I love the biotech-life sciences-healthcare scene in San Francisco. So much happening! So many companies, constant news on new drugs, new tools, new results, new approaches. There is a continual flow of seminars, panel discussions, fireside chats and other formats for gathering information.

But that’s what surprises me – that not everyone, or even a majority of people I know, take full advantage of the supply of events (or even attend with some regularity). For me, these events provide many things: a source of information for on-going research and company activities, a forum for networking with a wide variety of people in the industry and the opportunity to hear different perspectives, particularly about how to start, grow, and maintain a fledgling biotech endeavor.

Last week I attended the Drug Hunter Award and associated seminar at UCSF. Dr. Richard Miller was the recipient of the award for his work in bringing two drugs to market, Rituxan (a therapeutic antibody) and ibrutinib (a small molecule kinase inhibitor).

The talk provided a great overview on some of the challenges for translating research into a clinically successful drug. One lesson Dr. Miller extolled is “know your disease.” He admonished that “knowing” is not the same as a casual chat with the person down the hall. The second piece of advice: there is some input you will need to ignore in your march towards success. His two examples were being discouraged initially on developing a therapeutic antibody because oncology clinics did not have refrigerated storage, and the dogma that covalent inhibitors were not the way to go. This reminds me of a quote from Ben Horowitz’s book The Hard Thing About Hard Things, “When you are building a company, you must believe there is an answer and you cannot pay attention to your odds of finding it. You just have to find it.”

And thus I return to my central theme here – there are a lot of resources to learn from, places, people and events to absorb information and help you find the path forward. Take advantage of what is before you!

And if you didn’t get to take advantage of Dr. Miller’s talk, find it here.