What do Facebook, Chipotle and GSK all Have in common?

What do Facebook, Chipotle and GSK all Have in common?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014 - 5:25pm


Today the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program announced this year’s recipients of its “First Mover Fellowship” – and GSK's senior scientific investigator Bill Zuercher is among the winners. Bill joins a diverse group from across different industries, including technology, food and beverage. They’ll tackle common issues that affect many businesses, such as overcoming obstacles to innovation and balancing short-term financial goals with long-term social values.

In its sixth year, the goal of the First Mover fellowship program is to recognize and support exceptional leaders with the passion and vision to change how business is done and how success is measured. During the 12-month program, the group meets quarterly for seminars on innovation and leadership, and will work on individual projects. 

Bill’s project is to implement new approaches for sharing early research about drug targets with academia and even other pharmaceutical companies. In his fellowship application, Bill wrote: “The pharmaceutical industry is in desperate need of new validated targets for drug discovery to address unmet medical needs. Yet 90% of the human genome remains unevaluated…and no single pharmaceutical company has the resources to effectively investigate large numbers of unvalidated targets.”

Think of it like searching for a needle in a haystack – in a field full of haystacks.

But what if scientists at academic institutions and pharma companies worked together to search more haystacks and share their knowledge so everyone could hone in on the right haystack more quickly? 

“The industry, society and, most importantly, patients will benefit greatly from even a marginal improvement in the ability to select effective targets for discovering medicines,” Bill said. 

Keep checking this space, because Bill has promised to blog about the experience throughout the fellowship. We’re looking forward to great things!

Congrats to the other companies with 2014 First Movers:

  • Facebook
  • Edelman Asia Pacific
  • Visa
  • Credit Suisse
  • Hess 
  • IDEO
  • BHP Billiton
  • LinkedIn
  • Dow Chemical
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • Vans
  • Google 
  • eBay Inc.
  • Raley’s Family of Fine Stores
  • Xylem Inc.
  • TrueBlue Inc.
  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. 
  • BCR Management
  • The Venetian / The Palazzo Sands Expo Center
  • Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E)