From Operating Room To Board Room: an Interview with Lexitas CEO George Magrath, M.D.

The following is a summary the Totally Clinical podcast with Dr. George Magrath, the CEO of Lexitas Pharma Services, a contract research organization focused on ophthalmic drug development.

What sets George apart is his dual role as a physician actively practicing medicine alongside his responsibilities as a CEO. This unique combination provides him with a patient-centric perspective that adds significant value to Lexitas’ work in advancing eyesight and ophthalmic drugs. George’s ability to seamlessly switch from performing surgeries to attending Zoom meetings in scrubs highlights his dedication to both patient care and pharmaceutical innovation. This dual-role approach gives him a profound understanding of patients’ needs and positions Lexitas to excel in the field.

George completed his medical education at the Medical University of South Carolina. He underwent an internship in general surgery, followed by an ophthalmology residency. His dedication to advancing ophthalmic care led him to pursue a fellowship at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, specializing in treating cancers in and around the eye. George’s motivation for this specialization stemmed from the lack of such expertise in South Carolina at the time, which meant patients had to travel great distances for treatment.

His career has been guided by a common thread: a relentless pursuit of improving patients’ lives through ophthalmic care. His journey has taken him from being a clinician and surgeon treating individual patients to developing medicines that can impact a larger patient population. He also took a role in equity research, where he helped fund promising technologies, aligning with his overarching goal of enhancing vision care.

Regarding Lexitas Pharma Services, George provides insights into the company’s mission and operations. The organization specializes in supporting ophthalmic companies at various stages of development, from conceptualization to regulatory approval and clinical trials. They collaborate with startups and multinational pharmaceutical companies, leveraging their expertise in ophthalmology to drive the success of innovative products and devices. Three key pillars that underpin Lexitas’ approach: ophthalmic specialization, deep stakeholder relationships, and a patient-centered focus. This trifecta allows Lexitas to deliver impactful clinical trials and positively impact patients’ lives on a global scale.

Shifting the conversation towards industry trends, George discusses the current landscape of clinical research and investment in biotech. He notes a recent softening of the market, attributing it to a lag behind changes in the investment community. However, he is optimistic that the situation is improving, with an uptick in funding and a resurgence of interest in clinical trials. He also acknowledges the role of large pharmaceutical companies in driving acquisitions and investment, which has particularly benefited therapeutic areas with stronger ties to big pharma.

When asked for advice for biotech startups seeking investment, George emphasizes the importance of generating early clinical data. He explains that there is a premium placed on clinical data, making it crucial for startups to showcase efficacy and safety to attract funding. He also discusses the potential of leveraging advanced imaging techniques in ophthalmology to provide insights into treatment efficacy and patient response, underscoring the potential of AI in this field.

George then delves into the challenges facing clinical research over the next few years. He highlights the workforce shortage, particularly at the site level, which can impact clinical trial execution. He also points out the importance of building patient trust in clinical trials, noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has influenced patient participation. Lastly, he advocates for greater precision medicine, where treatments are customized based on a patient’s specific pathophysiology, leading to more effective and targeted therapies.

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