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Rick Bright

The Power List 2020 – Biopharmaceuticals


Director at the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA); and Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response at the US Department of Health and Human Services

Bright is an expert on immunology and influenza – and previously served as Director of the Influenza and Emerging Infectious Diseases Division in BARDA, where he was responsible for preparing the US for influenza pandemics and coordinating production, acquisition and delivery of medical countermeasures during a pandemic response. BARDA is currently working with numerous industry partners to mount a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Treatments for hospitalized COVID-19 patients are urgently needed to save lives in this severe pandemic. We are working with partners in industry and across the government, including engaging long-standing CIADM partners, to make safe, effective treatments available as quickly as possible,” he said, in a recent press statement.

What one thing do you think will improve the drug development or the biopharma industry?

Drug development and the biopharma industry, as a whole, are largely successful by developing robust systems that are shown to be resilient and reproducible. Consistency is often the standard. Once a process or system is established, very little change occurs… even if it has been used for 50 years or longer. Entrepreneurs and innovators are constantly developing more efficient tools, processes and systems to reduce time to product, improve yields, reduce cost, improve quality and even improve the clinical benefit of various biologicals. However, there is often a gap between innovation and implementation. One thing that will improve drug development and the biopharma industry is greater adoption and incorporation of innovation, and not just at a single step in a process, but throughout the full drug development cycle, innovating through discovery, development, evaluation, production, delivery and dispensing.

What are the defining moments of your career?

While I was at the CDC, I developed a rapid screening tool to assess antiviral drug resistance in influenza viruses. Using the tool, I discovered that all circulating influenza viruses were resistant to the world’s most used influenza antiviral drug. This led to CDC guidance change on the use of influenza antiviral drugs.

As BARDA director, I changed the USG strategy to drive and incorporate innovation to improve our nation’s health security and pandemic response posture.

Finally, implementing the strategy for  improved pandemic response capabilities throughout the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.


Part of the Power List 2020

The Power List 2020

Celebrating the great minds that bring us innovation in small molecules, biopharmaceuticals, and advanced medicine.

Go to The Power List 2020

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