As vice president of oncology early asset development at Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), Dr. Tim Reilly leads a team of researchers who are pursuing the next generation of medicines to fight cancer. With more than 15 years of pharmaceutical research experience, Reilly manages the overall vision and operational plans at BMS, while guiding the research process from late stage discovery through phase one and phase two clinical trials.
The Driving Force
Reilly, who lost both grandmothers to cancer, says this disease touches the lives of every person in one way or another. “Everyone’s got a friend, a neighbor, a family member affected by cancer. We all have stories like these every day and they’re all different; they’re all different cancers.”
Reilly says the research process is about really understanding the biology of the disease. “As a patient’s disease changes, we want to be there with them, with new therapy interventions with the potential to alter the course of their disease,” he says.
Challenges, Chances and Looking Forward
“The biggest misconception is that cancer research is easy, and it’s not,” Reilly says. “It’s iterative. It requires a lot of trial and error. As researchers, we’re trying to help a patient through their lifelong journey with the disease. That may require different lines of therapy or that a patient has multiple treatments at the same time.”
Despite years of setbacks, sometimes a treatment works. It’s these individual patient success stories that motivate Reilly to come back to work each day.
“You get that one patient with encouraging results. And that tells you something about the patient’s biology, but it also tells you something about how we apply the learning from that one patient to the many, many future ones down the road so that we can get to the point of finding the right treatments for the right patient at the right time.”
As a patient’s disease changes, we want to be there with them, with new therapy interventions with the potential to alter the course of their disease.
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