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Panel Discussion with Amgen: The Future of Drug Discovery

Following on from the highly successful BCLA summit, the team dove straight into another huge event, this time at Amgen in collaboration with AWIS, HBA and Amgen WE2. A diverse mix of high profile individuals from Amgen, including Raymond Deshaies, Sr VP of Global Research, Rohini Deshpande, VP of Drug Substance Technology, Patrick Dey, VP Digital Health and Innovation, and Corinne M. Le Goff, Sr VP, General Manager of US General Medicine, took to the stage to delve into ‘The future of drug development’. The discussion was moderated by Carolina Amador, chair of BCLA advisory board and Sr Associate of Competitive Intelligence at Amgen.

The evening began with networking over refreshments. After a brief introduction from Erin Denny from AWIS, Carolina opened the occasion with a question to keep the mood light. ‘What do you love to do that it’s not work?’. After a few laughs from the panelists, the audience were encouraged to find that even top Amgen employees find time for things outside of work! The discussion then descended into how the future of healthcare and biotech will be shaped in the coming century. Scientifically stimulating questions including the ‘Biggest breakthroughs’ that could revolutionize healthcare were met with enthusiasm by Ray. Following on from this, Ray focused on bispecific antibodies. Indeed, these types of molecules already exist, with 68% of Amgen’s molecule being multispecific. Carolina then asked the other panelists to give an account of their day-to-day duties and ultimate goals. Rohini introduced what process development entails and then gave a detailed account of how she interacts with other teams at Amgen. Corinne gave an account of the commercialization of drugs which starts early on in the drug lifecycle. The understanding of the market, patient population and pricing strategy are all key areas to address before, during and after product launch. Another eyeopener for the audience was the notion that these factors are highly complex due to the unpredictable nature of patients and drug usage once released. Lastly, Patrick spoke of how the healthcare industry is behind the times, yet vast amounts of data is beginning to change this problem. With $16B invested in healthtech, AI and automation will improve drug development and patient outcomes.

Moving forward, the panelists discussed big revolutions within the next 15 years in the drug development and healthcare. Three main pillars of change were central to this discussion: the accumulation and availability of human genetic data, precision medicines, and AI. Carolina then closed the discussion with a final question of things that we currently do in the healthcare industry that will be obsolete in the future. ‘Animal studies’ replied Patrick, raising the moral issues of animal testing as well as the inaccuracies of extrapolating results to human patients.

Finally, the panelists discussed the key skills that will help students and early-career professionals to stay competitive in the healtcare field. Rohini pointed out that the ability to learn and adapt to new technologies is especially important. The floor was then open to a Q&A session whereby attendees had the opportunity to directly ask panelists their questions. Topics ranged from the challenging aspects of their jobs, career advice and the FDA regulatory landscape.


After the panel, attendees had the opportunity to network further. The panelists spent the rest of their evening meeting the attendees in a more relaxing setting.

This fantastic event was the product of hard work from the teams of BCLA, AWIS, HBA and WE2 at Amgen. We would also like to thank our transportation partners GWIS, UCLA Career Centre and Caltech BBE that allowed students to travel to Thousand Oaks for free for this event. We hope that you all enjoyed the event and found it a stimulating and engaging platform to better understand the changing face of drug development. If you missed the event, stay tuned for all our upcoming events via our website or newsletter.

If you feel that this, or any other BCLA event has helped your progress in your career, start-up or professional capacity, we would love to hear from you! Send us an e-mail at with your story!

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