On Tuesday 14 July, the third collaboration workshop meeting between GSK and Cambridge, entitled Varsity 3, took place at Trinity Hall. The event was jointly organised by Dr Jana Voigt from the School’s Office for Translational Research and Victoria Higgins at GSK, Director of UK External Engagements for GSK. The day consisted of a mixture between a dragon’s den and a networking event. Part of the day consisted of Cambridge and GSK scientists, presenting ideas for joint projects to the workshop participants and the members of a Joint GSK/Cambridge Steering Committee, to get feedback and also approval to submit bids for funding to the JSC in October. The day was also an opportunity for researchers from Cambridge and GSK to meet up and discuss and develop new project and partnerships ideas. The workshop lead to two project proposals, which were invited to submit bids as well as a number of promising short and long term projects that are being developed.
The backdrop to all of this is that about a year ago, the University of Cambridge’s School of Clinical Medicine, the Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre and GSK established a collaborative relationship with the long-term ambition to jointly deliver a new medicine to patients in the next 5-10 years.
At a joint dinner at the end of the day the Regius Professor, Patrick Maxwell and Prof Paul-Peter Tak, Senior Vice President/Head, Immuno-Inflammation at GSK and a fellow at Christ College, spoke about the opportunities and challenges of closer industry/academic working. Prof Paul-Peter Tak, who had moved to GSK after a long career in academia, mentioned in his speech how when he first joined GSK and spoke to scientist there how positively “surprised he was to hear most of them talk about the their work in terms of a contribution to human health”, thus their key aims were very similar to those of his former academic colleagues. With such joint goals collaborations are truly feasible. Prof Maxwell, described the GSK/Cambridge link as “absolutely superb”, claimed he wished “to move further, faster” and continued, “If we are to keep serious pharmaceutical discoveries in the UK we need this type of deep, personal scientific relationship. I am willing to put everything into it.”
Note: GSK are very happy to discuss further collaboration ideas. Investigators from the Clinical School who are interested should get in touch with Dr Jana Voigt (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the first instance