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The biopharma president

Patrick Sartore, BSc 96
November 6, 2023
By Samantha Rideout, GrDip 10

Portrait of a man in a striped, grey and black suit jacket and a pale blue dress shirt.

“There’s a big gap between an idea and a product that makes an impact in the real world,” says Patrick Sartore, who has built a career bridging that divide.

First, as a private-practice lawyer, Sartore helped his clients establish and defend intellectual property rights that are essential for bringing scientific innovation to the marketplace. He then worked for Univalor – now called Axelys – an investment vehicle that helped Canadian universities and hospitals commercialize research.

Sartore is now president of Liminal Biosciences, a publicly-traded company that develops small-molecule therapies for unmet medical needs. 

“I’ve spent a lot of time securing financings because these types of projects take huge amounts of resources to advance,” he explains. 

Theory meets practice at Concordia

“Concordia is good at helping students get practical experiences. As a psychology major, I volunteered in the psychiatry department at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. I appreciated the marriage of hands-on and academic learning.”

Breakthrough treatment

“A few years back, we produced a new plasma-derived treatment for hypoplasminogenemia, a rare disease for which there weren’t any approved treatments. Initially, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration turned down our application, but we rectified all issues and turned the situation around. By the time we reapplied, it was the COVID-19 pandemic and everyone was under lockdown. The FDA inspectors had to quarantine themselves in a hotel for two weeks before they could even get started.

In 2021, we sold our plasma-derived therapeutics business, including this product, to a company that is providing it to patients. I’m glad we persisted. We used to get emails from worried parents asking when it would be available, and now it’s finally out.”

Pride point

“Our team’s stamina. Pharmaceutical development and commercialization is a difficult industry. You’re competing with players who have budgets the size of small countries. Just to survive in this ocean of bigger fish is already an achievement. To get a drug approved and ensure it lands in the right hands to reach patients is a colossal task.”

Key to professional satisfaction

“Don’t focus on results alone because the process is where you will spend most of your time. Find ways to enjoy the process itself.”

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