Watch: New video series spotlights advances in biopharmaceutical science

At the heart of the innovation ecosystem are hundreds of thousands of biopharmaceutical researchers who get up each and every day to fight and cure diseases.

Headshot of Dr. Michael Ybarra
Michael Ybarra, MDAugust 24, 2023
Scientists in lab coats with masks on working in lab looking at vial.

Watch: New video series spotlights advances in biopharmaceutical science.

Researching and developing innovative medicines for patients is a long and complex journey with often more setbacks than successes. At the heart of the innovation ecosystem are hundreds of thousands of biopharmaceutical researchers who get up each and every day to fight and cure diseases.

A new mini-documentary series spotlighting biopharmaceutical researchers nationwide provides a glimpse into the lives of the people driving biopharmaceutical innovation. These individuals have worked tirelessly to develop new therapies for challenging diseases like lung cancer, sickle cell anemia and epilepsy.


The first destination was Pfizer’s laboratory, where Dr. Seng Cheng, former chief scientific officer of the rare disease research unit, discusses the company’s efforts to combat sickle cell disease (SCD). This inherited blood disorder disproportionately impacts Black patients and causes crescent-shaped blood cells to clog blood vessels, preventing the normal flow of oxygen throughout the body. SCD can lead to serious complications, including pain crisis and acute chest syndrome.  

Pfizer is one of many leading biopharmaceutical research companies striving to bring hope to patients, working to build upon a U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved medicine and pipeline of potential SCD therapies aimed at understanding and combating the formation of sickle cells. Mariah Scott, a patient with sickle cell disease, notes that “there was a time that sickle cell disease was almost like a death sentence…I now see a big future for the sickle cell community.”


The next stop was Amgen’s laboratory with Dr. Brian Lanman, director of research in the medicinal chemistry department. His team has made significant strides in treating non-small cell lung cancer, which accounts for about 85% of lung cancer cases in the United States.

Through years of rigorous research, Dr. Lanman's team has made notable progress in developing therapeutics against what were previously thought to be undruggable targets, including the development of a molecule designed to target a specific mutation. Amgen’s efforts offer a beacon of hope for patients and illuminate the value of the relentless pursuit of innovative treatments.


Finally, at UCB, Dr. Onur Kas, head of gene therapy vector core, and Dr. Wang Yuan, head of research analytics, are exploring innovative genomic instability therapy treatments to solve muscular and neurodegenerative diseases like Huntington’s disease, which results from alterations in DNA.

Dr. Kas and Dr. Wang harness gene therapy and data science to deliver genomic information into patients' cells and correct genomic coding errors by replacing the defective gene. Importantly, this research has the potential to be applied to a plethora of other conditions in the future, giving patients the ability to live their lives normally.

Ultimately, these stories paint a vivid picture of the people behind each new medicine—their tenacity, intelligence and dedication to driving the next breakthroughs. As an emergency physician who has taken care of patient’s impacted by sickle cell disease, non-small cell lung cancer and neurodegenerative diseases, I am inspired by these professionals who are not just creating new treatments, they're working to ease the pain and suffering of patient’s impacted by these serious illnesses and create a healthier, brighter world for us all.

Learn more about the people and the passion fueling tomorrow's life-saving medicines. 

This website uses cookies and other tracking technologies to optimize performance, preferences, usage, and statistics. By clicking “Accept All”, you consent to store on your device the cookies and other tracking technologies that require consent. You can tailor or change your preferences by clicking “Manage My Cookies”. You can check our privacy policy for more information.