Patients' Experiences Offer Insights to Industry at BIO Conference

Kathleen Coolidge | August 21, 2012

Kathleen Coolidge is an Associate Director of Patient Advocacy at Genzyme. She shares some of her insights from the recent BIO conference held in Boston.

I had the good fortune of attending the 2012 Bio International Convention (along with 15,000 other attendees) in Boston on June 18. Held annually, the convention is the biotechnology industry's largest global event, creating opportunities for networking, partnering, and learning about important industry trends.

While an international convention of that size might seem likely to be impersonal and overwhelming, in fact I found the Massachusetts Patient Panel to be one of the most compelling and personal events I’ve attended recently. Three local Massachusetts patients, each with a rare, serious medical condition, told their stories of what it meant for them to live with their disease to an audience of industry leaders, patient advocates, scientists, and politicians. They also described how it felt to have local Massachusetts industry research and manufactured treatment for their respective diseases. All three patients said that they were grateful and, in a sense, blessed, to be able to receive care in a community that is cutting edge in terms of research and technology. This made me feel, as an employee in the biotechnology field in Massachusetts, equally grateful and blessed to be part of this vibrant community that’s potentially transforming lives. There were many tears on the panel and in the audience, as each person movingly shared their journey and expressed their hopes for the future and their thanks to industry.

The value of a patient panel like this—especially at a large, international, highly scientific and business-focused convention—is the ability of an individual patient to make it all real by demonstrating to industry what millions of dollars of investment in research and manufacturing can mean to actual people and their families. Sharing those stories can be life-changing, both for the patient and for the industry people listening

To see a clip of the interview with one of the patients and other insights from the event, visit You can also learn more about the Bio International Convention at


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