Westchester Business Leaders: George D. Yancopoulos
President and Chief Scientific Officer, Regeneron Laboratories
George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D.
President & Chief Scientific Officer
Regeneron Laboratories: One of the 10 largest biotech companies in the country, having grown to about 2,000 employees since opening labs in Tarrytown in 1989. Beyond its three FDA-approved products – ARCALYST® (rilonacept) for a rare “orphan” autoinflammatory disease, EYLEA® (aflibercept) Injection for age-related macular degeneration and ZALTRAP® (ziv-aflibercept) Injection for patients with previously treated metastatic colorectal cancer – Regeneron has many drug candidates in development.
WHY WESTCHESTER: “[Regeneron founder Leonard Schleifer, M.D., PhD.,] and I are both long-time New Yorkers and we wanted to create a company here, although at the time there was little biotech in the New York area.”
LESSONS LEARNED: “Failure is a part of the process – you have to learn from it and use it to re-invent your company to withstand failure (by not betting it all on only one opportunity) and ultimately figure out how to succeed.”
SECRET TO SUCCESS: “Willingness to risk failure, and to believe in the science and innovation capability of very talented people.”
REWARDING MOMENT: “With our first drug approval (ARCALYST), when the patients suffering from the rare disease talked about how our drug made a difference in their lives and allowed them to live a normal life for the first time; and more recently, at the end of 2011, with the launch of our second drug, EYLEA, for macular degeneration, the heartfelt reports we received back from doctors and patients of those who were responding to our drug and gaining vision, some of whom had been failing all prior therapies and going blind. It made us feel that we were realizing our childhood dreams (as budding scientists) that we could use science to make a difference in people’s lives!” www.regeneron.com