New Oncology head brings biotech industry and academic research experience

Gwyn Bebb, BM, B.Ch., Ph.D., joined Parexel Sept. 11 as Senior Vice President and Global Therapeutic Area Head — Oncology. In his new role, Gwyn will lead a 36-member global team of oncologists in the development of new treatments for cancer that meet patients’ most pressing medical needs. He is based in Long Beach, California.

Gwyn brings more than 20 years’ experience in clinical research in academia and the biotech industry to his new role at Parexel
  • Most recently Gwyn was a Clinical Research Medical Director in Global Development at Amgen, Thousand Oaks, California, where he shepherded a biphasic T cell engager to a pivotal Phase 3 trial. 
  • His experience also includes serving as a professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where he established the Precision Oncology Experimental Therapeutics (POET) program and directed the Clinical Trials Unit at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. 
  • While at the University of Calgary, Gwyn founded and directed a provincial lung cancer database (the Glans Look Lung Cancer Database) to examine the association between real world patient outcomes and molecular markers being studied in his research lab. 
  • Gwyn’s experience also includes clinical practice as a Medical Oncologist focused on lung and gastrointestinal cancers.

A fluent Welsh speaker, Gwyn earned his undergraduate degree in Natural Science from the University of Cambridge, England; his medical degree from the University of Oxford, England; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Molecular Pathology from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.

What drew you to focus on oncology?

Most people I speak to who’ve been practicing oncologists or hematologists have some personal experience with cancer that has driven their career forward. The experience of losing a brother and grandmother at an early age and several friends thereafter wakened my awareness of what cancer takes away from families and individuals. The drive and the need to make a difference is always there for me. 

I want to change our ability to treat cancer. I want to be able to offer multiple treatment options rather than having to say there aren’t any options. I think it’s a mixture of personal experience and curiosity about the molecular causes of cancer that has always made oncology the specialty I’ve been drawn to and have enjoyed being involved with over the past 30 years.

What are your priorities in the next six months?

Clearly there are a number of things to achieve in the first six months. I’ll get to know my colleagues and the team, as well as understand our business model and how Parexel works. I’m also interested in understanding how Parexel is perceived by our customers compared with our competition. It will be important to clarify our vision related to our oncology business and define the key metrics we’ll use to measure ourselves. We can then focus on our strategy and where we’re going.

What are the largest areas of opportunity for drug development in oncology?

With an aging population, the incidence of cancer is increasing. At the early end of the spectrum, we’ve increased our use of technology and availability of screening programs to detect cancers earlier. At the other end, we have more treatment options for patients who have metastatic disease. An unprecedented number of compounds are under development by pharma and biotech, so many that it’s difficult to imagine the required number of trials to demonstrate efficacy. It’s a huge opportunity. We also have the challenge of creating more inclusive clinical trials, making trials more attractive to patients who are underserved by research and by medical practice. It will be important that we find ways to embrace new technology in helping us achieve these goals. 

At Parexel, we do everything With HeartTM. How are you thinking about that in terms of your new role?

I think the heart denotes emotion and passion. I’m a big rugby fan; just as a rugby team trains and practices in preparation for games, once on the field the team needs passion to execute the game plan and drive excellence. I think that’s what doing things with heart means. At Parexel, our passion is derived from wanting to help patients. While we market ourselves to customers, advancing patient health is what we strive for. We have to be relentlessly patient-focused in everything we do. That will be the key to our success.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I enjoy spending time with my kids. I follow Liverpool Football Club (soccer) and the Welsh rugby team. And I like photography, gardening as well as Welsh, British and Roman history.
 

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