Executive Vice President Nick Amarante Tapped to Join Board of Advisors for Life Science Cares

Life Science Cares leverages some of the most brilliant minds in the life science industry to take on one of the most important social issues of our time—poverty. Raising millions of dollars and tens of thousands of volunteer hours, with real-world, hands-on community support from its members, Life Science Cares’ mission is to provide immediate and long-term basic needs, education and opportunity for our neighbors living in poverty in our own backyard.

We’re proud to recognize Executive Vice President of HM Science, Nick Amarante, who was recently appointed to the Board of Advisors for Life Science Cares Boston, based on his personal passion to help others and desire to continue to enact positive change in his local community.

“While the Life Sciences sector drives incredible breakthroughs in medical technology, improving countless lives, it’s stark to see so many in our own communities struggling,” said Nick. “This dissonance fuels my passion for Life Science Cares, an organization bridging the gap by connecting life sciences professionals and industry service providers like us with impactful volunteer opportunities right here in Boston. I’m thrilled to join my peers in giving back and making a tangible difference in our community.”

Life Science Cares was created to bring awareness to the issues of inequity and poverty throughout our communities, in cities like Boston, San Diego, San Francisco, Philadelphia and New York. They create grants for local charities and nonprofits to offer their support via donations, fundraising, volunteer events such as food drives and countless others. Companies small and large in the biotech space have opportunities to gather their team and make a difference through these events and programs.

Our core value #8 (generously give to others) is one that we are proud to live out in our day-to-day lives and our HM Science team is looking forward to spending time with one another volunteering at various events supported by Life Science Cares. As Nick said, “we love this community, and we want to do our part in giving back and helping those in need.”

Navigating Triangle Lab Space—What Tenants Need to Know

In 2022, the Research Triangle region in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was declared to be the fourth leading hub for biotech in the U.S., behind Boston, San Francisco and San Diego. Some of the biggest names in pharma have a presence there—including Novo Nordisk, Purdue Pharma, GSK, Merck, Amgen, Biogen and Pfizer—and while the area boasts “the world’s largest cluster of CROs,” coming in 4th place may have more to do with the lack of true lab-ready real estate than overall size of the market.

Unlike its biotech counterparts in other cities, the approximate 10.6 million square feet of R&D lab space in the Raleigh-Durham market still has nominal availability. The three research universities which give the “Triangle” its name—Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University—play a vital role in the life science ecosystem. The companies which spin out of these institutions play a material role in keeping both the sublease market and direct available lab space low. For the most part, increases in remote work don’t really play a role in this sector. In other major life science markets, a combination of lab facilities being overdeveloped, record high fundings and companies grabbing any space they could for planned future growth (which is now back on the market via sublease or default) have led to record-high availability. Not yet the case in the Triangle.

“Raleigh-Durham is considered one of the major biotech hubs, but in comparison to markets like Boston and San Diego, we are not as large and haven’t experienced the market shifts on the same scale,” says Edwin Yarbrough, executive vice president of Hughes Marino, who founded the firm’s Raleigh-Durham office. “In a recent life science sublease report we prepared, we found that while other cities have millions of square feet on the market, we didn’t. We had four subleases and a few spec suites. We’re seeing these numbers increase but nowhere near what we see in San Diego and Boston.”

Getting Ready as New Space Comes Online

The Triangle is a unique market where almost every single-story “flex” building carries a “R&D/Lab” label. Some have been converted by experienced life science landlords, some are just proposed R&D space by landlords who want “in on the action” and some fall in between. Biotech and life science companies looking to renew leases, secure new space, expand, contract or renegotiate existing leases in the Triangle need an experienced advisor to help navigate the offerings and leverage available options—so they can act quickly when the right space and opportunity presents itself.

With limited options—particularly for companies looking for new spaces with extra amenities like coffee bars, food services, breweries, rooftop decks and fitness facilities, or even GMP-ready lab spaces with the requisite HVAC, plumbing, ceiling height and electrical—it’s essential to have someone who has a detailed understanding of the options, availability and landlords tenants will rely on to operate these critical high functioning buildings.

Despite seeing weakened demand, new R&D space continues to come online mostly in the RTP/I-40 corridor. The Triangle region’s first high-rise lab building, known as Via Labs, will be part of a gleaming central hub in RTP known as HUB RTP. Via Labs will reach eight stories high and feature 265,000 square feet of highly amenitized R&D space.

The developer, Longfellow Real Estate Partners, is awaiting an anchor tenant to begin construction on the $1.5B project, but it points to the future vision of RTP being a much more dense, multi-use urban environment offering everything from housing to retail and restaurants, in addition to ample lab and workspace.

With lab space still at a premium, says Yarbrough, companies looking to renew, relocate, contract or expand to (or within) the Triangle need a knowledgeable advisor to navigate the landscape and understand the delta between what is publicly offered and where transactions actually end up after well executed negotiations. “Part of the value we bring to the table is being able to identify spaces that are off-market but may come online soon or have existing tenants in place looking for an exit. It is critical to work with someone who has those relationships and knows the full landscape, while providing objective, conflict-free advice. It’s imperative to have a strong negotiator and advisor that will challenge the status quo, especially in an environment that is changing weekly to be more favorable for tenants. Windshield mindset vs. rearview mirror.”

Beyond finding the space, life science and biotech clients also need expertise to secure the best terms and transaction structure. “There is so much capital investment made into the infrastructure of these lab spaces,” Yarbrough says. “Who provides what is negotiated heavily.” Hughes Marino specializes in working on behalf of the tenant to ensure the landlord or developer will support the necessary high-cost improvements, including updates to heating and cooling systems, ventilation systems, plumbing and waste systems and electrical systems, before any tenant dollars are applied. “Scientists who are founders and CEOs are no match for professional landlords in the world of real estate transactions, what they can negotiate, and who is financially responsible for what. How do we maximize our client’s negotiated tenant improvement allowance? How do we keep our client’s capital investment into the space as low as possible? What can we do to improve the bottom line so our clients can invest more into research and recruiting top talent? These are the questions we constantly think about,” he adds.

North Carolina’s Mini Cambridge

Over the past decade or more, downtown Durham has evolved into a highly desirable “mini Cambridge,” says Yarbrough, with companies, startups and academic institutions working at the intersection of science and technology, as well as a thriving arts scene, nightlife, walkable streets and world-class restaurants.

A $500M 10-acre new Heritage Square development with two towers is currently in the works and will offer luxury housing, Class A office and lab space, plus retail and restaurants. It’s the first piece in a multi-step development project. In addition, Longfellow is anxiously awaiting to break ground on a new 200K SF lab building as part of their Durham ID master plan.

There are also 21 new developments, according to a 2023 State of Downtown Durham report, which will add more than 2,300 new housing units to the downtown. And the city is increasing pedestrian-friendly improvements, like a park and Durham Rails Trail. This trail will be an important part of the larger 3,000 miles East Coast Greenway that stretches from Maine to Florida.

While Durham may not yet have reached “Cambridge levels,” there’s significant interest and real momentum happening along with continued development and improvements that make it a real draw for startups and biotech companies looking to be part of the excitement.

With the right real estate partner, and enough time to run a proven process, says Yarbrough, companies can secure both great space and terms, allowing them to create the culture to attract, recruit and retain world-class talent.

“As the case with any real estate project, it’s always better to start sooner rather than later,” he says. “Start the process at least two years out—don’t wait until the last year of the lease. Allowing time to force decisions rarely results in the desired outcomes.”

Breakthroughs: Six of the Most Important Themes in Cancer Research

HM Science, the life science division of Hughes Marino, hosted two of the nation’s brightest minds in cancer research—Cigall Kadoch, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Toni Choueiri, M.D., Director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary (GU) Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Jerome and Nancy Kohlberg Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School—to discuss the most pertinent themes in cancer research today. Here is a recap of their discussion, which was moderated by Jarrett Collins, President of the Pan-Mass Challenge.

When you ask two of Boston’s leading oncology researchers about their professional challenges, it can be hard to anticipate how they might respond. After all, isn’t everything about their profession—striving to cure cancer—challenging?

In an intimate setting with other life science investors and executives at The ‘Quin House in Boston, Drs. Cigall Kadoch and Toni Choueiri brought the room to the edge of their seats. They humbly described how emotionally difficult it is to witness incredibly sick patients wait for new therapies. Kadoch reflected on her own impatience, “While we’re getting better at identifying targets and the mechanisms by which they promote cancer, the overall process of advancing medicines to patients is a very costly and time intensive endeavor.” Simply put, researchers feel the pressing need for maximum efficiency and it can be challenging to wait.

Dr. Choueiri echoed a similar struggle. While he thrives in the excitement of advancing research and witnessing his work save precious human lives, he is discouraged when he engages in hospice discussions. Despite extraordinary advances in cancer therapies, the discussion of end-of-life care still happens with youthful patients, even at the prestigious Dana-Farber Cancer Institute with worldwide leaders in oncology.

The room fell silent, quickly empathizing with the incredible burden Drs. Kadoch and Choueiri must carry as they navigate coming up with novel therapies. But perhaps this was the perfect segue to turn the audience’s attention to positive news—how far researchers have come in advancing cancer therapies. Drs. Kadoch and Choueiri shifted the direction of the conversation to the most promising research themes, and where biotech and pharmaceutical professionals, as well as investors, should hone their focus. Here are the six most impactful takeaways from their conversation.

This is a dream, but I believe that this dream is within reach. By the time my great grandchildren are adults, my hope is that cancer will not exist.

Dr. Toni Choueiri

An understanding of cancer genomes has changed the landscape of oncology research.

According to Dr. Kadoch, we’re in a particularly exciting era, as merely a decade and a half or so ago, scientists began efforts to sequence cancer genomes. This helps researchers pinpoint the genetic alterations or mutations present in the very DNA of cancer cells and learn which mutations may be responsible for the development, progression, and therapy resistance features of human cancer. She firmly stated, “Genetics is the ultimate experiment and doesn’t lie. It tells us the hard-wired, contributing factors that underlie a given disease.” She continued, “Beyond informing the genetic makeup of a tumor, sequencing-based technologies can reveal, in a high throughput manner, the vulnerabilities of cancers, which can link genetic abnormality, tissue type, gene expression programs and other features to specific targets. Such targets may already have drugs developed against them, or, they prompt us to work toward developing them.”

Scientists are on the cusp of leveraging protein regions for therapeutic benefit.

According to Kadoch, about 40% of cellular proteins, including many involved in cancer, cannot be seen or visualized, meaning their functions are largely still mysterious even to leading bench scientists. This is particularly true for proteins in the nucleus of our cells, governing which of our 20,000 genes scattered across ~6 feet of total DNA are turned on and off. But there’s good news—the surges in cancer genetic sequencing coupled with new strategies for examining protein structures and resolving the functions of “unstructured” regions are beginning to surface and transition toward therapeutic evaluation in patients. Kadoch sees unique types of nuclear protein interactions in cells as promising areas of ongoing research with an eye toward drug development.

Researchers are pursuing synergy in cancer therapies, as well as refining biologic doses.

Dr. Choueiri emphasized that combining therapies is often the most effective approach for treating cancer. “This is how we cured TB. This is how we cured HIV, and this is how we cured some of the aggressive cancers, such as leukemia. It’s rare that one drug on its own works, depending even for tumors driven seemingly by one alteration in the DNA.” But now that therapies have been refined, and there have been great strides in how well they are tolerated by patients, physicians are able to combine them and achieve better outcomes.

In addition, Dr. Choueiri shed light on the advancement of biologic doses. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which primarily aims to kill rapidly dividing cells, on-target biologic therapies work by interfering with specific molecular pathways or by harnessing the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells. Dr. Choueiri shared that researchers are enhancing dosing approaches for biologics, and these improvements can limit side effects for patients as well as increase the effectiveness of therapies.

Precision medicine has improved the type and dosing of medications for cancer patients, thereby limiting side effects.

Dr. Choueiri also discussed the incredible impact of precision medicine in treating patients. Advances in genomic and molecular profiling have enabled oncologists to tailor cancer treatments—be they different types or their timing and doses—to a patient’s specific tumor characteristics. Genetic testing and biomarker analysis help in identifying specific mutations or alterations that may predict response to targeted therapies. Overall, precision medicine is aiming to maximize treatment efficacy while minimizing side effects by selecting the most appropriate drugs and dosages for each and every patient.

Artificial Intelligence and computational biology have had a profound impact on cancer research—and will continue to do so.

It is safe to say that researchers have more data at their fingertips than ever before. Empowered by the high-efficiency, parallel computing approaches central to AI, cancer datasets generated both locally and internationally can now be used for maximum benefit. As examples, such approaches can be used to detect cancer earlier—perhaps even at its earliest stages—and hence treat it more effectively. Just recently, machine learning models have been used to detect subtle abnormalities on routine imaging tests such as CTs and MRIs that might be missed by human radiologists, leading to earlier diagnosis and treatment.

In addition, AI can now play a crucial role in interpreting tumor genetic sequencing results from hundreds of thousands of tumors simultaneously and predicting their ramifications on cell behavior. This can help researchers use “gene and gene expression signatures” to predict treatment responses, and guide the selection of targeted therapies based on a patient’s individual tumor type—in essence, the concept of “personalized medicine.” It can also help researchers analyze the tumor microenvironment, including immune cell interactions, which is critical for developing immunotherapies and understanding tumor progression.

Finally, computational biology, including AI, can expedite the drug discovery process. AI models can predict how molecules will interact with specific proteins or inhibit cancer-related pathways, helping researchers identify potential drug candidates more efficiently.

The bottom line: There is incredible hope for the future of cancer research.

Drs. Choueiri and Kadoch left the audience with tremendous optimism for the future. They shared a vision for stamping out cancer through early identification and novel treatment strategies that grow directly out of academic research. Whether it’s by studying cancer genomes, dissecting specific regions of proteins, or by applying AI and computational biology to detect disease earlier and treat it more effectively—researchers have more powerful tools available now than ever before. For these Dana-Farber researchers, these tools and advances in research are made possible via financial support from the Pan-Mass Challenge, which has raised close to $1B for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute since its launch in 1980.

Support from the Pan-Mass Challenge is transformative. These unrestricted funds placed trustingly into the hands of our basic and clinical researchers inspire innovation and potentiate the discovery of new cancer therapies.

Dr. Cigall Kadoch

In fact, research has taken such strides—and the future is so promising—that it could transform Dana-Farber Cancer Institute as an organization. Dr. Choueiri paraphrased his CEO Dr. Laurie Glimcherwhen he said, “In the next decade or more, Dana-Farber is not going to be where patients with cancer go. It’s going to be the place you go to so that you don’t have cancer.” Now that would be the dream, indeed.

Cigall Kadoch, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School and Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Toni Choueiri, M.D., Director of the Lank Center for Genitourinary (GU) Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Jerome and Nancy Kohlberg Professorof Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Challenge Accepted: At Hughes Marino, Exceeding Limits is Part of the DNA

Cultivating a High-Performing Team Mindset

Even coming face-to-face with a moose on a wooded trail while out on a winter run in Park City didn’t deter Owen Rice, executive vice president at Hughes Marino, from planning even more challenging and remote adventures.

He’ll soon head to north central Washington to traverse 30 miles, summit two peaks within a 24-hour span and ride 50 miles with a friend to Mt. Timpanogos, for a 12,000-foot climb followed by another 50-mile bike ride home.

Rice is an experienced mountain climber and an ultra-endurance trail runner. He typically places among the top 10 for races like the recent Sawtooth Ridge 50 miler in Washington, where he ran up 16,000 feet of elevation gain in over 90-degree heat.

“It was insanely remote,” notes Rice, who is based in the company’s Seattle office. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I don’t listen to music when I run,” he says. “I get out in the mountains—I love being on a trail in the Cascades totally off the grid. That’s where I de-stress.”

Executive vice president, Owen Rice, pushing himself to the extremes while competing in the Sawtooth Ridge 50 miler in North Cascades in Washington State.

For Rice, ultra runs on difficult mountain trails has nothing to do with collecting “likes” on social media or tracking his stats, and everything to do with pushing himself beyond his limits. It is about building his physical and mental resilience so he’s able to withstand any challenge.

It’s a mindset he shares with numerous team members at Hughes Marino, who say that pushing their physical limits makes them a more focused and driven team. In fact, there are so many Hughes Marino super athletes, it has become an intrinsic part of the company’s DNA.

They include among their ranks several world-class skiers; a former pro golfer and football player; several former collegiate baseball, football, basketball and tennis players and an all-American swimmer; ultra marathoners; triathletes and Ironman competitors; and a race car driver.

The Mental Toughness Mindset

“There’s definitely an association,” says Shay Hughes, president and COO of Hughes Marino. “Our team is high performing. They really thrive on extreme challenges and mental toughness.”

“Whenever you’re doing hard things, part of your brain wants to quit,” says Rice. “It’s easy to say ‘I’m done.’ Once you’ve completed it, the feeling of accomplishment transcends to the following weeks, months and years. Anytime you are faced with challenges, you can draw on these experiences, and say ‘I did that 50 miler or 100 miler, I can certainly do this.’”

Working alongside Rice in Hughes Marino’s Seattle office, senior vice president Derek Pedersen shares a similar desire to push himself to new physical feats. He is drawn to ultra competitive challenges—activities that, as he describes, “few people can or will do” and trains seven days a week, as much as 20 hours a week.

As with Rice, Pedersen says that his ability to endure challenges—which have included a 100-mile run over 25 non-stop hours, three 50K races with two top-five finishes and a full Ironman (140.6 miles) where he placed 274th out of 1,171—has given him incredible focus and a winning mindset. “An easy life fashions a mind that can only handle ease,” Pedersen says. “A challenging life builds a mind that can handle challenge. Sometimes you have to force the suffering to create a hardened mind.”

Inspiration Creates Motivation

Anna Quattlebaum, vice president of Hughes Marino in the Denver office, is a lifetime athlete and soccer player. In addition to competing in three different co-ed soccer leagues, she’s ran a marathon, a 10K, two Spartan obstacle races and is training for a half marathon in Moab, Utah, this fall with friends and coworkers. “Staying active and feeling physically strong is really important to me,” Quattlebaum says. She says the Hughes Marino team’s commitment to health and fitness contributes to a culture driven toward personal and professional success.

“It’s inspiring to be around a group of people who genuinely want to continue to be even just 1% better in every aspect of their lives,” she says. “I think having my own fitness goals, whether that’s through soccer, summiting a new tough hike or completing a race or obstacle competition, always feeds into my desire to be better in my professional role. Being surrounded by people who want to achieve only motivates me more.”

Hughes Marino vice president, Anna Quattlebaum, leaps over a fire obstacle at a Spartan race.

All that collective energy among offices, teams and cities at Hughes Marino is a constant motivator, agrees Greg Paugh, a senior advisor in Hughes Marino’s Denver office. “It’s something you can’t fake,” he says. “It’s ingrained in our company culture, and you can see that all the way down to our core values.”

Those ten core values are: always do the right thing, deliver excellence in everything we do, enjoy the journey, embrace the family spirit, build lasting relationships built on trust, nurture your personal and professional life, pursue growth and learning, generously give to others, proactively communicate and be authentic, grateful and humble. “I’ve never been a part of such a collaborative and encouraging group of people and that energy is contagious,” he says.

Support Comes From Everywhere

In June, Paugh completed the Lead Challenge—a daunting multi-day endurance race performed at 10,000-foot elevation in the Rocky Mountains that covers 282.4 miles and includes a trail marathon, a 50-mile run, a 100-mile mountain bike race, a 10K trail run and a 100-mile trail run. Less than half the participants even finish the race.

Paugh said the intense training and racing logistics— including planning for travel, food and aid stations—made him truly appreciate the importance of a supportive team. “My wife, Schuyler, took on a lot to be crew captain,” he said. “There’s no way I would have been able to do this without her help and support at every step along the way.”

Paugh has a long bucket list of other strenuous races he’d like to tackle, including the Steamboat gravel bike race, Ironman triathlons, the Rut 50K in Montana and the Pikes Peak ascent and marathon combo. But he also takes the time to physically and emotionally shift gears and enjoy backpacking, bike riding and less strenuous hikes before ski season starts.

It’s not about the specific practice, says Rice, but about setting a challenge—maybe even one that seems unattainable—and making a dedicated effort. It could be climbing a mountain, or doing a cold plunge every morning, or reading 100 books.

“Even if you don’t succeed, the fact that you tried is an accomplishment in and of itself,” he says.

Enjoying the Journey

It’s a mindset shared by competitive runner Kevin Hogan, vice president in the Los Angeles office, who says his favorite Hughes Marino core value is “enjoy the journey.”

“Races are exhilarating and an incredible opportunity to test the limits of your physical and mental endurance, but my true love and obsession lies with the daily grind that gets you there,” says Hogan. “From the 4am alarm, to the pitch-black runs, to the empty gym in the morning, to all of the effort and focus around strength training, stretching, recovery, sleep and nutrition—I love it all. Eventually, when I do cross a finish line, I think back to all the workouts and sacrifices I made along the way when nobody was watching, and how the journey was more rewarding than the destination.”

A lifelong athlete, Hogan realized the true potential of his running ability during the pandemic, quickly escalating from eight miles, to half marathons, to marathons. He’s now raced two of the six major world marathons—NYC and Boston—and ran Boston at an impressively fast 2:43, placing 700th out of 30,000 runners. This race was even more memorable as Hogan competed alongside his brother, who placed 70th with a time of 2:27. Being able to share this experience is one he will never forget.

Vice president, Kevin Hogan, seen finishing the 2022 Boston Marathon with an incredible time of 2:43.

There is an ever-present need for improvement, breaking through to the next level and accomplishment. What you see with our team is that success builds momentum—they draft and push each other to great things.

Hogan plans to run the Chicago marathon in October. But with a new baby in the family, Hogan says he’s not sure exactly how he’ll juggle training and sleeping to get prepared. His ability to share these big life moments with his family and the larger Hughes Marino team has been an incredible experience.

“There are a lot of parallels between running and our professional careers,” Hogan says, “and I’m very fortunate to work for a company that recognizes that and celebrates it, and to work alongside colleagues who share the same passion and values.”

John Jarvis, executive vice president in the Hughes Marino San Diego office, recently lived out a lifelong surfing dream with his son—catching a wave that lasted 2km—or 1.2 miles— on a surfing trip in Puerto Malabrigo, Peru, on a famous surf break known as Chicama. Jarvis explains that Chicama is what’s known as a surf point left, which means that he and his son who both ride “goofy foot,” or standing with the left foot back, can face the wave as they ride.

It was the “trip of a lifetime” to experience the ultimate wave with his son, says Jarvis, who adds that surfing also connects him to the broader professional community and offers a way both to unwind and give back.

“The only way to make the kind of hard work we do sustainable is to balance it with an equally intense unplugged experience, which is what surfing does for me,” Jarvis says. “And in Southern California, there are a surprising number of professionals who surf.” He mentions the Luau and Legends of Surfing Invitational benefiting Moores Cancer Center at UC San Diego Health, which brings together life science executives who surf.

Executive vice president, John Jarvis, goes big on an epic recent father-son surf trip in Peru.

While there are a number of athletes looking to test their physical limits at Hughes Marino, there are many others who are just starting their fitness journeys, training for their first 10K race, heading out for their longest bike ride or joining colleagues for a challenging evening mountain hike to see the sunset.

Across the company, colleagues are inspired by their teammates’ stories, and feel supported by a company that celebrates one another for taking steps outside their comfort zone. Regardless of the scale of the physical feat, they feel emboldened to take a risk, to learn something new about themselves and to turn to colleagues for motivation, knowing that it’s not the medal, but the journey and the relationships along the way that really matter.