MedSIR INSIDE OUT – François Riva
Today we are happy to spend a brief moment with François Riva, Director of Business Development at MedSIR.
MS: Thanks, François, for spending some time with us here today.
François Riva (FR): Thank you, it’s my pleasure!
MS: It seems like you’ve been all over the place over the last decade or so. What brought you to MedSIR?
FR: Wow, that’s a tough one to start out! Well, about 12 or 13 years ago I was finishing up my research in Molecular Biology in Switzerland when my life took me back to Barcelona. By chance, and very thankfully, I ended up at Pierre Fabre Oncology where I began my professional career. It was a great experience that then led me to Roche, and then Eisai; all wonderful companies, wonderful people and professionals, and great learning experiences. During this time, I built quite a passion for Oncology, drug development strategies, marketing, sales, etc. It’s really a very, very exciting, multi-faceted field and any position you hold comes with its opportunities to learn more and more. It all depends on your everyday approach. I also developed quite a deep respect and admiration for Medical Oncologists and their knowledge and work. I will always regret not having become an Oncologist myself, but I guess second best is being able to work side-by-side with them. And that, along with the possibility of working daily in the vibrant and dynamic field of cancer drug development, is what attracted me to MedSIR.
MS: Interesting. So, it seems like you were in quite a few multinational companies but decided to jump to a small company. How was that change?
FR: The transition was seamless. It’s all about who you are and what you’re looking for, the challenges and goals you have set for yourself. Large companies are great places to work for many reasons. They provide a certain stability, great team environments, and a multitude of career options. Moving to a small start-up company like MedSIR 3 years ago can be perceived as risky, but from day 1 I looked at it as a positive challenge and an incredible opportunity to be able to develop a career in a very exciting field. The sky’s the limit, you plan out your daily goals, you ask a ton of questions, you learn non-stop, you read, you talk, you interact, you make mistakes, you pick yourself up and you learn from them. It definitely takes a lot of believing in yourself to make it work and it’s definitely not for the fainthearted! Also, at MedSIR we work great together and feed off of each other really well like one large family. Most importantly, we don’t ever shy away from conflict and stating our well-studied opinions. This is key! This is not a “Sir Yes Sir!” environment. We are all captains of our own ships with our beliefs and views on how we should best move forward and all opinions are equally respected. This creates an amazing and unique working environment.
MS: What’s your opinion on how the MedSIR model is being received on the outside.
FR: The truth is things have been really positive from the get-go. Like anything new and innovative you’ll always run into obstacles along the way, people who doubt the utility of what you’re trying to do, companies and researchers who are locked into their traditional ways of doing things, and so on and so forth. All of these are absolutely understandable and 100% respectable. However, that doesn’t stop us from feeling that we can really help improve the way things are being carried out in clinical research. Being the first to set out to do things in our own way, we really have no true point of reference, so it’s hard sometimes to know if we’re on the right path. That said, there are ways of gauging success -other than counting the number of projects started and completed- which is the simple and honest feedback from both Medical Oncologists and Pharma Companies on how we are performing. The truth is that their feedback has so far been very positive. Are things perfect? Absolutely not! But, we really try to continuously improve and since we are small and flexible we can quickly reroute the ship if we need to.
MS: Sounds exciting! What’s your favorite thing about your job?
FR: As I stated before, I really love being able to work side-by-side with some of the world’s top Medical Oncologists, pick their brains, listen to them speak strategically, learn about their everyday battles and challenges in treating their patients, admiring their accumulated knowledge. They are amazing people and have a true strong desire to make things better for their patients. Their drive and motivation is contagious. Obviously, there are other incredible moments as well that we encounter as a company in cancer research, for example, when we discover how well certain patients are doing, or have done, while enrolled in one of our clinical trials. Just to know that you had something to do with their positive outcome is really, really special.
MS: What’s next for you and MedSIR?
FR: A lot! One problem we have is that we are never satisfied! We believe that the concept that we have put in place of helping Medical Oncologists quickly and efficiently develop their ideas into strategic clinical trials can be, and should be, used more and more. We are strongly focused on Breast Cancer for now, but we have already recently branched off into Lung, Endometrial, Ovarian, and Prostate Cancer. We need to continue to help researchers inside and outside of Breast Cancer to develop their concepts and continue to demonstrate to companies the value of investigator-initiated ideas and how they can positively impact their drug development strategies, even at an early stage. The speed and quality which we apply to our everyday activities is so, so beneficial to everybody -especially patients- that we are very enthusiastic about spreading the news. There is still a lot of work to be done in this field!
MS: Thanks so much François for your time and good luck in the future! Where can our readers get more information about MedSIR?
FR: Thanks so much for the opportunity. If anyone would like to get more information regarding MedSIR they can visit our webpage at www.medsir.org. Also, in December, we will be attending the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium in San Antonio, Texas. So, that could also be a great opportunity to meet.