Pioneering innovation in cardiovascular diseases

A Q&A with David Gordon, vice president, Cardiovascular and Fibrosis Discovery Biology

November 10, 2021     

Learn how Bristol Myers Squibb is advancing research in cardiovascular diseases from David Gordon, vice president, Cardiovascular and Fibrosis Discovery Biology.

Q: How do you see the future of cardiovascular drug discovery and development evolving?

David: With advancing science, we are really starting to understand the underlying drivers of cardiovascular disease. Once we understand the root causes, we can then design therapies to directly address them, one by one. Matching the therapy to the patient based on the cause of their particular version of the disease is commonly referred to as “precision medicine.” It’s a concept that is currently being applied to Oncology but is just now finding its way into Cardiology.

David Gordon, Ph.D., vice president, Cardiovascular and Fibrosis Discovery Biology

David Gordon, Ph.D., vice president, Cardiovascular and Fibrosis Discovery Biology

With a precision medicine approach in cardiovascular disease, we are trying to get away from the days when you needed 20,000 patients in a clinical trial in order to prove that a drug works. That many patients were required because we weren’t precisely matching the therapy to the cause and therefore, it didn’t work in a large percentage of the participants.  We therefore needed that many patients to find the population where it did work. 

At Bristol Myers Squibb, we are dedicated to understanding underlying disease causes so that we can better address them. For instance, some individuals with cardiovascular disease have an underlying genetic cause. By identifying these causes, we can address them directly, for instance with advanced medicine, like gene therapy, or through a targeted approach.

Q: What is the biggest unmet need in cardiovascular therapy?

David: There is a major unmet need in heart failure. 

Specifically, heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF). HFpEF can be very different from patient to patient which means that therapeutic selection should also be different. Once we can understand how to group patients into subpopulations, then we can figure out how to match up therapies to the patients rather than taking a “one-size-fits-all” approach that has failed many times in this population. 

We are applying many different technologies to try to accomplish this, such as using imaging and monitoring biomarkers. Eventually, our goal is to identify and validate predictive biomarkers that can match the patient to a therapy and determine how well they are going to respond.

Q: How has Bristol Myers Squibb continued to advance progress for cardiovascular patients in need?

David: For more than 60 years, Bristol Myers Squibb has been a trailblazer in the fight against cardiovascular disease, bringing new and transformative therapies forward for patients. As a leader in cardiovascular research, we have pioneered the science behind many game-changing targets and over the years have translated this science into life-saving medicines that have treated millions of people around the world. We are committed to continuing that innovation as the field moves in more purposeful directions to solve some of the hardest problems challenging researchers working in heart failure.

Q: How does Bristol Myers Squibb collaborate to advance research in cardiovascular disease?

David: Bristol Myers Squibb collaborates with a broad range of partners, including biotechnology companies, other pharmaceutical companies, academic centers and patient advocates to progress science. We bring together companies and individuals with different knowledge bases and capabilities so that we can advance science faster as we all work toward the common goal of improving care for patients. 

Q: What is it about your work that most motivates you?

David: I had an uncle whom I was very close to who suffered from heart failure. Watching him progress through the disease—his poor quality of life and the horrible impact of the disease on his caregivers, particularly my aunt—motivates me and has fueled my passion to help this community.

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About Bristol Myers Squibb

Bristol Myers Squibb is a global biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and deliver innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious diseases. As global citizens, we work sustainably and responsibly to create a positive impact in the communities where we live and work.