During summer of 2019, I interned in Portfolio Management at Precision BioSciences (“Precision”), a clinical-stage gene editing company in Durham. As a biology major interested in innovative biotechnologies and passionate about bringing therapies from the bench to the bedside, I found that Precision’s mission — “dedicated to improving life” — strongly resonated with me and permeated the work they do. Overall, the internship was a rewarding experience that reinforced my excitement about the life sciences innovation space and developed by interest in the intersection between science and business.
Portfolio Management System
My main project over the summer was implementing a new portfolio management system, to help the company make decisions to maximize the impact of the company’s investments. In order to implement this system, I assembled a cross-functional team to develop a framework and business processes for portfolio analysis. Throughout the internship, I adapted project strategy based on stakeholder feedback, updated the group frequently on progress, and served as primary point-of-contact with software vendor. This project taught me the importance of resource optimization, especially as a company grows and is faced with more large-scale decisions. Furthermore, through coffee chats with colleagues from across the company, I gained deeper insight into the company’s transition from a start-up (that started at Duke!) to a larger, now public company. I learned that while some growth pains are inevitable, preserving the company’s culture in every aspect is crucial to maintaining the start-up-like “family” environment.
Market Positioning Strategy
In addition to working on the portfolio management system, I also defined the market positioning strategy for lead gene therapy program by conducting research on competitive landscape and patient segmentation. I presented key findings of this research to R&D stakeholders at the company, and drafted a target product profile for the gene therapy. Furthermore, I quantified this gene therapy program’s value by modeling sales forecasts in Excel and researching key assumptions. Finally, I informed pricing strategy by modeling innovative gene therapy payment models. This project sparked my interest in the post-market landscape gene therapy adoption — unlike traditional treatments that require repeated doses, gene therapies that could potentially offer a one-time, life-saving cure have unique economic, ethical, and policy considerations. For example, the gene therapy Zolgensma for treating spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is priced at $2.1 million, raising concerns about accessibility to patients.
See below for an edited version of my capstone presentation on the portfolio analysis framework and portfolio management system.