March 1, 2013

Robert Ingram wins Life Science Leadership Award at 2013 CED Life Sciences Conference

Former Glaxo chair Robert Ingram won the Life Science Leadership Award Thursday afternoon, a presentation that was part of the 2013 CED Life Sciences Conference at the Raleigh Convention Center.

In accepting the award, Ingram reflected on a time, years ago, when he was allowed to “break the law.”

Ingram recounted the story of a little girl who, before the approval of Zofran in January of 1991, was diagnosed with a deadly osteosarcoma, a tumor on her cervical spine. While doctors could remove the tumor, the resulting chemotherapy would have killed the child.

“Imagine being the parents,” said Ingram, pausing.

Ingram was in a group that met with then-FDA chair Frank Young, who decided to grant permission for the girl to use then-unapproved Zofran, a treatment for chemo side effects. It took another 14 months before the drug was approved.

“And here was this little girl, now 12, bald, but free from cancer,” Ingram recalled. And the girl, now a physician with three children of her own, has stayed in touch. “Every year she writes me a thank-you note,” he added.

Moving closer to the microphone, he adds, “We’re all so privileged to be part of an industry . . . that discovers, develops and delivers a better answer for the patients we continue to serve.”

And none of it’s possible without funding, Ingram says. It’s vital, not just in creating new treatments, but in keeping talent.

“If we don’t have more venture capital, these bright young people . . . won’t stay,” he warns.

Ingram, now with Hatteras Venture Partners, was given a standing ovation at the presentation. Former North Carolina governor Jim Hunt made the introduction, calling Ingram a “giant in the American pharmaceutical and life science industry” and “one of North Carolina’s greatest leaders.”

– Lauren Ohnesorge, Triangle Business Journal.

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