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BIO International is one of the most highly anticipated conferences on my agenda. Each year thousands of emerging biotech and pharma leaders come together to talk about innovations, share their accomplishments, and brainstorm the strategies that drive our industry forward.

There are several trends currently shaping the emerging biopharma landscape that will be highlighted at this year’s event. In particular, I’m looking forward to sessions and networking around the use of real-world data and evidence (RWD and RWE) and analytics to support emerging companies’ drug programs and research. Over the past couple of years, we have seen increasing interest in the use of RWE earlier in clinical development, and importantly, the interpretation and applications of these data with data platform and analytics technologies, and industry expertise, to make better decisions about protocol designs and patient recruiting.

BIO has dedicated an entire track to this industry trend, entitled Harnessing Big Data to Drive Innovation in Biomedicine. It will feature several interesting sessions, including a presentation on big data in precision medicine lead by Dr. Atul Butte and John Quackenbush addressing the bottlenecks in translating data to analysis and meaningful interpretation; and another on the challenges and opportunities of big data for emerging biopharma, where David Goldstein, and Guna Rajagopal will discuss how big data is fueling innovation in drug discovery and development.

In alignment with the session track, QuintilesIMS will be unveiling its own solution for emerging biopharma and the underpinning foundation of real world data and evidence that delivers critical insights and helps create value for these customers. As a result of the merger earlier this year between Quintiles and IMS Health, we are able to leverage vast stores of healthcare data and services on behalf of our clients, to help them make insight-driven decisions supporting their overall strategy to advance their assets and drive value for their organization. The application of big data to the development lifecycle is shaping the future of medicine, and we are excited to be a part of this next generation of clinical development and commercialization, aiding the treatment and management of all areas of human disease.

Exploring rare disease research

Another area of interest at BIO are the many sessions focused on rare disease research, which represents huge opportunity across the emerging biopharma landscape. There are currently 449 unique drugs approved for one or more orphan indications, and drugs for rare diseases represented more than 40 percent of new drug approvals in 2014-to-2016.

Two of the rare disease sessions at BIO will include QuintilesIMS experts: Closing the Innovation Gap in Rare Diseases: Where are We Headed? lead by Murray Aitkin, executive director of QuintilesIMS Institute; and Defining and Reflecting Value in Rare Disease Therapies and Payment Approaches, where panelists, including QuintilesIMS VP Adam Sohn and Paul Melmeyer, Associate Director Public Policy at the National Organization of Rare Disorders, will explore the value of biopharmaceuticals and how decisions around patient access and coverage can be guided by value to patients.

BIO brings together a wide range of life sciences and application areas and offers an educational program covering biotech and pharma’s most relevant and timely topics, as well as, amongst other sessions, an executive training program in business development. Outside of the educational sessions, the event provides emerging biopharma experts networking opportunities with industry leaders and investors eager to learn about and discuss the latest innovations in this space. In one of this year’s keynote addresses, former UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, will share insights and reflection on the rapidly changing global landscape as attendees prepare to navigate a potentially transformative political scene.