, early diagnosis is necessary for early treatment. “What if we could do medicine differently? What if we could do early diagnosis and move all the therapies to the pre-symptomatic stage and eliminate the disease-causing cell or genes? This is the future of medicine.” 










Partnering is the key to bring medicine to the patients

Most of drugs marketed by Roche come from other companies, and many of them emerge from small companies. “Small companies have great advantages over large companies: they have the focus, the energy, and the nimbleness of communication that we can never have in a large company. We have something they don’t have: billions of dollars of R&D, a diagnostic group, large groups related to machine learning and system biology, and a manufacturing infrastructure that can rapidly move their medicine to the patients”.

“We become a partner with them in order to accelerate and increase the probability that the medicine goes into the market.”

Biotech companies are generating the science behind the medicine. “If you believe these data, then partnering is the only way forward for us and for the whole industry. We are a ready-made home for the soil-finding activities of small companies. That is the role of pharma these days”.


Discussion panel

Key industry leaders continued the discussion on the strengths of the Canadian Ecosystem, during a panel moderated by Gordon McCauley, President & CEO of adMAre.

Didier Leconte, Vice President Investments, Life Sciences & Technology, Investissement Québec

“Our strategy as institutional investors is really to help create more [organizations like] Repare, it’s really about it. The quality of the science will attract partnerships, and we have to make sure that there are enough companies coming out of the institutions. We can help develop and produce collaborations with large companies like Roche.”

“We need to collaborate, work together, and change a paradigm that we often see here regarding financing: don’t raise money because you see that you can raise that money, but try to raise money that you need to really accomplish your goal. Thinking bigger and bolder. And with the help of entrepreneurs like Lloyd, we can actually achieve that.”

Laurence Rulleau, adMare Board member and Managing Partner, CTI Life Sciences

“We (CTI Life Sciences) invest early, we like to build companies, and we do that by spinning off companies from academia, from licensing molecules from pharma or even biotech companies. I think that the shortcoming in the Canadian ecosystem is still the critical mass to grow our ecosystem. Partnership is key to then validate and bring more money when needed. For us, it’s at a later point in the investment.”


Lloyd Segal, CEO, Repare Therapeutics

“adMare help build the ecosystem because one of the key points in an ecosystem is having a kind of incubator in the ecosystem.”

“All of the elements finally come together in Quebec, and this is why pharma teams now stop here to see our companies. They make time in their schedule because there are things here they want to see, and that, to me, is the sign that we are doing something right. We are still adolescent, we still have a long way to go, but I think it’s all coming together.”

Dr. Sabry, Global Head, Roche Pharma Partnering

There are 4 critical components that need to co-exist to establish a strong ecosystem:

- Great academic institutions, because science made there will become the next medicines.

- Access to capital.

- A willing infrastructure for immigration and for people to move into those companies.

- Other elements in the infrastructure, such as real estate and banks willing to take risks.


Concluding remarks

François Drolet, Executive Director - Access, Policy and Government Relations Roche Diagnostics Canada, concluded the event with thoughtful remarks.  

“While gaps still exist, I think Canada has all the right ingredients at this point in time to continue being successful on a global scale and even take the sector to another level. With strong federal, provincial, and regional government focused on life science, as well as organizations like adMare and visionary venture capitals, there is definitely no shortage of support and talent here in Canada.”

“Canada has a strong record of medical innovation, offers a fertile environment for everything related to clinical trials, coupled with quite a unique population diversity. We also have a very strong network of academic and research institutions and world-class expertise in, for example, genomic and artificial intelligence.”

“We seem to have been skating, not where the puck was, but where the puck was going to be and we continue to do so.”


To watch the entire event, visit the adMare Community by clicking here