Future research perspectives: the relationship between academia and industry

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Published: 6 Jan 2015
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Prof Gunnar Saeter, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

Prof Saetar speaks to ecancer at the 2nd EurocanPlatform Translational Research Course, discussing his presentation on the current relationship between academia and the pharmaceutical industry, how this is likely to evolve over time and how the two groups can improve their relationship to achieve the best cancer care in Europe.

Learn more about the EurocanPlatform project here

I will be addressing how I anticipate collaboration between academia and pharmaceutical companies to develop in the coming years. The main messages have been around how I think the collaborations between academia and the pharmaceutical industry will develop even more in the years to come. Where the pharmaceutical companies, as they are decreasing their own early research resources, they are even more dependent on intimate interaction with the academic institutions so that they get the right science, they get the right strategy, they get the right targets, they develop the right medicine in these times where the demands are changing. We need drugs with more efficacy, less toxicity and particularly where the balance between toxicity and efficacy is more positive than has been the case in the past. So their dependence on academia is going to increase because the complexity of science, the increased knowledge that the scientific environment has about mechanisms and about which targets to attack.

Where do you foresee difficulties in the relationship between academia and pharmaceutical companies in the future?

I don’t really see many problems because for the years that are coming now the power of academia to influence drug development by pharma has never been bigger. So academia is really in an even stronger position now with all the biological complexity and everything that the pharmaceutical industry needs help on. So really it’s going to be more opportunity in the future than it has been in the past.

How can academic institutions and pharma companies improve their relationships to achieve the best outcomes in clinical practices across Europe?

Trust is a key word and partners need to fully trust each other. I think we will see a development towards companies having academic environments that they are building a more lasting relationship to so that they will develop what is called preferred partners. Those preferred academic partners will be part of a whole drug development programme rather than being consulted just on individual trials and clinical studies, but will be in there for the whole biological development of a concept with biomarker development and all the complexity that modern drug development involves.