Rupert Vessey, Executive Vice President and President of Research and Early Development

Faster, higher, stronger

September 18, 2022
By Rupert Vessey, Executive Vice President and President of Research and Early Development

At Bristol Myers Squibb, Global Patient Week stands as a pinnacle of our year-round vision to transform patients’ lives through science, bringing together our more than 32,000 employees around the world to celebrate the individuals we work each day to serve. This year, in collaboration with the patient advocacy groups we partner with, we asked a few of our Leadership Team members to share their perspectives on how the work their teams are leading impacts lives around the world.

All year round, our scientists pursue the nebulous goal of discovery. Every now and then, thanks to their expertise and persistence, they achieve a eureka moment. Suddenly, triumphantly, our researchers understand something no one has ever understood before.  

It's my privilege to lead Research and Early Development at Bristol Myers Squibb. In this role, I oversee programs and technologies that drive our organization across all therapeutic categories, from the “aha” of discovery through the rigors of proof-of-concept. The best part of my job is getting to work with some of the brightest innovators in our industry — each of whom is committed to bringing medicines to patients with unmet medical needs.

Nothing is more important to any of us. And when it comes to bringing our A-game every day, nothing motivates us more than knowing that the research carried out in our labs can improve patient health and lead to a higher quality of life and even extended longevity. As scientists, it doesn’t get any better than knowing our roles have the potential to transform lives.

But that takes some doing. At the outset, the discovery of drugs calls for applying scientific disciplines such as biology, chemistry and pharmacology. My ongoing challenge in leading research and early development is to make sure that our researchers have the right resources — and, equally valuable, the creative freedom and support — to keep our pipeline thriving.

Working together for patients

Building a strong pipeline and winning for patients is a team sport, every time. I’m often reminded of the Olympic motto, Citius, Altius, Fortius, which translates to ‘faster, higher, stronger.’ Our aspiration for ourselves and our patients is no different.

To be successful, we must focus on discovering, developing and delivering medicines to patients faster. It is not enough to be innovative; we must also embrace new ways to accelerate the overall R&D process.

Our sense of urgency drives us to be persistent in the face of scientific challenges and complexity and to seek new approaches to innovation.

Applying computer science. Introducing advanced solutions to our clinical trials. Building, testing and deploying robust digital platforms that can achieve scale as sustainably as possible. New datasets that amplify our predictive power through all stages of our pipeline.

The combined power of these tools helps us deliver for patients.

The next big leap

Our pipeline is now more promising and diverse than ever. It’s currently flowing with more than 50 compounds in development across 40 disease classes. It’s no coincidence, either, that our efforts to incorporate diverse perspectives into the discovery of new medicines has made a big difference here.

We’ve brought together leading researchers in the pharmaceutical industry hailing from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures, all of whom are passionate about science and profoundly compassionate toward patients. We’ve also educated, inspired and hired a new generation of physicians and scientists from historically underrepresented communities to narrow the dangerous gaps in care facing those underserved populations. Only when our scientific workforce reflects the patient populations we serve, after all, can we truly unleash our potential to achieve the company’s mission.

I’m proud of these accomplishments. But of course, our work is never done.

At the moment, we’re moving toward our next big milestone for patients: identifying new biomarkers that can help predict how patients respond to our medicines and better target which patients should take those medicines. Every small step we take is an opportunity to make the next big leap.