As BIO’s President and CEO, who proudly represented the Philadelphia suburbs in Congress for 12 years, I am delighted to welcome you to the city I love for the 2019 BIO International Convention – our industry’s largest annual gathering.
Philadelphia was the very first capital of the United States after the Revolutionary War, and landmarks here like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall mark some of America’s earliest colonial history. But now there is a new revolution being celebrated here a revolution in modern medicine.
Twenty years ago, gene therapy clinical trials began at University of Pennsylvania’s Children’s Hospital using AAV viral vectors to repair defective genes in patients born with genetic disease. However, an early patient death during experimental trials for gene therapy caused many global investors to abandon this transformative field of research. But like native son Rocky Balboa, Philadelphia never gave up on this life-or-death fight.
Because of the local biotech community’s persistence, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first- ever gene therapy for commercial use in the United States in 2017 to treat inherited retinal disease. Pioneered by Philly’s own Spark Therapeutics, this therapy prevents children from going blind.
Today, Philadelphia is one of the fastest-growing biotech hubs in the world and has earned the nickname “Cellicon Valley” – a reference to northern California’s high tech hub – for the city’s emergence as the global epicenter of gene therapy and cell therapy research.
During this week’s BIO 2019 program, we will highlight our industry’s progress in delivering next-generation therapeutics, and my keynote talk at Tuesday morning’s keynote will spotlight the need for better public policy and payment reform that broadens patient access to the miracle medicines of the future.
Our Convention theme this year is “It Starts with One.” We expect to break our own GUINNESS WORLD RECORDSTM by hosting 50,000 One-on- One PartneringTM meetings where you can find investors or partners to take your business to the next level. We hope you will avail yourself of this tool. Who knows? The next big breakthrough in the genomic medicine revolution could start with one meeting involving you.