Driving forward dermatology research: a Q&A with Mary Beth Harler

April 21, 2021

Mary Beth Harler, senior vice president and head of Immunology and Fibrosis Development in Bristol Myers Squibb’s Global Drug Development organization, discusses the company’s focus in dermatology research, how unmet needs drive the pipeline forward, and what motivates Bristol Myers Squibb to make a difference for patients.

Mary Beth Harler, senior vice president, head of Immunology and Fibrosis Development, Global Drug Development

Mary Beth Harler, senior vice president, head of Immunology and Fibrosis Development, Global Drug Development, Bristol Myers Squbb

Q: What is Bristol Myers Squibb’s approach to dermatology research?

Mary Beth: At Bristol Myers Squibb, we’re committed to discovering, developing and delivering innovative medicines that help patients prevail over serious illnesses, including a variety of diseases in dermatology. Our deep understanding of the science behind modulating the body’s immune response to treat disease – pioneered over 20 years ago – set in motion our pursuit of pathbreaking science for diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, as well as other serious dermatologic conditions that we are in the early stages of investigating.

Q: What unmet needs are driving Bristol Myers Squibb’s clinical research in dermatology?

Mary Beth: For the millions of people worldwide living with immune-mediated dermatologic diseases, their conditions are more than skin deep. Even with expanded treatment options available, many people still struggle with inadequate disease control, often going untreated or undertreated, and are in need of additional effective and well-tolerated therapies.

For example, while there may be a perception that psoriasis is only a skin disease, it is actually a chronic immune-mediated disease that is associated with multiple comorbidities including psoriatic arthritis, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease and others. For psoriasis specifically, the pain, itching, bleeding and skin tightness can take both a physical and emotional toll that makes everyday life more challenging.

Though we’ve made significant strides in research, important work still remains to understand the cause of the various immune-mediated diseases that we are studying, and this understanding will help us determine if select therapies are impacting the pathogenesis of the disease. Every clinical trial is an opportunity to improve our understanding of these diseases and closely assess the data to discover insights that move the field forward.

Q: Why are you excited about Bristol Myers Squibb’s dermatology pipeline and future research?

Mary Beth: Our singular vision – transforming patients’ lives through science – inspires us each day to further our understanding of immune-mediated diseases. Grounded by pathbreaking science, we are currently exploring the potential of selective inhibition of tyrosine kinase 2, or TYK2, and recently shared encouraging topline results for two Phase 3 trials.

We are also excited about our emerging dermatology pipeline, where we are studying pathways and exploring mechanisms that may one day have the potential to improve outcomes for the dermatology community.

Q: What are Bristol Myers Squibb’s long-term goals in immunology and dermatology?

Mary Beth: In immunology, our team is driven to unravel the complexities of the immune system by discovering and delivering medicines that help free patients from the burdens of immune-mediated diseases. Our goals are to redefine treatment expectations and elevate standards of care through first-of-their-kind and meaningful advancements, such as trailblazing new therapies and offering precision medicine for patients with certain disease biomarkers.

Building on this approach, our teams contribute to the understanding of each disease we are studying by uncovering novel mechanisms and biomarkers, developing differentiated modes of administration and analyzing real-world data to gain deeper insights into how diseases impact the broader patient community. We commit to scientific excellence and investment in R&D to offer innovative, high-quality medicines that address unmet medical needs and change lives for the better.

Our commitment goes beyond providing new treatments – we are pursuing transformational science to reimagine treatment options for immune-mediated diseases and ultimately, make a more hopeful future for patients a reality. We’ve made significant progress this past year and look forward to the exciting milestones ahead.