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Marina Vassiliou

Managing Director & Vice President,
Biogen Canada

As medical science and technology march forward, the frontiers of research and treatment are also constantly shifting. Foremost among these new fields of research is the treatment of neurological disorders. 

Tens of millions of people around the world live with debilitating neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. There is also a wide array of less common neurological diseases like spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) that, while rare, have significant impact on patients and their families. These diseases can be heart-wrenchingly devastating. For example, many children born with the most aggressive form of SMA, do not live beyond the age of two. 

Promise for new medical breakthroughs

Biogen, a global biopharmaceutical company with a substantial Canadian presence, is the only major international biotechnology company completely focused on treating these neurological conditions and on improving outcomes for those who live with them. “Our focus has been on neurology because we believe that no other disease area holds as much promise for medical breakthroughs,” says Marina Vasiliou, General Manager of Biogen Canada. “With such significant unmet need in this space, Biogen is uniquely positioned to provide innovative solutions for patients.”

We are committed to […] innovative solutions in ensuring value-adding treatments gets to the patients in a sustainable way.

Marina Vasiliou, Biogen Canada

Founded in 1978 by a team of world-class scientists including two Nobel laureates, Biogen has spent four decades accumulating many of the best neurologists and neuroscientists on the planet into a diverse team in which 48% of leadership roles are held by women.

Changing lives

The results of such concentrated talent have been incredible. In 2016, Biogen launched the world’s first and unique effective treatment for SMA, dramatically changing the lives of Canadian families affected by this disease. Biogen has a portfolio of five distinct MS products currently on the market, and active trials and studies underway involving new therapies for Alzheimer’s, ALS, Parkinson’s, and other conditions. For the 3.6 million Canadians living with neurological disorders, this means a life of hope where not long ago there was none.

As Biogen continues to reinvest billions of dollars annually into research and development, including millions right here in Canada, they are also reaching out to stakeholders in the field from health care professionals to patient advocacy groups and decision makers in provincial and federal government. The goal is to bring everyone together with the common cause of reducing the impact of neurological disorders in Canada and around the world. “At Biogen, we have deep respect for the contribution of health care providers, and also family and friends, caring for people living with neurological diseases. We are committed to working closely with patient organizations and Governments to find innovative solutions in ensuring value-adding treatments gets to the patients in a sustainable way,” says Vasiliou.

Outreach and global leadership

Biogen’s outreach in Canada manifests in many ways. It shows in the partnerships created with universities like McGill, the University of Toronto, the University of British Columbia, and the University of Alberta. It shows also through their development of initiatives not traditionally considered the domain of pharmaceutical companies, such as their new mobile app Aby which provides much-needed support for patients living with MS.

Biogen, of course, is not the only company dedicating resources to developing cutting-edge therapies for neurological disorders, and that’s a good thing, but Biogen is leading the field, setting the highest standards, and raising a banner visible to all that says that these diseases are indeed treatable. That there is not only hope, but also tangible proof of progress.

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