Importance of Rising STars

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Identifying and engaging with emerging experts and rising stars is a key part of medical affairs. Their role and value in supporting the successful clinical journey of a molecule is well established.

What is less established however, is the importance of balancing “methodology” and “context” when it comes to identifying and mapping the rising star landscape.

Traditionally, analysing publication patterns is a common methodology cited when identifying and mapping the rising star landscape. However, common sense tells us that relying solely on this approach is fraught with issues because in any given therapy area, the vast majority of candidates with rising publication patterns will not necessarily be rising stars. Likewise, identifying rising stars by focusing on recipients of career development accolades and awards can provide some useful input, but there are clearly several shortcomings to this approach. Speaking directly with established KOLs to learn their viewpoint on who they see as the emerging experts of tomorrow is a powerful and valuable input, but one should be aware of the individual bias that a KOL may have for the people that they have personally worked with or are in their department.

All such methodologies must also examine the context of the therapy area in question. For example, funding is a major factor which drives rising stars into certain areas. Some disease areas are clearly better funded than others and this can influence the entry and growth of passionate people in such areas. National and cultural factors, including an awareness of therapy areas traditionally dominated by experts of a specific gender, are also important considerations when assessing the context of an individual rising star. Identifying rising stars in emerging markets, where traditional activity metrics such as publication and congress activity do not always correlate with influence and potential, presents its own unique challenges.

Taking into consideration the aforementioned points, it is clear that a blended approach using multiple methodologies, balancing subjective and objective inputs, and taking into account the important contextual factors unique to each therapy area and national market would be the ideal way to accurately identify and map the rising star landscape.
Finally, in addition to rising stars, it is also worthwhile focusing on “interesting stars” – an idea raised by many of the KOLs we speak with. Who are the people doing something novel, different, ground-breaking, and therefore may not be identifiable through more traditional methodology?


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