N. Nora Yang is the director of portfolio management and strategic operations in the Division of Pre-Clinical Innovation at NCATS. In this role, she plans, identifies and manages collaboration opportunities and partnerships; develops new business models to improve efficiency and effectiveness of translational sciences; builds portfolio and project management capabilities; and implements best practices for managing public and private partnerships for NCATS and the Therapeutics for Rare and Neglected Diseases (TRND) program. Yang took a leadership role in building and managing the rare and neglected disease drug development portfolio for the TRND program, which has taken four investigational drugs into rare disease patients in seven clinical trials within three years. Yang brought extensive drug development experience from the biotechnology/pharmaceutical industry to the TRND program. As a program team leader and project manager at Eli Lilly and Company and at Amgen, Inc., she led global, multidisciplinary teams to manage and develop novel therapeutics for metabolic diseases and oncology indications. She also worked with startup companies and venture capital firms to build and evaluate business proposals and raise investment funds. Yang holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the University of California, San Diego, and a master’s degree in management from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
Yang’s research at NCATS is focused on solving systemwide issues of translational sciences, particularly at the intersections of science and business. She brings a combination of industry and academic leadership perspectives as well as deep domain knowledge and hands-on experience in biomedical research, portfolio and project management for therapeutic development, and financing. Yang works on business models and financing models to address the “valley of death” in biomedical research financing. She uses rare diseases drug development projects as case studies to work on common issues and simulate solutions that can affect biomedical research with logarithm improvement. She has been leading NCATS initiatives to establish novel public-private partnerships to develop new ways of financing biomedical research that will maximize benefits for all stakeholders, particularly underserved patient populations. Yang’s other research areas of interest include quantitative and qualitative portfolio impact analyses, which provide tools, data and a framework for real-time and data-driven strategic planning and monitoring to make NCATS operations highly efficient and effective.