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The Scoop on Our Precision Medicine Global Leader

The Scoop on Our Precision Medicine Global Leader

When one combines their passion for science with the ability to address human suffering, “amazing things” can happen, according to Dale Shuster, Senior Vice President, Global Head of Precision Medicine at Daiichi Sankyo.

For more than 33 years, Dale has used his love for science, which stems back to elementary school, to do some amazing things. Starting in preclinical research within the therapeutic areas of inflammation, immunology, and infectious disease, he achieved successes early on. For one, he identified the molecular genetics of bovine leukocyte adhesion, a fatal immunodeficiency in Holstein dairy cattle, and developed the diagnostic test that enabled eradication of the disease.1

A young Dale caring for a cow on his family’s dairy farm in St. Johnsville, New York. A young Dale caring for a cow on his family’s dairy farm in St. Johnsville, New York.

Dale pivoted to oncology at a time when breakthroughs in the field coincided with tragedy in his personal life. “During the ‘90s and early 2000s, we gained an ability to understand at a molecular level the complex disease that is cancer, and how we might approach it. In addition, our technical capacity to discover effective medicines for cancer was also advancing substantially,” said Dale. “It was also during this time that I lost my father to cancer. The confluence of these moments inspired me to be part of this critical period in oncology research.”

The opportunity to take on a more strategic role at a global Japanese company appealed to Dale, and so he joined Daiichi Sankyo in 2010. He led the development of a new way to treat tenosynovial giant cell tumor (TGCT), a rare, typically non-malignant tumor that affects small and large joints. In November 2022, Dale was asked to become the Global Head of Precision Medicine.

What Precisely is Precision Medicine?

Precision medicine provides the scientific knowledge of how therapies affect patients and their disease at a molecular level, Dale explained. To build this understanding, his team collaborates with discovery research, where new medicines originate, as well as with clinical development, which provides the efficacy and safety data needed for regulatory approval.

“In precision medicine, we seek to understand the molecular science of what the therapies are actually doing in patients. With this knowledge, we can determine the molecular profile of specific tumors that respond to our therapies,” he added.

Through this work, Daiichi Sankyo was able to change the standard of care by identifying a new category of patients, those with tumors that have low HER2 expression in metastatic breast cancer. (Learn more about the team behind our companion diagnostic tests.)

Making homemade ice cream is part of my family heritage; this is my mint flavor. Making homemade ice cream is part of my family heritage; this is my mint flavor.

Precision in Everyday Life

In both his professional and personal life, Dale enjoys being able to do things where he can take a step back and see what he has achieved.

Having grown up on a dairy farm in St. Johnsville, New York, he continues his family heritage by making homemade ice cream. “I’m known for my amaretto, pecan cream,” he said, “I use a good amaretto, which gives it a nice strong, smooth flavor.”

When he’s not making ice cream, he might be found tackling renovation projects around his home, about which he joked, “My wife laments I take forever to complete.”

But, then again, amazing things, don’t just happen overnight.

The Daiichi Sankyo Difference

Dale is proud of the organization’s commitment to improving human health and putting patients first.

“My colleagues, as well as our decisions, are very much driven by the questions, ‘What are we doing for patients?’ and ‘What can we do for patients?’ It’s part of the Daiichi Sankyo culture and not just a company statement. Our North Star is clearly patients and the unmet needs they face.”

As Dale looks to the future, he is excited for the opportunities that will open up to patients as a result of innovation.

“Our unique ability to innovate, rather than one specific innovation, is what sets Daiichi Sankyo apart,” he said. “I am proud to share my colleagues’ passion to do what it takes to make a difference, to do something amazing.”

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