Harvard University - Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology


Professor of Management Practice, Harvard Business School

Email: vsato@hbs.edu
Phone: 617-495-8162

Mail: Harvard Business School, Morgan Hall 492

Harvard Business School Faculty Profile Page


MCB 192. Principles of Drug Discovery and Development
Catalog Number: 2188  View Course Website
Term: [Spring Term .]
Instructors: Vicki Sato, Gregory Verdine
Course Level: For Undergraduates and Graduates
Description: This interdisciplinary course will examine the process of drug discovery and development through disease-driven examples. Topics include: the efficacy/toxicity balance, the differences between drugs and inhibitors, and the translation of cellular biochemistry to useful medicine.
Note: May not be taken concurrently with SCRB 192. May not be taken for credit if SCRB 192 has already been taken.
Prerequisite(s): MCB 60 or MCB 52 and one year of organic chemistry.
Meetings: Tu., Th., 11:30-1
(View all MCB Courses)


For almost 25 years, I have worked inside biotechnology companies (primarily Biogen, now BiogenIdec, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals), leading both research and development, and business functions. This has involved everything from devising the long-term research strategy to implementing the multiyear, interdisciplinary research and medicine that are required for successful drug evaluation and commercialization. Much of my time has been spent in the areas of infectious disease, immune modulation and oncology, and some drugs from these programs are now on the market (Avonex and Tysabri for multiple sclerosis, Amevive for psoriasis, Angiomax for acute thrombotic episodes, Lexiva for HIV infection and AIDS) while others are in clinical development (VX 950 for hepatitis C, VX 680 for oncology, VX 702 for rheumatoid arthritis, VX 770 for Cystic Fibrosis, VX 409 for pain management). My interests continue in these areas, and also in the greater understanding of what kinds of science would improve the certainty of successful drug development.

I now work with young companies exploring new technologies like RNAi as novel therapeutic modalities, and companies exploiting new insights into biochemical pathways like heat shock proteins and hedgehog to design new drugs for cancer. I am also very interested in the management and leadership skills that are necessary to run small and large companies that aspire to bring new drugs to market, and am part of a new initiative at HBS to study these issues and to build new educational approaches.

updated: 10/09/2018