“Letting go of nonproductive ideas is really important — no matter what you do,” says Lori Morton, vice president of research at Regeneron. This sound advice is absolutely critical in Morton’s line of work. She and her team of some 30 scientists work to “understand how diseases progress in human beings” in order to facilitate the development of effective new drugs, Morton explains.
And while filtering out failed hypotheses is key to Morton’s scientific process, her exacting methods have produced many breakthroughs, as well. Since joining Regeneron in 2002, Morton’s research (largely targeting heart failure and kidney disease) has contributed to the development of four innovative drugs.
Morton credits her mother, a science teacher, and her father, a nature lover, for sparking her keen interest in “understanding how the world works.” This passion led to Morton’s earning a PhD in genetics and molecular biology, and, ultimately, a career in pharmaceutical research as a way to make a life out of her pure longing for knowledge.
Despite the perceived competitive nature of the pharmaceutical industry, Morton stresses the importance of collaboration. “To support the process of making a novel medicine, you need the combined intellect of a very large number of people,” she explains. This brain trust should include clinical researchers and medical personnel, academics, and even researchers at other drug companies, insists Morton, who encourages wide-scale knowledge sharing. The resulting large pool of “big data,” leads to “more shots on goal,” says Morton, paving the way for advancements that may ultimately save lives.