As vice president and development strategy lead at UCB, Victor Sloan has worked in the field of rheumatology since the early 1990’s. Throughout his career, he has played an active role in the remarkable progress that has been made in treatment for rheumatic diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis. On a typical day, Sloan designs the framework for clinical trials to determine whether treatments are safe and effective for possible use in patients after U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval.
The Driving Force
Sloan’s experience in rheumatology is personal. His late sister-in-law suffered from lupus for 30 years, her entire adult life. Speaking of her outlook on life, Sloan remembers, “Her perspective was always, ‘Look, I don’t expect you to know everything there is to know about lupus, but I do expect that you will treat me with dignity and respect.’”
Watching a close relative live with a painful and chronic disease fueled his dedication to a career in rheumatology. “We’ve made a lot of progress. I’ve lived through the pre-biologic era and the biologic era, and I’ve seen what that can bring to patients, but I’ve also seen that we have a long way to go. We’ve made tremendous progress, but there are 110 kinds of arthritis. Probably 105 of them still have no real evidence-based therapies,” says Sloan. This potential is constantly at the forefront of his mind, and he knows that the opportunities for advancement in patient care are beyond the immediate horizon.
Challenges, Chances and Looking Forward
In addition to his work at UCB, Sloan has a faculty appointment at Rutgers University, where he volunteers in a general rheumatology clinic. “I think when we develop solutions, we’re trying to develop holistic solutions that help [patients] deal with all those other problems,” says Sloan.
Thinking of the most challenging elements of chronic diseases, he says, “These diseases are incredibly complex. They’re polygenic, they have multiple different factors that go into deciding why one person gets this disease and why one person doesn’t, and why one person responds well to a given treatment and another does not. There’s not a simple solution that’s going to be right for everybody, and that’s the blessing and the curse of where we are today.”
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