Meet the 2018 Laureates: Barry Komm, PhD

Komm, Barry

Outstanding Innovation Award

Barry Komm, PhD

 

Barry Komm, PhD, has been investigating the role of estrogens and SERMs in the reproductive tract since 1982, when he was a post-doctoral fellow with Richard Lyttle at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1985, Dr. Komm moved to the University of Arizona, where he studied the role of estrogens in the maintenance of skeletal integrity, especially in relation to menopausal bone loss. Dr. Komm led a team responsible for demonstrating for the first time that estrogen receptors were expressed in bone and that the effect of estrogens on the skeleton was direct. Dr. Komm transitioned to the pharmaceutical industry in 1993 as one of the initial investigators in the newly designated Women’s Health Research Institute at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. One of his major goals was to develop the “ideal” SERM that would be used to treat osteoporosis, hot flashes, and vaginal atrophy, while not negatively affecting the uterus or breast — basically a one component, progestin-free hormone therapy for menopausal women. This work resulted in the development of the SERM bazedoxifene, via a coordinated program of basic science and clinical research at Wyeth. Bazedoxifene (Viviant® or Conbriza®) has been approved for the treatment of osteoporosis worldwide, except for the U.S., and the basic scientific research associated with this program expanded upon the scientific insight surrounding estrogens and SERMs. The ideal SERM pharmacologic profile was not achieved with bazedoxifene, so another approach was considered — the non-intuitive pairing of bazedoxifene with the complex mixture of natural estrogens known as Premarin®.

Dr. Komm led a team responsible for demonstrating for the first time that estrogen receptors were expressed in bone and that the effect of estrogens on the skeleton was direct.

Dr. Komm spearheaded the preclinical program that eventually resulted in a new paradigm for the treatment of menopausal symptoms and osteoporosis prevention and was the champion through the entire drug development pathway, culminating with worldwide approval and marketing of Duavee®. He challenged other experts in the field to endorse a new concept, supported new research to expand the scientific understanding of estrogens and SERMs, and demonstrated to physicians the uniqueness and applicability of Duavee to their practice.

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