Creating a successful commercial organization: Delivering against our promise to help people living with cancer

Throughout my career, I’ve sought opportunities to work with outstanding scientists, drug developers and commercialization colleagues to partner on innovations that can have a substantial impact on human health. Once you have been part of a team delivering transformative outcomes to patients, you don’t want to do anything else. Nothing scares me more than wasting a career on mediocrity. That innate drive to create solutions for difficult challenges, as well as a desire to make a significant impact on human outcomes, has fueled my commitment to people living with cancer. It’s the same fire that motivates so many of my colleagues at Mirati: Despite the challenge, we are relentlessly focused on creating better options to enable a life beyond cancer for patients and their families.

Despite the challenge, we are relentlessly focused on creating better options to enable a life beyond cancer for patients and their families.

Our pipeline, and now, our products, are proof of our commitment to patients. The KRASG12C mutation is notoriously challenging, despite being the most commonly occurring KRAS mutation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).1 Understanding the challenge and need for innovation, our scientists set out to create and deliver better treatments for patients. Now, there is a new option.

We are proud of our products’ potential as a new treatment option, and we’re especially excited to bring these life-changing options to people living with cancer. It’s not enough to create a new innovation; to ensure patient impact, they, their caretakers and their doctors must be educated about their treatment options, and they must have access. Mirati is working to ensure people living with cancer will have unrestricted and affordable patient access through competitive pricing, support services such as Mirati & Me and partnerships across the nation with community oncologists and distributors. We are also working to educate both patients and oncologists, as well as increasing testing and patient identification efforts, to ensure people living with cancer are matched with treatments that best meet their needs.

After more than 20 years of building and leading commercialization functions and capabilities at various organizations, I’m proud of the relentless dedication of Mirati’s team to improving the lives of people with cancer and the high level of scientific innovation we’ve maintained. We’re excited to continue driving value for the cancer community, and we have great potential to change people’s lives through our therapies.

I’m proud of the relentless dedication of Mirati’s team to improving the lives of people with cancer and the high level of scientific innovation we’ve maintained.

At Mirati’s core is a willingness to learn, explore and adapt. By staying open to diverse perspectives and mindsets, we are able to continuously improve our work and make new discoveries. Mirati’s discovery programs are prime examples of this—our scientific curiosity will propel our future success as we continue developing and discovering new therapies in the targeted oncology space.

As we look to the future, Mirati has the opportunity to establish new standards of care for people living with cancer affected by the KRASG12C mutation globally. Through our products and pipeline, our potential for patient impact is significant. This opportunity means we needed to create, and now, sustain a commercial vehicle to deliver on our promise to patients and commitment to shareholders.

With the wealth of opportunity in our pipeline and our team driven, patient first culture, we have the opportunity to drive commercialization success, and deliver life-changing medicines to people living with cancer.

  1. Pakkala S, Ramalingam SS. Personalized therapy for lung cancer: striking a moving target. JCI Insight. 2018;3(15):e120858. doi:10.1172/jci.insight.120858

How innovation has the potential to change patients’ lives

Today, the Mirati Drug Discovery, Research and Early Development teams are exceptional and productive groups of scientists working across all stages of the project initiation, discovery and early drug development process. This growth has been one of the biggest and most vital, changes for Mirati, as it has allowed our innovation to continue. We are now able to capitalize on our successes, grow our capabilities and advance our portfolio of life-changing therapies.

As a scientist, I love the thrill of making new discoveries and solving the different challenges that arise. I’m thrilled about our discovery and development projects, which pursue greater innovations and explore breakthroughs that have the potential to target cancer. Our discovery projects begin by identifying tumor-driving cellular processes in cancer patients and continues when we bring together scientists from the Drug Discovery and Research teams to identify new molecules with the potential to precisely target those processes.

I love the thrill of making new discoveries and solving the different challenges that arise.

The discovery of a potential new medicine can be lengthy and difficult, and we must sometimes create hundreds or even thousands of unique compounds before we find one that has the potential to be an investigational new drug candidate. The Drug Discovery group’s collaboration with other Mirati teams–including Research, Drug Metabolism and Early Development–helps us determine which compounds to pursue and advance toward clinical development. Once a therapy enters clinical trials, we are hopeful about the value our drug candidates may have for patients and excited to hear about the progress of those clinical studies.

When I first started at Mirati, we had the desire to make a difference in patients’ lives, which fueled us to expand and advance our portfolio of life-changing therapies. Our sustained commitment to innovation, growing talent across various teams and dedication to improving patients’ lives provides us the opportunity to continue developing a broad portfolio of targeted oncology projects.

During our rapid growth, one thing has remained constant at Mirati: our common commitment to discover and develop new treatments with the potential to transform the lives of patients living with cancer. We have been–and will always be–a patient-centric organization, and our focus on improving patients’ lives is what drives us forward.

Why I’m optimistic about the future of targeted oncology

As originally published on LinkedIn

Over the past 26 years, the overall cancer death rate in the U.S. has fallen significantly, driven by improvements for four major cancers, including lung cancer.1 Yet, in the U.S., almost 609,360 deaths from cancer are expected in 2022 – that’s about 1,670 deaths per day.2

It’s a stark reminder that the promise of science to deliver for patients has never been greater and our work in targeted oncology has never been more important.

I learned some of the most important professional lessons of my life early on in my career – and that is you have to be courageous, accountable and lead with open-minded empathy no matter the challenge, and importantly, work with a sense of urgency.

At Mirati Therapeutics, our team lives these values so that we can positively impact the lives of those living with cancer.

As I recently shared at the 40th Annual Virtual JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, this is a transformative time for Mirati and we have tremendous opportunity ahead of us.

I’m excited about what 2022 will bring for patients with cancer.

I strongly believe Mirati is built to deliver a sustainable flow of innovative targeted cancer medicines. Our strategy, which has been consistent from the day we were founded, is to double down on investigating the genetic and immunological drivers of cancer. We have the capabilities and discipline to have a meaningful impact.

And we’re delivering.

There is strong momentum with our two late-stage programs and a significant near-term launch opportunity for a type of mutated lung cancer.

What I’m even more excited about is the breadth and depth of our pipeline and scientific platforms, including our potentially best-in-class programs like PRMT5, SOS1, and next-gen KRAS inhibitors, all of which are backed by the right expertise and resources.

What it comes down to though, is the people.

Our people are passionate about the work we do for patients, and have tremendous energy about the possibilities ahead.

All of this to say, I am optimistic about the future of Mirati because we have bold science, the best talent and a well-defined path to sustainable growth.

I look forward to sharing my perspective along the way.

  1. Facts & Figures 2020 Reports Largest One-year Drop in Cancer Mortality ;
  2. Cancer Facts & Figures 2022



In exploration of the next generation of precision oncology

The groundbreaking research enabling the targeting of oncogenic drivers, including targets like KRAS which have been challenging for decades, have driven the development of the next generation of cancer medicines but also captured the interest of oncology researchers around the world, including Mirati Therapeutics and many biotech companies within the local San Diego area. Last week, I was fortunate to speak to these advancements and emerging opportunities in personalized cancer treatments at the 17th UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center Industry/Academia Next Generation Precision Oncology Symposium.

During the one-day symposium, researchers gathered to share the latest advancements in precision oncology to further progress this area of research and provide hope for those with cancer and their loved ones. This forum was designed to foster an open discussion of scientific and medical advances while placing an emphasis on the utility of using unpublished research to accelerate data dissemination.

San Diego has become a hub for cutting-edge science within the biopharma industry

Hosted by UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, this valuable knowledge exchange is another example of why San Diego has become a hub for cutting-edge science within the biopharma industry and for those who seek to push the boundaries of health care investigation. I was inspired by the progress in precision oncology treatments and the collaboration from the symposium’s participants who shared new insights on targeted treatments, immuno-oncology, biomarker testing and emerging therapeutic strategies.

At the symposium, I provided an update on Mirati’s KRAS oncology pipeline contributing to the latest cancer research showcased at the event. The complex role of KRAS mutations in the pathogenesis of colon cancer and the potential of targeting the KRAS signaling pathway through therapeutic intervention was central to the theme of the symposium. KRAS mutations have been the focus of scientific research for more than 30 years, culminating in the discovery of a KRAS binding pocket enabling the development of KRAS targeted therapies.1 This discovery has driven Mirati’s drug development program for KRAS targeted therapies, inhibiting KRASG12C as well as opportunities to target other KRAS mutant variants and other challenging drug targets.

We have always believed in innovation through collaboration to provide meaningful breakthroughs for patients with hard-to-treat cancers

At Mirati, we have always believed in innovation through collaboration to provide meaningful breakthroughs for patients with hard-to-treat cancers. It was an honor to discuss Mirati’s advancements in KRAS targeted therapies and the latest research occurring within the local San Diego community at this year’s symposium. I look forward to further exploring the future of targeted oncology as we seek to improve the lives of those with cancer.


  1. Ostrem JM, Shokat KM. Direct small-molecule inhibitors of KRAS: from structural insights to mechanism-based design. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2016;15(11):771-785.

Learn more about KRAS mutations

Dr. Spira, a director at the Virginia Cancer Specialists Research Institute, Co-Chair of the US Oncology Thoracic Oncology Committee, and a faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine discusses why KRASG12C is a prolific problem in this Mirati-sponsored episode of the “Cure Talks Cancer” Podcast. Dr. Spira explains the science of the KRAS gene and introduces, a website for HCPs that builds awareness of the KRASG12C mutation. The conversation focuses on the importance of educating oncologists around the KRAS mutation in lung cancer. Listen here.