She is a talented drug-development professional, an impeccable leader, and marketing expert. Meet Catherine Pearce, DHSc, MBAChief Operating Officer at CinRx, whose firm determination and passion helped her in achieve many career milestones in the pharmaceutical industry.
She has more than 20 years of experience in pharmaceutical clinical development, business development, and R&D at companies including Merck, Ethicon and Medpace. Most recently, she served as the Vice President of Research and Development for New Therapeutic Entities (NTEs) at Teva, where she was responsible for developing over 20 repurposed products across multiple therapeutic areas.
Catherine has co-founded and assembled CinRx’s talented leadership team that has submitted multiple New Drug Applications (NDAs) throughout their careers, overseen hundreds of Investigational New Drug (INDs) applications, as well as Clinical Trial Applications (CTAs), and Investigational Medicinal Product Dossiers (IMPDs). Between the approximately 15 person team, the group has published 36 patents and participated in more than 2300 clinical trials which resulted in 50 approved therapeutics worldwide.
Into the Shoes of Catherine Pearce
Catherine started her career in sales and marketing with Hoffman-LaRoche in 1997 and later with Merck, where she launched cardiovascular products in hypertension and lipid management. For 5 years, she served as aClinical Project Director for Phase I-III global studies at a CRO, Medpace, in a variety of therapeutic areas, including cardiovascular, diabetes, nephrology and neuropathic pain studies. She later started the Business Development group in 2007, and subsequently left the company in 2011 to pursue opportunities in life science investment and device development at Ethicon (J&J).
In 2012, she joined Teva as Vice President, R&D, to lead the medical assessments for the newly created New Therapeutic Entities (NTE) team, a group responsible for building a portfolio of drugs through repurposing generic molecules. After successfully helping to add over 22 repurposed molecules to Teva’s R&D portfolio, she left to co-found CinRx Pharma, LLC—a privately held biotech company dedicated to drug development. Being a Chief Operating Officer at CinRx, her daily responsibilities include the overall management of the company and its operations, business development, strategic direction and planning, for CinRx and its subsidiary organizations.
Teachings worth Admiring
Catherine acknowledges one of her colleagues, Dr. Jon Isaacsohn, a co-founder and CEO of CinRx, as an influential mentor for over 20 years in this industry. She states that through him, she has been taught the underlying strategies for good clinical trial design and execution, as well as been encouraged to challenge herself professionally. Personally, Catherine sees great learnings growing up with a set of grandparents who taught her that one doesn’t need an education to leave a legacy of kindness that can change people’s lives.
She describes herself that as a voracious reader of all media, devoting a substantial time to newspapers and journals daily, including her favorite novels of the past several years which have been memoirs. She thinks and believes that learning about someone else’s journey and seeing life from a different perspective is both inspiring and humbling. She recalls her favorite childhood book series “Valuetales” which had a substantial positive impact on her. Each book featured a notable scientist, inventor, or historical figure that told the story of the embodied value in their work. She made the connection very early that the work is more than just accomplishing a task, but an opportunity to demonstrate your values and add meaning to your life and others.
Serving the Needs
Catherine states that in more than one previous role, she needed to create her own job description and department. Through quoting, “Not having a roadmap, resources, or legacy process necessitates creativity,” she implies that when she started the Business Development Department at Medpace, she didn’t try to copy another system and implement a large-scale initiative on Day 1. Instead, she interviewed customers of Medpace and got a sense of what they wanted to see from the department and how the business might best serve their needs. The slower, systematic, more targeted approach allowed her and her team to set realistic goals and make necessary adjustments in order to grow into an optimized department with the right tools and people.
Embracing the Technology
She believes that even though technology is a great enabler, it can also make people particularly lazy and create a “herd” mentality. The key is not to use these tools as a replacement for the ground work that can uncover novelty with scientists and other innovators. She states that human relationships and having conversations face-to-face can really help you piece together seemingly disparate pieces of data which can spark a great idea. Many times, people just simply don’t ask enough questions from each other because they assume all the answers they need can be “googled”. The biggest advantage she sees to evolving technology is to connect people faster, enabling any conversations.
Advice to Rely On
Catherine firmly believes that with working hard anyone can taste the fruitiness of success. She advice every budding leaders to work hard in order to build a team that possess different traits. Maintain a culture of curiosity and go out of your way to celebrate victories, both big and small. “Do not assume that consulting “experts” will be a key to success. I have found that there are people with great, untapped ideas that just have not been called upon,” mentions Catherine.
She also suggests to be surrounded with the people who are smart and will challenge you. “Invite criticism and drop complacency,” she adds. Most importantly, she ask such buds to bring a sense of joy and humor to their work.
“Generally, I think people need to find their own rhythms – and those will change over time. Develop good, healthy physical, emotional, and spiritual habits uniquely right for you and balance will follow,” quotes Catherine.
CinRx’s Future through Catherine’s eyes
Catherine states that the short-term goals at CinRx are to prove the value of the model. She and her team believe that there is a better, more efficient and cost-effective way to bring meaningful medicines to patients. Within 5 years, they would like to have current CinRx companies grown their respective pipelines with additional in-license activities while also establishing 1-2 NewCo’s every year in an “evergreen” approach.