Interview with Master of Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Alum Dr. Sotirios Stergiopoulos

Posted in Bioinformatics, Biotechnology, Biotechnology Education, Biotechnology Enterprise, Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Biotechnology/MBA, Center for Biotechnology Education, Home page featured

Dr. Sotirios Stergiopoulos
Sotirios G. Stergiopoulos, MD, is physician trained in Internal Medicine and Cancer genetics from the National Institutes of Health, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. Sotirios has held various clinical academic faculty positions. Sotirios has been elected to the Sigma Xi Research Society as well as the prestigious New York Academy of Medicine and Royal Society of Medicine (UK).

What was your background before coming to Johns Hopkins? Did you complete the program as a full-time or part-time student?
My background coming in to the program was that I was a Global Brand Medical Director at Novartis working in Oncology as a therapeutic area in medical affairs. I was taking 2 classes a semester.

What were your career objectives and have they changed since pursuing your Master of Biotechnology Enterprise and Entrepreneurship?
My career objectives were to better understand the field I had entered. My concern was that as a physician with very little overall understanding of the Biotech/Pharma world, I was working in a silo and not understanding completely the field I had entered.

Why did you decide to pursue your MBEE?
I was invited to a dinner where there was a business development discussion occurring. The conversation was stimulating as there were discussions about new compounds and how to develop them and the cost to acquire. While I found this absolutely interesting, I realized I knew so little about this aspect of industry and had to get a better sense of it. I considered an MBA, but felt it was too broad and not focused as much on Biotech/Pharma. Therefore, when I found this program I was intrigued. I must say, that it was the BEST decision of my career.

How do you use your MBEE in your everyday work life?
So many parts of what I have learned from the program are used daily. Whether it is calculating the valuation of a company or an asset, to how to manage certain people. Every day, I am grateful for the opportunity I had to learn so much of pertinent topics that allow me to be able to excel in my career.

Would you do anything differently from your time at Hopkins?
One area that I still feel I could learn more about is Intellectual property. This is such a big issue when creating new molecules and the information gained from the research. Biggest worries and challenges faced are who holds the intellectual property. Constant struggle between academia and industry as well as company vs company.

Are there any aspects from the program that stuck out to you as particularly helpful in relation to your success?
Apart from certain knowledge gaps, such as Finance and marketing, the overall program instilled a more entrepreneurial component that I had not appreciated prior. My mindset was very science oriented with no further view of the whole picture of drug development.

As SVP and Head of Global Medical Affairs at IPSEN, Chairman of the Board of a biotech startup, and President of the Board of Governors of the Accreditation Counsel for Medical Affairs, your career is already quite successful and diverse. What do you see for yourself and your career in the future?
Recently, I have been named as the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Ipsen Biosciences. This is a great advancement in my career and affords me to make the difficult decisions for the Medical component of our industry. Eventually, I would like to become a CEO and be able to run a Biotech company as the General Director.

Did you have a favorite course or professor?
I must say that one of my favorite courses, taught by Dr. Lynn Johnson Langer, was one on Technimanagement, the management of highly technical people. This is such a difficult challenge as you deal with people that are so advanced in their field but need management and guidance. Very tricky!

The majority of the MBEE program is online, how did that affect your experience with the program?
The online component is a huge plus for people such as myself that had to travel for work continuously as well as the time to be at home with a young family (2 children under the age of 6) I guess the one downside would be the human interaction and being able to see your classmate’s reactions as well as your professors. Key component of learning is seeing reactions.

What is your advice to current or prospective MBEE students?
Learn as much as you can, not for the grades but for the benefit of being able to advance in your career and truly be knowledgeable about what you are doing.