Elizabeth A. Moreno – Genome Medical
Preventive care is most effective when starting early. Identifying someone’s risk for cancer or other medical conditions before onset allows them to make informed decisions for treatment and therapy.
So explains Elizabeth A. Moreno, whose responsibilities include negotiating partnerships between Genome Medical and the health systems, diagnostic labs and biopharma organizations it serves. Her employer having established itself as the nation’s leading independent telegenetic counseling and genetic services provider, she is intent on helping it pursue its vision of enabling a world where everyone’s health is informed by genetics.
Now celebrating her second anniversary as general counsel at the South San Francisco-headquartered firm, Moreno spoke with Vanguard in January, shortly after finalizing an exciting new partnership with one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies.
“There’s so much happening here, and it’s so exciting to be part of it,” the personable Moreno says. “Every day, we’re moving forward with another project and helping our customers bring the power of genetics to the patients they serve.”
The recently finalized pharmaceutical deal is one of the biggest on Moreno’s watch, as the global company offers various products for oncology, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neuroscience and respiratory therapies. Moreno says this company will increase its clinical trial effectiveness once it taps into Genome Medical’s genetics expertise and ability to identify patients who may qualify for clinical and even life-saving trials.
Moreno also oversees Genome Medical’s intellectual property efforts, such as its award-winning patient-engagement platform known as RISE — Rise, Inform, Support and Education — which she calls a game-changer in cancer prevention and diagnosis. RISE runs the gamut from patient scheduling, condition-risk assessment, patient triage, and education. According to the American Cancer Society, 5 to 10 percent of cancers can be traced to inherited genetic mutations, but other research shows that fewer than one in five at-risk people who meet guidelines are getting tested. Moreno is working with intellectual properties heavyweight Hogan Lovells to file for a provisional patent and anticipates the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office registering RISE into the Genome Medical portfolio next year.
Strength in numbers
Moreno’s responsibilities don’t stop there. She also leads deal development with key Genome Medical partners such as a leading real-world-data (RWD) vendor and, separately, a diagnostic lab that offers patient genetic testing.
The data vendor’s platform focuses on aggregating, structuring and normalizing patient health data across all care settings to create a longitudinal view of a patient’s health. As Moreno explains, the companies exchange data under the partnership to facilitate clinical trial matching for biopharma companies. A sponsor approaches the vendor to help identify patients based on criteria that include specific genetic variations or conditions.
The diagnostic lab partnership seems less complex but just as relevant. Here, a patient’s swab is sent to the lab to be tested for various conditions, and Genome Medical works with the patients and their families to interpret the test results and develop a treatment plan. Moreno oversaw the legal work necessary to forge this arrangement with a keen eye on patient/data privacy. Having spent more than 16 years as in-house counsel to nine healthcare companies, biotechs and biopharmas, she knows the ropes of this very intricate industry and recognizes the powerful role it plays in treating and/or improving patient health.
Hooked on health law
A graduate of Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, Moreno proceeded to Seton Hall University School of Law. It just so happened that the school was renowned for its health law and policy curriculum and the young Moreno never looked back. She honed her legal skills as a litigator from 2005 to 2008 with Mendes & Mount in New York City before her first in-house role as corporate compliance attorney for Saint Barnabas Health Care, which further fascinated her about the intersection of law and healthcare.
“I saw all the regulations governing healthcare and was involved in negotiating and implementing the Corporate Integrity Agreement relating to the U.S. Department of Justice’s allegations of violations of the False Claims Act,” she recalls. “I was hooked with this new passion and willingness to learn.”
From a personal standpoint, her next role with Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc., an Amgen subsidiary in South San Francisco, might be the most relevant. As corporate legal counsel, she had a hand in the licensing and marketing of medication her father would use 15 years later while undergoing a stem-cell transplant for the blood cancer multiple myeloma.
“I just so happened to be a part of that drug’s FDA approval process, not knowing that years later, this drug would help to put my father’s cancer into remission,” she says proudly. “I was lucky to be armed with knowledge of that drug.”
After Onyx came roles with the West Coast companies of Relypsa, Iovance Biotherapeutics Inc., Flatiron Health, and finally, Genome Medical, which, from a professional standpoint, might prove her most rewarding role.
It’s still a young company, founded in 2016 by Randy Scott, Robert Green and Lisa Alderson. In August 2021, a few months before Moreno’s arrival, Genome Medical acquired another provider of telehealth genetic counseling, GeneMatters, Inc.
There have been changes at the top since Moreno moved into her office, but she says all hands are on deck as Genome Medical continues its growth. A multi-talented legal executive, she has a hand in all aspects of the business: contracting, governance, licensing, compliance, human resources, investment rounds, oversight of outside counsel and more. Genome Medical’s genetic services cover critical specialties including oncology, cardiology, pediatrics, reproductive health, rare disease and more. This diversity presents the challenges Moreno likes and fuels her drive to have an impact on improving healthcare.
When she’s not at the office, she still finds time to pursue other interests, with animal rescue at the top. Old dogs, Moreno laments, rarely seem to warrant the attention of puppies and thus wind up in shelters after their owners have passed or been institutionalized. Yet, she says such canines might be the most loyal and deserving of a happy sunset. So far she’s adopted a terrier mix, three Chinese cresteds and several other seniors from the Bay Area senior dog rescue Muttville.
“I just have a soft spot for blind, deaf old dogs,” she says.
It’s a compassionate streak that complements Moreno’s role at Genome Medical. Everyone is interested in preventive medicine, and modern technology can be a valuable tool.
“There’s cancer in my family, and I need to know about my genetic variations,” she says. “We’ve got to be proactive, and genetics is a powerful way to empower our patients to take control of their health. This has become my guiding star.”
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