Salt Lake City, Utah
First-mover: Mark Capone leads groundbreaking molecular diagnostics efforts that promise to change medicine
Because Myriad Genetics was founded ten years before the human genome project was published, Capone, President and CEO of Myriad Genetics, can make a great argument as to why Myriad Genetics is a leader in the molecular diagnostics industry.
“We truly are the pioneers in the field and certainly one of the companies with the longest history and successful track record in the field of molecular diagnostics,” Capone says.
A successful spin-off from the University of Utah, today Myriad Genetics' products help people answer four clinical questions -- will I get a disease, do I have a disease, should I treat this disease and if so how? -- in six medical specialties:
- Preventive Care
Capone is particularly proud of their products which can identify a patient’s risk of developing a hereditary cancer.
“Our product helps answer the question: will I get cancer at some point in the future?” Capone says. “Our product evaluates 25 different genes and assesses the cancer risk for eight different hereditary cancers.” A patient can then take steps to reduce their chances of developing that cancer, sometimes by over 90 percent.
Challenges: Capone outlined four challenges faced by Myriad Genetics. Though its products can be life-changing, Myriad Genetics does face an up-hill battle in educating doctors about their products. “Our biggest challenge is helping people understand how it can be incorporated into their practice,” Capone says. “This molecular diagnostics technology is not something they studied in medical school. It’s new, and there is an educational curve."
"We need to help doctors understand how our products can improve clinical practice and patient care.” Capone says. A second challenge is obtaining reimbursement for their innovations. “This requires substantial amount of work,” adds Capone. “We have to convince payers that the value is worth the cost.” Third, public policy: determining and working toward the appropriate level of federal regulation. “And our last challenge is making sure our intellectual property is adequately protected through patents and other approaches to ensure that public policy is aligned with the appropriate level of incentives to faciliate investment in research and the next generation of innovative products.”
Opportunities: In 2016, Myriad Genetics is leading in the area of prostate cancer, with a product called Prolaris. “The tools physicians have been using are so blunt,” Capone explains. A patient suffering from prostate cancer previously has been unable to know whether their cancer was aggressive. With Prolaris , physicians can predict the patient’s prostate cancer’s level of aggressiveness and tailor treatment plans to individual patients.
Needs: Without question, Capone believes Myriad Genetics’ greatest challenge is obtaining and keeping excellent talent. “That’s where it starts,” he says. “Any business like ours requires talented employees. We need access to the best, the most talented people. That is the most important thing.” While Capone believes Salt Lake City is a fantastic place to do business, working in a state with near full employment is a challenge. “We are delighted to be here,” Capone says. “The people of Utah have a strong work ethic, a high level of talent as well as a high level of commitment. But there are only so many employees. We need to attract talent into the valley so that we can continue to grow. Once people are exposed to Utah, we are successfully able to attract them to working here. But getting them to make that first visit is a challenge that we face. We need to get better at telling out story in Utah. We need to get better about telling people what a great place Utah is to live and work.”