The Lupus Research Institute (LRI) thanks Michael J Fox Foundation’s CEO Todd Sherer, PhD for drawing attention to the pressing need for greater collaboration among all participants in the drug development process. In a strong op-ed just published in the February issue of Nature Medicine, Dr. Sherer notes, “...collaborations among academic and industry players are ignited when researchers share information in real time... meeting scientists’ needs for better research tools enables them to move toward breakthroughs faster... investing in early promising therapeutic targets is crucial.”
As the world’s leading private sector supporter of novel lupus research, the LRI shares this view, viewing its role as a catalyst for exchange among the full scientific community—government, academia and industry—to accelerate discovery.
Frank Scientific Exchange
The only annual scientific conference devoted exclusively to lupus, the LRI’s Forum for Discovery is an example of what can happen when academia and industry converge to share research results and engage in open dialogue.
LRI President and CEO Margaret Dowd notes, “What makes this meeting particularly successful is its non-competitive character, exposing all attendees to the most novel and cutting-edge thinking in the field. Academics appreciate the feedback from their industry counterparts and vice versa. The conversation among critical players in the drug development process facilitates learning and progress throughout the lupus research community.”
Of great interest to all sides, the annual Industry Panel specifically provides a vehicle for collaboration in addressing specific issues impacting drug development. Bench, clinical and translational investigators as well as government scientists and R&D teams at pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies contribute from varying perspectives, sparking a frank discussion of potential solutions and collaborative next steps. The two-day conference format affords opportunities for informal one-on-one interaction among the multi-disciplinary group.
True Research Collaboration
Like the MJFF, the LRI is partnering with companies to identify the most promising projects with the greatest potential to improve treatment. For instance, this year, the LRI embarked on a first in lupus, a joint research initiative with EMD Serono, the biopharmaceutical division of global pharmaceutical giant Merck KGaA Darmstadt, Germany.
The EMD Serono unrestricted educational grant to an investigator at New York’s Feinstein Institute for Medical Research is supporting a potentially groundbreaking study addressing a fundamental question in lupus and autoimmune disease.
“The old adage two heads are better than one— or better still three or four—holds the wisdom of common sense,” said Ms. Dowd. “Approaching problems from differing vantage points is the best way we know to come to viable and effective solutions.”