# 05 New Medicine Research Collaborations (Science and industry lunch 5)


22 Apr 2008

Promotiezaal VUB

From 2005 until 2009, CROSSTALKS ran a bottom-up and interdisciplinary project “The Future of Medication in a Patient-centered Health Care”, a series of conferences and workshops to develop constructive dialogues between all the partners in the health care sector.

Crucial in this project was the collaborative partnership and sharing of knowledge between academics, industry, physicians, pharmacists, patients, sick funds and insurances, health and social care organizations and policymakers.


New Medicine Research Collaborations (Science and industry lunch 5)

08:30 Registration  
08:45 Welcome by Alain Dupont, Vice-dean Research & Head of the Pharmacology Department VUB
Improving research competitiveness for universities - their hospitals - and industry  
09:00 Daniel Pipeleers, Director Diabetes Research Center VUB: “A view from the bridge between laboratory research and clinical applications in diabetes”.
09:40 Stefaan Van der Spiegel, Policy Officer EC, Competitiveness in Pharmaceuticals and Biotech, DG Enterprise and Industry: “What value do we get for our money - A European overview”.
Re-organising clinical trials: case study
10:20 Françoise Meunier, Director General of EORTC, European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer: “The challenges and opportunities of cancer clinical research at pan-European level”.
11:00 Coffee break
A corporate and academic perspective on alternative models of risk-sharing
11:20 Stef Heylen, Chief Medical Officer Research & Early Development, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical R&D: "Belgian industry-university collaborations in an international perspective".
12:00 Marc Marti-Renom, Structural Genomics Unit, Prince Felipe Research Center: "Open source drug discovery. The Tropical Disease Initiative".
12:30  Final discussion  
13:00  Apero & Walking lunch

Bios / Slides

Alain Dupont

[bio] Alain Dupont is vice-dean Research and Head of the Pharmacology Department at the Faculty of Medicine and Pharmacy of Vrije Universiteit Brussel. His department is mainly developing research activities in the domain of Neuro-immuno-endocrinology. He is President of the Accompanying Committee of “The Future of Medication” project.

Daniel Pipeleers

Daniel Pipeleers, MD, graduated summa cum laude in 1971 and finished his PhD in medical sciences at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in 1976. From 1971 to 1980, he was Fellow and Senior Investigator of the Belgian Scientific Research Fund in the departments of Experimental Medicine (prof Willy Malaisse) at Université Libre de Bruxelles-ULB, Metabolism (prof Dave Kipnis) and Pathology (prof Paul Lacy) at Washington University Medical School in St Louis -USA, and Experimental Pathology (prof Willy Gepts) at the Queen Elisabeth Foundation in Brussels. Since 1980, he is Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of VUB and Director of the Diabetes Research Center. His research and development area is situated in biology and pathology of beta cells and in strategies and the development of beta cell therapy in diabetes.
He owns patents on the isolation and use of insulin-producing beta cells and has written extensively on this topic, holding a publication list featuring over 200 publications.
Until 2000 he was Coordinator of the EU multicenter program on Beta Cell Transplantation and Director of the Interdisciplinary Center of Excellence Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. From 2002 on, he is also Director of the JDRF Center for Beta Cell Therapy in Diabetes and Coordinator of the EU-Integrated Project in 6th Framework. Daniel Pipeleers has been member of various editorial boards, such as "Hormone and Metabolic Research", the “Journal Biologic Chemistry" and the "Medical Science Review Committee JDRF", and is associated with many scientfic organisations, such as the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine. He is founder (and Chairman of some of them) of the "Belgian Diabetes Registry", the “Beta Cell Bank", the VUB spin-off company Beta Cell and OPUS. Amongst his honors and awards list the most recent entries are the Quinquennial Prize for Medical Sciences of the Belgian government, the International Bial Merit Award in Biomedical Sciences, Portugal and the Methusalem Investigator of the Flanders Government, all achieved in 2007.

Stefaan Van der Spiegel

The decreasing number of new medicines and the rising prices of these medecines have triggered some questions that need joint EU-wide, if not global, answers.
Firstly, what are we expecting to come out of the pipeline and does this fit to the healthcare needs of our societies? Institutions and departments in almost every EU Member State, dedicated to health technology assessments, are trying to answer this difficult question by assessing the value of new medicines. The Dutch Presidency and WHO have suggested a common research agenda of needs in their Priority Medicines Report.
Secondly, why is the productivity of pharma declining and what can we do about it? Several EU-level initatives like the 7th Framework Programme and the Innovative Medicines Initiative, want to bring together our European research know-how and find solutions to overcome the bottlenecks in R&D. Also the traditional reward mechanisms, based on patent systems and pricing and reimbursement mechanisms, are getting increasingly questionned.

[bio]Policy Officer European Commission
Competitiveness in Pharmaceuticals and Biotech
Directorate General Enterprise and Industry
• Belgian (° 1973)
• Medicine (M.D.), Business Administration (M.B.A.);
• Policy Officer on Competitiveness in the Pharmaceutical Industry and Biotechnology for the European Commission
• Responsible for the Working Group on Pricing and Reimbursement of the Pharmaceutical Forum, involving EU Member State authorities, industry, patients and other stakeholders;
• Alumnus McKinsey&Co Healthcare Practice.

Françoise Meunier

Cancer remains the second cause of mortality in EU and there will be no progress without research. Facing the recent tremendous breakthroughs in molecular biology; there are numerous opportunities for high quality translational research in order to establish new standards of care and innovative/individualized therapeutic strategies. Strong collaboration between academic networks and pharmaceutical industry is essential as well as independent evaluation of new therapeutic agents. Belgium is in a unique position to face those challenges, due to excellent track record in clinical trials. In addition, the EORTC based in Belgium, is a coordinating structure created in 1962 with the aim of developing, conducting, coordinating and stimulating laboratory and clinical research in Europe to improve the management of cancer and related problems by increasing survival but also patients' quality of life. The EORTC constitutes a unique facility in Brussels for conducting such independent cancer clinical research with a staff of more than 150 members.

[bio] Francoise Meunier, Director General of the European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer, received her medical degree (1974, summa cum laude) from the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) and completed her research fellowship at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York in 1977-1978 (Fulbright award). She holds a Master’s Degree from the ULB in both Medical Oncology (1976) and Internal Medicine (1979), and earned her PhD (Agrégé de l'Enseignement Supérieur) in 1985 at the ULB. She is also certified as a Pharmaceutical Medicine specialist by the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine in the United Kingdom as well as in Belgium and has been a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of the United Kingdom since 1994.
The EORTC is a unique pan-European academic clinical research organisation operating as a non-profit association under Belgian law with the mission to develop, conduct, coordinate and stimulate high-quality translational and clinical research to improve the standards of patient cancer care by developing innovative drugs and more effective therapeutic strategies.
Françoise Meunier has led the coordination and administration of all EORTC activities since 1991 with the mandate to promote the EORTC as a major European organisation in the field of oncology with a network of 2,500 oncologists in over 300 universities and a Headquarters staff of 160 representing 15 different nationalities. As Director General, she is responsible for the organisation of scientific activities, public relations and medium-term EORTC strategy as defined by the EORTC Board.
Before joining the EORTC in 1991, Françoise Meunier was Head of the Infectious Disease Department at the Institut Jules Bordet in Brussels, Belgium and her personal area of research included mainly Invasive Fungal Infections in Cancer Patients. She has over 150 peer-reviewed published articles and is a member of numerous international oncology scientific societies. She is a member of the Belgian Royal Academy of Medicine (Académie Royale de Médecine de Belgique) as of the year 2006.
Françoise Meunier was awarded the Belgian Laureate “Prix Femmes d’Europe 2004-2005”.

Stef Heylen

Dr. Stef Heylen is Chief Medical Officer for Johnson&Johnson Pharmaceutical R&D, Research and Early Development, Europe, based in Beerse, Belgium. This R&D division is exclusively focused on the discovery and development of innovative new drugs for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and Alzheimer's Disease.

[bio] Stef has a medical degree from the University of Leuven, and has 20+ years experience in drug development in the pharmaceutical industry, obtained at the Janssen Research Foundation, the research division of Janssen Pharmaceutica in Beerse; at Crucell in Leiden, the Netherlands, and at Tibotec in Mechelen, Belgium. His expertise covers clinical research, regulatory affairs, drug safety, medical affairs, project- and portfolio management. He was responsible for the successful global clinical development of RISPERDAL TM , currently the most widely prescribed antipsychotic. While he was Site Manager for Tibotec in Mechelen both PREZISTA TM and INTELENCE TM were brought from Phase II to accelerated regulatory approval for the treatment of resistant HIV.

Marc Marti-Renom

During the last decade, the number of novel targets for drug discovery has decayed resulting in very few novel therapeutics approved by the US FDA. In this presentation, I will introduce an “open source” approach to drug discovery, called the Tropical Diseases Initiative (TDI).

[bio] Marc A. Marti-Renom is a computational biologist and head of the Structural Genomics Unit of the Bioinformatics Department, Prince Felipe Research Center. He conducts research on the improvement of the accuracy of protein 3D models . He is a founding member of the Tropical Disease Initiative. Using an open-source research and development model, the Tropical Disease Initiative seeks cures for tropical - "orphan" -illnesses such as malaria, dengue fever and African sleeping sickness. TDI aspires to combine the efforts of hundreds of volunteer researchers from around the globe, focusing on the application of computational biology and chemistry on drug discovery. Relying on a distributed, collaborative, transparent process of biomedical development, this bottom-up approach might take on health challenges that pharmaceutical corporations have determined to be unprofitable.


De Vrije Universiteit Brussel startte drie jaar geleden een unieke netwerking op om ondernemers en onderzoekers de nodige speelruimte te gunnen voor het ontwikkelen van innoverende lange termijnvisies. Eén van de thema's op de CROSSTALKS agenda is de toekomst van het geneesmiddel: het zoeken naar de juiste balans tussen een goede, betaalbare en toegankelijke gezondheidszorg én het stimuleren van innovatie en competitiviteit. Ondanks hoge investeringen in onderzoek naar nieuwe geneesmiddelen, is het rendement niet parallel gestegen. De grote uitdagingen zijn de chronische ziekten, zoals Alzheimer, kanker, cardiovasculaire aandoeningen, HIV/AIDS en malaria. Het zijn ingewikkelde, complexe onderzoeksuitdagingen die hoge investeringsrisico's vergen met een kleine succesgarantie.

CROSSTALKS wijdde op 22 april 2008 een workshop aan de problematiek. Stefaan Van der Spiegel (EC, Policy Advisor DG Enterprise and Industry, Competitiveness in Pharmaceuticals and Biotech) lichtte de actieradius en beslisingsmechanismen van de Commissie toe in het Europese farmaceutische onderzoekslandschap. De door Europa opgelegde richtlijnen en kaderprogramma's leveren echter een te rigide en weinig flexibele structuur om doeltreffende allianties op te zetten, zo bleek uit de presentaties van zowel Françoise Meunier (Director General van het EORTC) en Daniel Pipeleers (VUB, Directeur van het Diabetes Research Center). Wie excelleert in onderzoek, aldus Meunier en Pipeleers, moet de nodige tijd en ruimte - dus structurele, lange termijn financiering - kunnen krijgen om autonoom zwaartepunten in haar of zijn onderzoek te bepalen en een eigen koers uit te zetten. Wat constructieve partnerships niet in de weg staat. Integendeel: om rendabele, efficiënte samenwerkingen op te zetten en het hoofd te kunnen bieden aan de toenemende complexiteit in de onderzoekswereld, stelde Meunier, is het uitzetten van gemeenschappelijke doelen tussen de industrie, de academia, de liefdadigheidsfondsen en financieringsinstellingen belangrijker dan ooit. Het belang van translationeel onderzoek, waarbij fundamentele kennis wordt vertaald naar toegepast onderzoek voor het bekomen van effectievere therapieën, werd daarbij door beide onderzoekers extra in de verf gezet.

Ook Stef Heylen (CMO Research & Early Development, J & J Pharmaceuticals) voerde een sterk pleidooi voor meer translationeel onderzoek en open innovatie. Want de exponentiële kennisgroei in deze snel veranderende hoogtechnologische samenleving is niet langer alleen te beheren. Om competitief te blijven, stelde hij, moeten hoge-kost landen als België blijven innoveren, hoge succesratio's behalen en snelle resultaten afleveren. Door de intensieve samenwerking tussen patiënt, kliniek en onderzoeksteam levert translationeel onderzoek snelle en baanbrekende resultaten op. U niversiteiten en industrie moeten dus streven naar nieuwe publiek-private partnerships, gedeelde risico's en winsten, en een gezamenlijke lange termijn visie.

Het "Tropical Disease Initiative" van Marc Marti-Renom (Prince Felipe Research Center, Valencia, Spanje) is zo'n voorbeeld van een gedecentraliseerd, web-based en communitydriven project waar wetenschappers wereldwijd hun kennis kunnen bundelen in een open innovatie model. Het initiatief implementeert de open-source strategie uit de softwaresector door genoom sequenties en proteïnestructuren - basiscomponenten in de speurtocht naar nieuwe geneesmiddelen - in te voeren in een database die behoort tot het publieke domein. Aangezien de database vrij toegankelijk is via het Internet en niet gepatenteerde informatie bevat, treedt er een schaalvergroting- en versnellingseffect op, waardoor er meer informatie vrijkomt voor meer onderzoekers, en de traditionele drug discover pipeline wordt ingekort.


This project could be realized due to unconditional grants by

Astra Zeneca Foundation
Janssen Pharmaceutica