Can’t We All Get Along?

In his August 2017 editorial (“Musing on Medical Marvels”), Keith Stewart, MBChB, MBA, recounted the amazing innovations in cancer treatment in the past 20 years and acknowledged the hard work of every member of the medical-marvels team – including “Big Pharma.” Here, a hematologist in industry writes to thank Dr. Stewart for extending the olive branch.

Like Dr. Stewart, I too have marveled at the remarkable pace of change in the development of novel therapies for hematologic malignancies, and have enjoyed feeling the “wind in our hair” as past American Society of Hematology annual meetings have highlighted the evidence of that pace.

As a pediatric hematologist/oncologist who has worked on a dozen drug development programs over the past 10 years, it was particularly satisfying to have Dr. Stewart argue for an attitude of inclusiveness toward me and my industry colleagues, and for recognizing our collective contributions to the renaissance we are living in. It bears remembering that many of us were medical and/or graduate students, residents, fellows, post-docs, and academic colleagues at one point. We’ve simply chosen to occupy a different – but equally crucial – role to apply our education, training, and passion in this shared mission. Constructing or propagating artificial dichotomies (e.g., “academia vs. industry”) wastes time and energy that could otherwise be spent collaborating on that next protocol design, clinical development plan, or investigator-initiated study.

Samuel C. Blackman, MD, PhD
Senior Vice President,
Clinical Development
Silverback Therapeutics, Inc.
Seattle, WA