The world's poorest populations are disproportionately affected by neglected diseases, such as tuberculosis (TB), malaria, visceral leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, human African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), and filarial worms. The current standards of care are difficult to administer, often have significant toxicities, and are increasingly becoming less effective due to the development of resistance. Despite the fact that these diseases cause significant morbidity and mortality worldwide, there has been little investment by industry in developing new therapies due to expectations of low financial returns.
In early disease screenings, Anacor's boron chemistry platform proved to be particularly well-suited for developing treatments for these types of infectious diseases. Though the company felt a responsibility to apply its technology to neglected disease R&D, it was venture-backed and pre-revenue. Devoting time and money to the pursuit of new therapies for complex, unprofitable global health markets could create a conflict with the objectives of its investors. To overcome this, Anacor devised a business plan to leverage non-dilutive funding sources to underwrite this important work. Over the past 10 years, this business model has funded the development of one of the most promising pipelines in this space, with two clinical candidates for African sleeping sickness and TB and the potential for five or more in the next 1-2 years. Over $50 million of funding to subsidize this R&D was raised from non-profits, government agencies, companies and foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wellcome Trust. Anacor's drug discovery capabilities were supplemented with more than 50 external collaborators from academia, nonprofits and pharmaceutical partners that provided additional expertise in infectious disease biology. Eric will be sharing the story of Anacor's science, its business model, and the strategic value that can be gained from pursuing R&D programs in neglected diseases. The hope is to inspire others by example and demonstrate the depth of potential to treat some of the world's most devastating infectious diseases.
Eric is the Vice President for the Neglected Diseases Initiative at Anacor Pharmaceuticals Inc., overseeing the company's research and development efforts to advance new therapeutics for the treatment of neglected diseases. He brings 26 years of pharmaceutical and biotech experience from various leadership roles in R&D program and alliance management, business development, marketing, sales, finance, and manufacturing from his time at Eli Lilly and Company, MedImmune, McKesson, and InteKrin Therapeutics.
Eric Easom served as a member of the Board of Directors at the Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI) from 2007-2014 and as Chairman from 2010-2013.
Eric received an MBA from Indiana University and a BS and Masters of Engineering from the University of Louisville.