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The Reorient! Podcast | Dr. Hong Tang: New Frontiers in US-China Biotech

Dr. Hong Tang is the Chief Medical Officer and co-founder of OnQuality Pharmaceuticals, a targeted cancer supportive care company developing medications to address specific side effects and improve the quality of life for patients receiving anti-cancer medications, with operations in Seattle and Shanghai.

Dr. Tang brings to this position a wealth of medical and pharmaceutical experience. From 2017 to 2019, she held executive positions at Juno Therapeutics, an American biopharmaceutical company with a focus on CAR-T therapy and acquired by Celgene in 2018, and Dendreon, a Seattle-based company that develops personalized immunotherapy to fight cancer. Prior to that, she was the executive medical director for oncology medical affairs at Chicago-based Astellas Pharma. She has been the medical lead for Opdivo or Nivolumab (Anti-PD1), the blockbuster oncology drug from Bristol-Myers Squibb. She started her research career at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

She received her undergraduate degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hefei, China, her graduate degree in Western medicine in Guangzhou, China, and her Phd. in pharmacology at the University of Texas in San Antonio. She is also board certified in internal medicine and practised as an internist in Indiana for almost 7 years. Recorded May 28, 2021.


In an earlier version of this episode, when talking about OnQuality’s approach to cancer supportive care, and what sort of side effects it aims to treat, Dr. Tang named “EGFR (Epidermal grow factor receptor)” instead of “VEGFR (vascular endothelia grow factor receptor).” The podcast has been updated to reflect this correction.

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Show Notes:

01:22 HT on her career journey from rural China to CEO of a leading edge biotech firm.

05:38 HT on how her foundational training in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) informed her philosophy of medicine.

07:21 HT on whether TCM can be translated to a Western scientific context.

08:22 HT on the unregulated neutraceuticals sector and how it cannot be compared to the more rigorous oversight in TCM.

09:29 HT on how her parents’ experience with cancer drove her entrée into the field of immuno-oncology and her work on developing Opdivo, an immune-oncology drug at Bristol-Myers Squib.

11:48 HT on how she came to join her current company, OnQuality, of which she is the CMO, and why their approach to supportive cancer care resonated with her.

13:09 HT on the difference between working for a large pharmaceutical company and early-stage startup.

13:56 HT on the scale of OnQuality’s current operations.

15:15 HT on OnQuality’s approach to cancer supportive care, and what sort of side effects it aims to treat.

19:20 HT on the active ingredient in OnQuality’s treatment.

21:17 HT on the status of the clinical trials of this product.

22:43 HT on cancer rates in the West than in Asia and whether there are certain precautionary measures.

25:37 HT on her view of current status of the Chinese biotech industry.

27:30 HT on the extent to which biotech and pharmaceutical are viewed as a national strategic industry.

28:35 HT on the challenges of doing US China cross border research in general and with the current pandemic.

31:16 HT on trends in outsourced research and testing organizations, whether in China or other parts of the world.

34:29 HT on other Chinese-pioneered innovations in cancer therapy such as CAR-T, drawing upon her work at Juno Therapeutics.

37:21 HT on why OnQuality’s topical treatment is superior to systemic delivery when treating the side effects associated with cancer therapies.

39:24 HT on what she is hearing from her colleagues in China about that nation’s current public health strategies to manage the COVID-19 pandemic and how that compares to the approach in the United States.


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