CXO Series – Brian Meshkin, Founder & President at Proove Biosciences shares valuable insight regarding his role as a visionary leader and challenges faced by bio technology firms…
Brian founded Proove in 2009 and currently serves as CEO. With over 20 years of life science experience, Brian has specialized in digital health using new technologies to influence healthcare decisions and improve outcomes. A social entrepreneur with a focus on society’s most pressing social problems, Brian is an ambitious and persistent leader who lays out Proove’s vision and continues to lead the company with dramatic revenue growth, disruptive technological innovations, and a robust pipeline.
Recently, Brian was honored as one of Orange County’s Finalists for the 2016 Association for Corporate Growth’s Annual Awards and the 2015 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.. He has also won the 2016 Orange County Business Journal’s Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award as well as being a repeat winner of the SmartCEO Future 50 Award by SmartCEO Magazine.
A published author with over 16 publications in peer-reviewed medical journals, Brian brings a passion for research and patient quality of life. Previously, he founded a nutritional genetics company called Salugen (acquired by Sherbrooke Equity), led new products and marketing for Prometheus Laboratories (acquired by Nestle), managed digital health for Johnson & Johnson’s largest product, and was a team leader in digital health for Eli Lilly & Company’s e.Lilly Venture Fund.
Sajid Khan: Brian, thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule for this interview. Can you begin by sharing your perspective on the role of President at Proove Biosciences, Inc.?
Brian Meshkin: I am in a unique position as the founder, President, and owner of Proove Biosciences. This requires a combination of transitional leadership as the visionary of the enterprise, and a measure of transactional leadership ensuring effective management, processes, and accountability. Fortunately, there aren’t many jobs at Proove that I haven’t done myself, and so it allows me to understand and connect with people across the Company – whether they are involved in conducting research, performing intake, billing, customer service, or sales.
SK: In your opinion, what have been some of the biggest challenges faced by biotechnology and genetic testing during the last few years?
Brian: Over the last few years, genetic testing has undergone a disproportionate amount of scrutiny over reimbursement. A therapeutic agent is reimbursed by payers without any regard to whether it is more effective than the standard of care, and independent of whether it is a more cost-effective approach than non-pharmacologic agents or alternative treatments. A device is reimbursed by payers in much the same way. But for some reason, a diagnostic is measured by a higher standard – a standard that not only requires accuracy of the testing and validity that the test correlates with a biological condition or outcome, but diagnostic testing providers must demonstrate a measure of utility that the physician who independently determines what to do with the diagnostic information actually uses it appropriately and that use results in a better outcome. If therapeutics, devices, or any other source of healthcare information such as risk management, claims management, insurance formularies, medical society guidelines or the like were held to the same standard, there would likely be an uproar. This inconsistency has placed a measure of undue pressure on genetic testing and likely restricted the overall benefits of their use in clinical practice.
SK: Would you like to share some of your key initiatives since the establishment of Proove Biosciences back in 2009?
Brian: Over the past six years, our key initiatives have involved establishing a patent-protected bioinformatics platform which drives our award-winning research into the genetics of pain and pain treatment, as well as the new products that the platform has produced. Over the past six years, we have presented hundreds of studies in posters, or from the podium at leading meetings in pain management, addiction, and anesthesia across the United States. Proove has been blessed to receive awards and recognitions for this research from the American Academy of Neurology, the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, the American Society of Regional Anesthesia, and others. This robust research has produced proprietary products that are saving patients’ lives, improving clinical outcomes, and reducing costs to our healthcare system. Proove Pain Perception is a proprietary, patented molecular information assay that helps physicians objectively assess a patient’s pain sensitivity – rather than relying on a 0 to 10 scale that can be very subjective. This proprietary test is supported by publications in leading peer-reviewed journals, such as the journal Pain, Science, Nature, Human Molecular Genetics, and others. Proove Opioid Risk is a proprietary, patented molecular information assay that helps physicians stratify patient risk for misusing opioid pain medications – the leading cause of injury death in America according to the CDC, the leading cause of death among teenagers, and a cause of addiction and death that is three times the size of all illegal narcotics such as cocaine and heroin. These are just two of the eight assays we currently have clinically available today.
SK: How effective is Proove Biosciences in innovating and where do you see your company by the year 2020?
Brian: Proove is highly effective at innovating. Proove is the commercial and research leader in the field of molecular diagnostics in pain. We have consistently presented industry-leading research at all of the major pain medicine meetings, and have received awards and recognitions from the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, the American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine, the American Academy of Neurology, and others. Through our extensive investment in research and development, we have proprietary genetic tests, and our bioinformatics system and methods are protected by three issued US patents and additional patents pending. By the year 2020, if we do our job well, then the name of our company “Proove” becomes more than a noun, but it becomes a verb synonymous with the action of personalized medicine as doctors “proove” the diagnosis and “proove” the treatment.
SK: What’s been your greatest achievement in your career thus far?
Brian: I think my greatest achievement in my career thus far has been starting and growing Proove to the heights it is today, while maintaining a successful marriage and helping raise our three amazing kids. I started Proove in the depths of the Great Recession with limited resources at the end of 2009, while having my wife attend law school when we had three young kids in elementary school, serving as an elected member of our county’s Board of Education, and flying across the country to grow the business. You couldn’t have placed too many more challenges in our way, but Proove has risen to become an unparalleled success, and despite all of the sacrifices and challenges, I am proud of my marriage, and the fact that we have three amazing kids who will turn 15, 13, and 10 years old this year.
SK: What is your leadership style? Does it vary within the role?
Brian: My leadership style is clearly to coach and inspire, and then allow those I lead to work through and formulate the details of how to implement. Then as I continue to support and facilitate the implementation, I work with them to support their efforts and help measure their progress. How this is done really depends on who I am leading and what I am hoping to achieve, and so thus, it does vary.
SK: What advice would you offer to our readers who aspire to follow in your footsteps?
Brian: When starting a business, don’t try to do it based on a hypothesis or “if…then” statement. So many entrepreneurs say, “if” I can do this or that, “then” I will be able to do this or that. Such a hypothesis makes your business an experiment subject to conditions. Success has never been a condition, it has been a destination for me. Eliminate the “ifs” and focus on how to incrementally do the “thens”. By doing this, you won’t wait to do what is necessary to succeed.
SK: Is there anything else you would like to share with other fellow C-level executives?
Brian: Not particularly. I find it a great honor to be a C-level executive and work with such amazing people who are unified in achieving such an important mission. At Proove, everyone is united in our purpose and desire to provide the proof to improve the healthcare decisions in the nation’s most prevalent and most expensive healthcare condition – pain. I’m sure many other C-level executives also effectively lead their teams with missions and purpose, and I am just grateful to be a part of such an enterprise.