VP, Research & Development of Glaukos Corporation
“Solving Complex Scientific Problems”
Gabriella Szekely joined Glaukos in 2015, just after the company was listed on the NYSE after more than 17 years of experience in pharmaceutical drug development at 3M, Pfizer, and Allergan. She and her team contributed to developing new medicines such as Aldara®/Immiquimod, Pregabalin/Lyrica®, and therapeutic indications of Botox, including spasticity and chronic migraine. She has been leading the R&D transformation at Glaukos from a purely medical device to a hybrid pharmaceutical company that develops breakthrough, vision-saving ophthalmic therapies. Gabriella established key scientific functions responsible for drug discovery research, including pharmacology, toxicology, drug disposition, and pharmaceutical development sciences, by hiring key talent and establishing the multidisciplinary collaborations necessary for the complex interdisciplinary innovation required for the successful development and regulatory approval of novel therapies. Persistence, curiosity, tireless efforts to solve complex scientific problems, and building highly effective teams are key in overcoming the many challenges they typically face on the 10-15 year-long journey that leads from a new idea to a novel, approved medical therapy.
Gabriella mentored several women at different stages in their careers. Working in the life sciences/pharmaceutical industry, where many leaders are trained as scientists, developing business understanding and nurturing leadership skills are especially important—recognizing the talent in potential future leaders and providing them opportunities to grow and challenge themselves without the fear of failure in a supportive environment. Her advice to future aspiring leaders is to see and seize the opportunity in every situation. “Be brave and be bold to step up to new challenges. Remain humble, non-judgmental and practice servant leadership to enable and support others to succeed,” she says. “I have had an opportunity to work with a number of exceptionally talented and highly motivated women who had great educational foundation and product development experience and just needed to be encouraged and build their self-confidence to pursue potential leadership opportunities in our diverse scientific teams.” Armed with a unique ideology, Gabriella has been taking the company to new heights.
Glaukos was founded in 1998 as a medical device company and has been a trailblazer in defining a whole new class of therapy for patients suffering from glaucoma. If this condition is left untreated, it may lead to vision loss. Traditionally, anti-hypertensive eyedrop therapies are used to treat this.
However, patient compliance with medications remains a key challenge, and 50% of patients are non-compliant due to their ability to administer their eyedrops accurately or regularly. In addition, eye drops may also have undesirable side effects, such as redness, irritation, drowsiness, or allergic reactions.
Glaukos pioneered Micro-Invasive Glaucoma Surgery, or MIGS which offered a safe alternative and revolutionized the traditional glaucoma treatment and management paradigm. “We launched the iStent®, our first MIGS device, in the United States in 2012, our next-generation iStent inject® device in the United States in 2018, and most recently, the iStent inject W device in 2020. The iStent is the smallest medical device approved worldwide to be implanted in the eye and has been implanted in more than 800,000 eyes globally to date.” Since its inception, Glaukos has become an ophthalmic medical technology and pharmaceutical company focused on novel therapies to treat glaucoma, corneal disorders, and retinal diseases.
“In corneal health, our proprietary suite of single-use, bio-activated pharmaceuticals are designed to strengthen, stabilize and reshape the cornea through a process called corneal collagen cross-linking to treat corneal ectatic disorders and correct refractive conditions,” says Gabriella. “We are leveraging our platform technologies to build a comprehensive and proprietary portfolio of micro-scale surgical and pharmaceutical ophthalmic therapies.” Their most recent proprietary non-invasive topical drug delivery platform is designed to be used on the eyelid to treat dry eye disease, presbyopia, glaucoma, and other ocular surface and corneal disorders such as blepharitis, conjunctivitis, and related conditions. “We are pioneers of designing and manufacturing micro-scale devices for the eye, as well as developing novel reservoir based or biodegradable drug delivery systems that are very safe, non-invasive to administer and provide vision saving medical therapy.” IEWL
VP, Research & Development of
At Glaukos, our focus is to develop and lead the global ophthalmic market with novel therapies for the treatment of glaucoma, corneal disorders, and retinal diseases—therapies that advance the existing standard of care and enrich the lives and treatment alternatives for patients worldwide.