Monday, December 2, 2013

Life Science Leadership: A Series of Interviews with Speakers at the CED Life Science Conference 2014

Life Science Leadership is a CED interview series that provides insight into the ideas that will be discussed during the CED Life Science Conference 2014, and sheds light on an individual speaker’s perception of the sweeping changes affecting the health care industry.

This interview:  Michael Astrue,
Former Commissioner, Social Security Administration; Interim CEO, InVivo Therapeutics

CED: You spent six years heading the Social Security Administration (SSA). If there was one take-away from that era that would help emerging life sciences companies get a foothold on the changing health care landscape, what might that be?

Michael Astrue: Most people don't realize that retirement payments are fairly automatic and that most of the administrative effort of the Social Security Administration focuses on the disability programs and authentication of individuals for non-SSA programs. As I tried to plan for future disability workloads, I could see the horrible legacy created by smoking and narcotics. Our poor nutrition is also devastating our health by causing a tsunami of obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease.
We need to attack the root causes of these issues, not just the symptoms.

CED: You’ve recently stepped up to take on the primary leadership position at InVivo Therapeutics. How has your new role already informed your perception of what Healthcare in 2020 will be like, or should be like?

Astrue: My current position is my first one in the device industry, and it has excited me about the many opportunities for drug-device combinations. I am particularly excited by InVivo's hydrogel technology, which can safely deliver proteins to specific locations in the body on a time-released basis.  Also, a number of developments in material sciences are creating many fruitful areas for collaboration.

CED: While at the SSA, you had a unique viewpoint on aging populations and the role so many different organizations – public and private – play in the success of their treatments. Share with us, please, your perspective on the convergence of roles for caregivers, physicians, government, pharmaceutical companies, and researchers -- and how that will impact care and treatment in 2020.

Astrue: With all the acrimony and confusion created by the Affordable Care Act and its clumsy implementation, it is difficult to clearly see the health care system of 2020. In my view, the changes are likely to be less dramatic than most people anticipate today.
In 2020, I expect we will still:

a) be debating "reform"

b) be struggling with rising costs

c) be arguing about increasing government and reimburse control of sensitive medical choices.

A downloadable PDF of this interview can be found here.

Read more interviews and register for North Carolina’s leading life science conference on the future of healthcare, brought to you by CED, NCBIO, and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, at

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