Business of Biotechnology: Advanced Concepts Short Course, Fall 2019

BOSTON, OCTOBER 14-23, 2019

RA Capital’s next course will be taught in Spring 2020.

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Course Participants

  • Jessica Sagers, PhD (TA)
  • Megan Krench, PhD (TA)
  • Monica Stanciu, PhD (TA)
  • Joseph Beyene
  • Audra Amasino
  • Kat Cleary
  • Kayarash Karimian
  • Rachel Cotton
  • Arthur de Garidel
  • Ira Male
  • Chensu Wang
  • Megan Woods
  • Nicole Black
  • Sam Rodriques
  • Bernie Siu
  • Amanda Chen
  • David Jackson
  • Yi-Li Min
  • Sivani Jonnalagadda
  • Leon Wert
  • Kat Tarasova
  • Jefte Drijvers
  • Juliana Soto-Giron
  • Wenjiang Ma
  • Fabio Pucci
  • Alastair Louey


  • LOCATION: Back Bay, Boston, MA
  • COST: Free
  • LECTURER: Peter Kolchinsky, Ph.D, Managing Partner, RA Capital


  • DISCUSSION: Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2:00-4:00 PM
  • LECTURE 1: Thursday, Oct. 16, 2:00-5:00 PM
  • LECTURE 2: Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2:00-5:00 PM
  • LECTURE 3: Thursday, Oct. 23, 2:00-5:00 PM
  • PREP/READING TIME: Approx. 20 hours

"An amazing opportunity to build an understanding of every player in the biotech industry..."

- Amanda X. Chen, Fall 2019 Participant

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Session 1

Drug Pricing & The Biotech Social Contract


Read a series of articles about the biotech social contract and then, through that lens, write a short analysis of an article that is critical of biotech drug pricing practices. You will be paired with another student and exchange write-ups before coming to the pre-lecture discussion section.


Tuesday, 2:00-4:00pm

Discuss your drug pricing article analysis (where do you agree with the author and what do you think the author got wrong?) with your partner, the teaching assistant, and other students. Work on a combined analysis with your partner that uses the best of your ideas. This will also be an opportunity for you to meet the other students, teaching assistants, and the lecturer.


Thursday, 2:00-5:00pm

Come prepared to share your thoughts on the article that you and your partner analyzed. We’ll discuss how companies and investors think about drug pricing when they are considering whether to pursue a program. There will be lots of case studies. You’ll come away appreciating the implications of getting drug pricing reforms wrong but also which forms of price controls would actually make the industry more vibrant.


Stable and Unstable Business Models


Several articles and case studies. No written assignment.


TUESDAY, 2:00-5:00pm

You’ll hear lots of case studies. We’ll talk about when companies that appear diversified actually aren’t and how a successful clinical result can imperil a pipeline. You’ll come away appreciating how a company should think about constructing a pipeline in which there is at least some synergy among the programs as opposed to the whole being worth less than the sum of its parts.

Session 3

Financing Game Theory


A complex, data-rich presentation that we’ll discuss during the lecture. Also some articles and definitions of financing terms. No written assignment.


Thursday, 2:00-5:00pm

We’ll review case studies of how companies have tried to raise money in ways that defied conventions, including how crossover financing arose, why only one measure of “early-stage” vs “late-stage” really correlates with valuation (and it’s not what most people think), what about a deal gets investors to invest, why some companies end up having broken IPOs, and what does and doesn’t predict whether a company will have a successful first year in the public markets.


THURSDAY, 5:30-7:30pm (optional)

After the final lecture, we’ll have dinner and a tour of RA Capital with a demonstration of how we use our TechAtlas competitive landscape maps to identify technologies and companies that we think are compelling.