Friday, November 15, 2013

Clinical Research Day focuses on academic/industry collaboration


RESEARCH RULES: At left, Claire Oppenheim, of MGH Psychiatry, and Crowley

The focus of the 11th annual Clinical Research Day, said Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president, in his welcoming address, is on two missions: translating basic science findings into improvements in patient care and enhancing relationships between academic medical centers and industry. Such relationships are required, he explained, both because of industry’s expertise in developing and bringing new products to market and because of the need for more diverse sources of research funding. Slavin also acknowledged the leadership of William Crowley, MD, who founded the Clinical Research Program and will be stepping down as its director in the coming year. “It’s fair to say that Bill’s advocacy has kept clinical research at center stage for the past 17 years, and it is now an integral part of the agenda for the hospital as a whole.”

In his keynote address at the Oct. 3 event, Elias Zerhouni, MD, brought his perspectives as a former physician investigator and dean at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, director of the National Institutes of Health, and current president of Global Research & Development at Sanofi France, to addressing “The Future of Collaborations between Academic Health Centers and Industry.” Stressing the need for better models of collaboration, he noted that, “If links in the chain across academia and industry and government are not strong, the entire system fails.”

In the afternoon panel on the role of translational medicine at academic health centers, Dennis Ausiello, MD, MGH physician-in-chief emeritus, stressed the need to make patients partners in the hospital’s research enterprise. Michael Rosenblatt, MD, chief medical officer at Merck & Co., noted that better collaboration between industry and academia can both expedite clinical trials and avoid bureaucratic issues. Vicki Sato, PhD, a professor at Harvard Business School and the Harvard University Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, added that partnerships need to be strategic and sustained through the life of a project; and Katrina Armstrong, MD, MSCE, physician-in-chief of the MGH Department of Medicine, stressed the need for resources to train young translational investigators, including better mentors and role models.

Panel moderator Mason Freeman, MD, director of the Translational Unit in the Clinical Research Program, stated that the unit’s strategic plan includes specialized training designed to expose fellows and potentially residents to what is really involved in bringing novel therapies into practice. “We want to take the investment this hospital has made to creating one the great biomedical research entities devoted to understanding human disease and apply that in a partnership with companies, both to produce molecules that could benefit patients with a disease and to help us explore the biology of that disease.”

For a full list of the 263 Clinical Research Day abstracts, including the award-winning posters, visit the Nov. 15 online edition of MGH Hotline. 

Read more articles from the 11/15/13 Hotline issue.

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