Some call it the “Super Bowl” of health care meetings.
J.P. Morgan describes its 38th annual health care conference, now underway in San Francisco, as “the largest and most informative health care investment symposium in the industry, bringing together industry leaders, emerging fast-growth companies, innovative technology creators, and members of the investment community.”
To that list, the nonprofit group, Global Genes, would add rare disease advocates.
Since 2017, Global Genes has sponsored “Rare in the Square,” an open-air convening space for people attending JPM or related meetings, such as Biotech Showcase. Rare in the Square, in San Francisco’s Union Square, makes sure that the cause of rare and genetic diseases, which affects 400 million patients around the world, gets the attention it deserves, said Rose Mary Moegling, Global Genes Director of Marketing.
“We take over the square to make an impression that we are here and we matter,” she said. “We strongly believe that the only path to success, with all the challenges we face, is if every stakeholder has a place at the table and we all come together and collaborate.”
No longer just a meeting for insiders, the JPM 2020 conference will host more than 9,000 people from 450 companies. CSL Limited CEO Paul Perreault will speak on Monday and is expected to highlight the company’s continued sustainable growth, innovation and commitment to patients and public health.
With the huge attendance, plus the spinoff meetings that have sprung up, good luck finding a meeting room in San Francisco this week. Conveniently, “Rare in the Square” solves a practical problem by offering cozy – and free – spots for meetings, Moegling said. And because so many people are in town, it’s a great time to make introductions.
“It has evolved into an opportunity to help patient advocates who want to do more than go to Capitol Hill,” she said.
The mission of the California-based nonprofit is to “to connect, empower and inspire the rare disease community.” But Global Genes is careful not to encourage every patient advocate to rush to San Francisco during JPM week. Hotel rooms are hard to come by and the event is best suited to patient groups that are interested in funding research and participating in the development of treatments, Moegling said. But for those ready to connect with experts and entrepreneurs, it’s ideal.
“I have been personally amazed at how willing people are to sit down, talk and share knowledge and expertise,” she said.