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DBL%20Hendrix%20small.png College chemistry, 1983

Derek Lowe The 2002 Model

Dbl%20new%20portrait%20B%26W.png After 10 years of blogging. . .

Derek Lowe, an Arkansan by birth, got his BA from Hendrix College and his PhD in organic chemistry from Duke before spending time in Germany on a Humboldt Fellowship on his post-doc. He's worked for several major pharmaceutical companies since 1989 on drug discovery projects against schizophrenia, Alzheimer's, diabetes, osteoporosis and other diseases. To contact Derek email him directly: derekb.lowe@gmail.com Twitter: Dereklowe

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June 15, 2012

Cheer For Good Ol' Pfizer U

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Posted by Derek

The biggest pharma companies increasingly seem to feel as if they need universities nearby. We've talked about this trend before, and Pfizer's current strategy makes it quite clear.

Partnerships between industry and academia, of course, aren’t new. Yet Pfizer, Sanofi, Merck & Co. (MRK) and other drug companies are putting a new twist on the arrangement by stepping up their level of collaboration with universities. In the case of Pfizer, the world’s largest drug company is embedding operations in Boston, San Francisco, New York and San Diego, often in the very same buildings where famed academic institutions have labs.

“No matter how much money you have, nothing compares to the innovation going on out in the world,” said Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, the director of the [new Pfizer lab in Cambridge], in an interview. “We want to be here, integrated into this fabric.”

Right. As I said earlier, I can definitely see the benefit to putting your research center in Cambridge or South San Francisco as opposed to Duluth or Reno. There are a lot of qualified people in the area who might be interested in moving over to join you, for one thing, and for small companies, that's where the (knowledgeable) money tends to hang out. But I still wonder about this cozy-up-to-the-academic-luminaries approach. Pfizer, for example, is making a big deal out of collaborating with Harvard, and their vision of how this is going to work doesn't quite fit into reality as I've come to know it:

Gutierrez-Ramos said he is trying to create an atmosphere at the lab where outside researchers easily come and go, and Pfizer’s scientists visit neighboring academicians on their turf.

Pharmaceutical companies, which historically are highly secretive about their work because of competition, need to be willing to take more risks in the future, he said, creating access to its inner sanctums to develop drugs earlier.

What Pfizer offers academic researchers are “extraordinary” resources for drug development that nearby university labs can’t match, said Harvard’s [Hal] Dvorak.

The problem with all this my-lab-is-your-lab stuff is that money gets involved. Don't think Harvard doesn't appreciate that, either - anyone who imagines a big pharma company snookering the unworldly Harvard Square luftmenschen should go try to do a deal with the university's technology transfer people. Undervaluing the worth of its own research is not one of Harvard's problems. And matters of intellectual property get involved, too pesky little matters that lead to Jarndyce v. Jarndyce style lawsuits. No, I have trouble imagining people breezing in and out of each other's labs like some sort of drug-discovery effort set in the Seinfeld universe.

What's interesting is that stories like the one I've linked to say that the drug companies are doing this because money is tight, and they need new revenue streams - thus the collaborations. And the universities are doing it because money is tight, and they need new revenue streams. The only way money is going to come out of these deals in order to fulfill both those expectations is for new drugs to be discovered and marketed, and that's a ten-to-fifteen year process. For now, the money is flowing from the drug industry towards academia.

Let's hope that the success rate of the targets improves. Don't get me wrong - I think that collaborations with academia can be useful, and I'm all for both groups getting to understand each other more. But I wonder if people are building expectations up a bit too much, too soon.

Comments (50) + TrackBacks (0) | Category: Academia (vs. Industry)


COMMENTS

1. overthetop on June 15, 2012 8:04 AM writes...

I'm working in "big pharma" business development negotiating tech transfer agreements and collaborations, and routinely discourage my company's scientists from dealing with Harvard and other Ivy League schools. Pompous and arrogant are the only kind words that come to mind. Many times these strategic moves made by pharma executives to encourage academic collaborations...seem mainly like a thinly veiled way of tossing their academic buddies some cash. Sometimes we get something of scientific value, but most of the time...not so much.

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2. simpl on June 15, 2012 8:06 AM writes...

This sort of matches the Novartis experience. The Link between Boston's universities and Novartis Research is clear. In the headquarters, the links to Basel university are more tenuous, and a chemistry or engineering degree is not a ticket to Pharmaland. The largest involvement is in the biotech area, where there is a tripartite strategic attempt to establish a regional(Swiss/German)centre of expertise.
So I see this as opportunistic rather than essential.

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3. bbooooooya on June 15, 2012 8:23 AM writes...

These explicit industry/academic collaborations (i.e. not UCSF/DNA....) have been going on since at least the mid 90s (and likely earlier). Does anyone know how many phase 3 drug candidates have come out of them?

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4. Anonymous on June 15, 2012 8:27 AM writes...

I guess this is the same "Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos", aka JC (I kid you not) who flew in seagull-like to GSK, Stevenage, UK, made a lot of noise, crapped on everyone and then flew out to Pfizer. One of his great "innovations" was to re-decorate in garish colours and re-name a lot of rooms so we ended up with room names such as "chaos". A modern-day Don Quijote tilting at windmills!

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5. Electrochemist on June 15, 2012 8:55 AM writes...

@ #3 bbooooooya - Here's one example (commercial, not Ph III):

http://paw.princeton.edu/issues/2011/05/11/pages/6046/index.xml

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6. Rick Wobbe on June 15, 2012 9:04 AM writes...

Has there been any independent (i.e. non-pharma, non-investment firm) study comparing the productivity of this type of top-down, broad based strategic initiative with bottom-up initiatives focusing narrow technical or therapeutic objectives? I don't have the data, but it seems to me that historically, the smaller, bottom-up initiatives were much more productive. It seems to me that 10 Max Tischler-Selman Waksman type collaborations would be more productive than one gargantuan, multimillion dollar Merck-Rutgers extravaganza would have been in its time. Bigger is often not better.

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7. jtd7 on June 15, 2012 9:12 AM writes...

"Undervaluing the worth of its own research is not one of Harvard's problems." Thanks for the belly laugh. Now I have to clean coffee off my monitor. Thanks also for the well-placed Bleak House allusion, but I have to remind you that Jarndyce v. Jarndyce is American usage. The lawsuit in Dickens' novel is referred to as Jarndyce and Jarndyce, and described thusly:

"Jarndyce and Jarndyce drones on. This scarecrow of a suit has, in course of time, become so complicated that no man alive knows what it means. The parties to it understand it least, but it has been observed that no two Chancery lawyers can talk about it for five minutes without coming to a total disagreement as to all the premises. Innumerable children have been born into the cause; innumerable young people have married into it; innumerable old people have died out of it. Scores of persons have deliriously found themselves made parties in Jarndyce and Jarndyce without knowing how or why; whole families have inherited legendary hatreds with the suit. The little plaintiff or defendant who was promised a new rocking-horse when Jarndyce and Jarndyce should be settled has grown up, possessed himself of a real horse, and trotted away into the other world. Fair wards of court have faded into mothers and grandmothers; a long procession of Chancellors has come in and gone out; the legion of bills in the suit have been transformed into mere bills of mortality; there are not three Jarndyces left upon the earth perhaps since old Tom Jarndyce in despair blew his brains out at a coffee-house in Chancery Lane; but Jarndyce and Jarndyce still drags its dreary length before the court, perennially hopeless."

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8. anon2 on June 15, 2012 9:12 AM writes...

#1 and #4: Indeed.

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9. alig on June 15, 2012 9:12 AM writes...

@#5 the article says he first read about the compound in 1946 and it got approved in 2004. I hope 58 years is not the norm for academic development.

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10. SP on June 15, 2012 9:36 AM writes...

There are also the informal relationships- someone from a university lab goes to a nearby pharma and is still in the area so can trade notes with former colleagues about pre-competitive stuff. It's not blockbuster deals, but it can save people a lot of time from screwing around with bad instruments, problematic cell lines, etc. These discussions happen pretty often where I am (about every week or two) so the benefits can add up.

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11. Rick Wobbe on June 15, 2012 9:44 AM writes...

SP #10, Has anyone in your organization compared the relative ROI on the two types of relationships (small, informal vs. big, strategic)?

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12. David Formerly Known as a Chemist on June 15, 2012 10:20 AM writes...

Just because these arrangements haven't produced much in the past doesn't mean they can't. Academia could certainly learn a lot from pharma regarding druglike properties, the development pathway, etc. And pharma could gain access to new targets, provide resources on how to better validate them, etc. There's clearly a lot of potential benefits to closer interactions. The trick is establishing effective legal agreements that allow for open communication, sharing of data and reagents, etc, and still allowing everyone to walk away with an equitable portion of the spoils when something good comes out the other end. Can it make matters any worse than they are now?

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13. barry on June 15, 2012 10:55 AM writes...

These arrangements between Universities and Industry (or between Universities and the Military) go back decades. Predictably, the grad students get screwed when they finish a degree and learn that they can't talk about what they've done. That's nice (in this case) for Pfizer (to whom they can talk) if Pfizer wants to be the only company bidding on a new chemist.

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14. sfbay biotechie on June 15, 2012 11:05 AM writes...

After 20+ years of industry lab experience (biochemistry/cell biology), and involvement in many collaborations with academia, I've grown a bit cynical about the value of these collaborations, and the likelihood of academic research in general standing up to the scrutiny and demands of industry, where things need to work robustly on a weekly basis or there's hell to pay. The issue has gotten some recent attention with the Bayer and Amgen studies, but the enthusiasm (or hype) for these collaborations seems to increase nonetheless. I hope to be wrong in my thinking that a lot of these collaborations are just good 'ol boys from the upper levels of science scratching each other's backs, but it just happened again recently, where the company I work at was sold a bill of goods by a nearby prestigious university, it only took a couple months diligence to completely unravel what they sold us...

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15. DCRogers on June 15, 2012 11:18 AM writes...

I always suspect the point of these academic collaborations is to act as cover for management when they're asked "where will the research come from after the layoffs"?

Of course, it would be nice if something actually appeared at some future date, but that's not essential. Cutting costs to make the numbers work for this year's bonus plan is. Stroking the ego of some Big Name Academic who is willing to parrot the "innovation" cover story is relatively cheap compared to head-count of actual researchers.

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16. Mike Hamilton on June 15, 2012 11:40 AM writes...

A big part of collaboration is information sharing. I would imagine both corporate and academia could be well served by a creation of a large secondment program.

Let Pfizer researchers work in a academic lab for a year and let an academic researcher (post-doc, PhD student) work at Pfizer for a year.

Pfizer did this in the past, but it was usually 1 or 2 people per year across an entire TA. Why not make it 20?

Collaboration is a good thing when both parties gain an in-depth understanding of each other's work. I would imagine a lot of good ideas could be brought back to the respective organizations. Whether anything would come of those ideas is a completely different topic.

Mike

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17. Grad on June 15, 2012 12:00 PM writes...

@1 overthetop
I'm a student looking to get into a similar field, would I be able to ask you some questions?
My email is Northrop_2@yahoo.com
if you're not comfortable posting yours.

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18. Chemjobber on June 15, 2012 12:16 PM writes...

Hail! to the colleagues still here
Hail! to remaining chemists
Hail! Hail! to Pfizer U
The leaders and the best!

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19. RTW on June 15, 2012 12:21 PM writes...

Pfizer has had a LONG relationship with E.J. Corey at Harvard. He has been a consultant for them for quite a long time. I have to hand it to him however. If he didn't have a good suggestion for you, he told you so. Didn't try to BS you or make you feel that you are a moron bring such a problem to him as other consultants were wont to do.

Also - The near by location to the ivy league school of the midwest (The University of Michigan) as some would have you beleive didn't seem to make much impression on Pfizer when they had a major presence in Ann Arbor.

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20. Anonymous on June 15, 2012 12:24 PM writes...

Imagine a completely opposite situation and think what we may all lose by keeping the academics and industry far apart....In that sense the current trend of acad-ind collaboration is a good thing and will sure deliver results

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21. Ed on June 15, 2012 1:00 PM writes...

@ 19, with all due respect, but UMich is no Harvard.

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22. Curious Wavefunction on June 15, 2012 1:14 PM writes...

I have to say I still don't understand how all this industry-academia collaboration is going to pan out. Even if industry "outsources" the discovery level research, it will still have to fund the project at the clinical stage. And that's still the most expensive part of the whole drug development process, so I still can't see how they can afford it.

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23. Hap on June 15, 2012 1:36 PM writes...

As a replacement for internal research, I could see two scenarios:

1) Academics find leads, tool compounds, and interesting mechanisms of actions - if they work closely with pharma, they might actually be able to deliver these things more effectively so that less work has to be done by pharma to make drugs.

2) Academic groups replace synthesis/bio groups to do what they had done before in pharma - great for pharma, because it is cheaper, but it might not be as good. The grad students will wonder where they are going to work after graduation and come up with no answers, and at that point there probably won't be enough labor unless pharma unleashes more screaming "We need scientists!" PR (eliding the "cheap" part). As CW said, you still have the expensive clinical work to do, and if the products of academic groups aren't as reliable, then pharma will spend more on bad candidates and won't really win, either.

Scenario 1 is more likely, and more sensible, but I have to wonder why they weren't doing it before. The cynic in me says Scenario 2, since it fits well with the cost-cutting push, and has the short-term logic that is so beloved of pharma upper management.

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24. Keith on June 15, 2012 1:48 PM writes...

The big companies also get "workers" that are called students with few legal hassles for the company. The company basically gets slaves. Exploiting student labor is not ok under the disguise of education. Many of these "students" are expected to work 80 to 100 hour work weeks for little pay. It is not a livable wages. This is blatant abuse and must be made illegal. Work protections for student MUST be put in place to stop exploitation!

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25. Anonymous on June 15, 2012 2:22 PM writes...

Keith, you really made me laugh. An idealist? Work protections for students? Are you really that naive? Half of them aren't even citizens. You also probably believe that people are basically good at heart as well, right? And pharma CEOs care about their employees and the patient? Keep drinking the kool aid dude. (I put rum in mine, a lot of it.)

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26. Carter on June 15, 2012 2:33 PM writes...

Both Keith and Hap are well directed in their comments but miss the big picture.

If all the pharma R&D is done by post-docs and students, what jobs will be left in the private sector to employ them?

All this means is less over-head for the company, no hassles from employees. The company rakes in the profits and minimize capital investments.

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27. Hap on June 15, 2012 2:55 PM writes...

That was my scenario 2 - research to grad students, grad students can't get jobs, tell other potential grad students that grad school's a dead end, shortage of (cheap) scientist labor ensues, followed by PR rants that we need scientists.

Funny, for people that think that Ayn Rand predicted the world, and should have made it, pharma and chemical company CEOs (*cough*Andrew Liveris*cough*) seem to assume an awful lot that their needs are society's duties.

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28. Anonymous on June 15, 2012 3:12 PM writes...

OK, here is another scoop, BMS initiated collaboration with Scripps

http://www.scripps.edu/news/press/2012/20120615bms.html

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29. BigSky on June 15, 2012 3:50 PM writes...

Since joining the unemployed I've had more time for self-improvement recently and one of the books I've just completed about energy in the modern world made an interesting point.

The author noted that Steven Chu, current Sec. of Energy, stated in his Nobel Prize speech that R+D is the foundation, crucial to everything else... and for the most part, "the government is the primary generator of basic R+D in the US, not only for energy but, with the exception of pharmaceuticals, for everything else as well."

That was a 1997 viewpoint and with hindsight it seems that pharma decided to join the movement towards letting 'someone else' be the R+D generator a little late. The current fad of co-localizing to lay off your research efforts on universities is just the now-obvious iteration of that policy. No way in Hades will it work but shifting risk and costs onto someone else sure sounded like a solid business strategy over on the carpet-side.

If I let my imagination go wild, I can extrapolate to a time very soon when the pharma management braintrust will operate solely from an iPhoneOS8 on the golf course as virtual drug ronin. There will be no need for infrastructure, support staff, labs, etc. The NIH will handle all of that. Just call them when you have a compound that has proven efficacy and passed phase IIb trials with a dedicated CMO. Drug discovery without the 'discovery'.

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30. MIMD on June 15, 2012 4:02 PM writes...

Derek writes:

I wonder if people are building expectations up a bit too much, too soon.

Yes.

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31. MIMD on June 15, 2012 4:13 PM writes...

And by the way, there's already a strong relationship between academia and industry.

It's called "ghostwriting."

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32. RTW on June 15, 2012 4:22 PM writes...

21 Ed - You are absolutely correct. But folks from around Ann Arbor often make that reference. Not a big fan of them myself. Of course I am also not that big a fan of Harvard either, or any other ultra expensive educational institution that produce loads of people that think by virtue of being a graduate they are some how better than everyone else. Lots of high quality places to attend school and not end up getting yourself so far in debt that you spend a significant amount of effort living beyond your means to keep up appearances while also trying claw your way out.

Also if you look at Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos LinkedIn information you will see that he once was an assistant professor there in the early 90's so perhaps this is nothing more than some form of nepotism? Why not MIT, BU, or Yale?

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33. Blames Jack on June 15, 2012 4:32 PM writes...

The flaw in this plan is that academics, no matter how gifted, are clueless as to how to do drug discovery.

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34. Ed on June 15, 2012 4:48 PM writes...

RTW, most people attending Harvard as an undergrad will not end up with any debt because the school gives out many need based full ride scholarships and grants. And as we all know, graduate school in science is "free".

Anyhow, I don't think there is anything wrong with schools having strong ties to industry. It is a win win situation for both. Someone mentioned that this will contribute to the down fall of graduate schools in chemistry. It is true, but students at these elites schools will be the last to feel the pain. At the end of the day it is a win for the graduate students also.

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35. Chrispy on June 15, 2012 4:59 PM writes...

Is experience worth nothing anymore? In academia you have a bunch of students and postdocs learning as they go. The PI may have some experience but most of that is in grantsmanship -- certainly not drug discovery. These collaborations seem little more than a smokescreen so that early drug discovery research can be jettisoned without investors asking where your future drugs are going to come from. And as others have stated, this is a focus on the very early stages, when little money is being spent, anyway.

I fear that the situation is even worse -- that experience is now a liability, and experienced drug discoverers will find themselves experiencing something else. And in ten years we'll realize that there's nothing in the pipeline...

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36. Lol on June 15, 2012 9:32 PM writes...

Ain't this just a hoot? I can assure you the majority of med chemists in industry feel that academic med chem and academic med chem training is a waste of time. Pharma wants to cozy up to academia as the next viable generator of clinical candidates and NMEs? Good luck with that. If this were a viable strategy, academics would have populated the pipeline with ph 3 candidates long ago. The majority of academic papers in JMC and BMCL are trash.

More importantly, what would Pfizer U's mascot be? Maybe a rabid wolverine.

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37. txpltd on June 15, 2012 9:56 PM writes...

#15 is closest to correct. This seems like a ruse to keep investors from fleeing for the hills when they realize that there is really no plan for replenishing the stripped-to-the-bone pipeline. "Yeah, we'll get new targets from ACADEMIA!"

The cheap labor angle is an interesting perspective, too, and begs the question as to how many academic postdocs have the experience or patience to properly develop a new drug target? I believe the answer is essentially zero.

Finally, with every Pharma bidding for the same pathetic "new targets," how many decent shots on goal do you think Big Blue will see? As an academic, would you rather see your most attractive baby adopted by Genentech or or farmed out to the foster home in Groton with all the other ugly and malformed leftovers?

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38. Cellbio on June 16, 2012 12:10 PM writes...

I agree with many prior comments, and would add that Pharma generally does get its targets from academia, so my uncertainty is in the value of paying for this close association when academics publish the most interesting findings rapidly so they don't get scooped. Also agree with above comments that point out this is not new. Industry collaborations with institutes such as Scripps, La Jolla AII, MIT (and many smaller deals) have been part of the landscape for a long time. In all cases I know in some detail, the relationship sours, academics look to work around the first rights of refusal lock-up, and after time, the "sponsor" walks as it is clear the Institute has very different goals (money now) and a vastly different sense of urgency and market maturity of ideas ('these findings potentially have great potential to improve diagnosis and treatment of human maladies...'). Despite these concerns, it does not cost Pfizer much to try for 5 years. They might be in position to act on technology that otherwise would have gone into a new company backed by VCs, and if successful, for sale a few years later at a 10x multiple.

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39. pharmadude on June 16, 2012 12:16 PM writes...

#15, #35, and #37 are on target. Academic collaborations sound good to investors, especially when big names like Harvard are attached to these arrangements. Not to say that they can't produce anything, but it seems silly to count on it. The bigger problem is the lack of innovation within big pharma. If big pharma had produced over the last decade then these collaborations wouldn't be so trumped up as a cure all.

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40. MoMo on June 16, 2012 12:20 PM writes...

Another attempt by Big Pharma to exploit the weak and beaten down masses. Sure they cozy up to the big names in academia, but what will they really get? A few signature reactions? Some targets that MAY pan out after significant effort? But how many drugs have top Academia really produced? Cory?=0 Schreiber?= 0 for all their hard work over the years. If they do get a hit then they'll take the technology and farm it out to Asia or China for real cheap labor, leaving the scademics and their students holding nothing-including job prospects.

We see through your strategic mind games Big Pharma- it's time you Fucked Off.

Boycott Pfizer

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41. crackerjacksPhD on June 16, 2012 1:36 PM writes...

"Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos" Take a look at his education.
More proof that R+D at big pharma is nothing more than a dog and pony show.

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42. Anonymous on June 16, 2012 5:15 PM writes...

I met with Corey during one of his consult visits to Pfizer. He did not come up even one novel idea that wasn't already shared in my problem statement.

So more pharma money will go to consults who care more about the wine they have during their business trips than the actual work at hand. If the money isn't poured into BCG consults, it goes professors with huge egos and no knowledge of what it takes to commericialize a product. Wonder how many of Pfizer R1-R3s could have remained employed on the bar tab alone for Pfizer consultants?

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43. Nuclear Option on June 16, 2012 7:13 PM writes...

Collaboration between large pharma and academia strikes me as an odd pairing. More and more the expertise in pharma is late-stage development (Phase II and thereafter) and marketing, and the discovery-side layoffs only further drive home the separation in the culture of discovery science (academia) and commercial science (pharma). Collaboration between small and mid-size biotech and academia would make much more sense, to capture the industrial reflexes surrounding DMPK and validation while sharing a culture of discovery and innovation. This would nicely offset the dwindling early-stage funding/profitability in venture capital. The view from our lab however suggests that issues surrounding COI and ownership render these relationships very difficult to manage - though some forward-thinking medical research centers have found paths forward.

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44. Nick K on June 18, 2012 6:28 AM writes...

Maybe I'm just thick, but I fail to understand how a bunch of grad students and PI's will be more successful at discovering new drugs than dedicated med chemists with years of experience. Could someone enlighten me?

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45. Rick Wobbe on June 18, 2012 7:35 AM writes...

Nick K, #44 As you probably know, "discovering new drugs" is a process that has so many steps, especially these days, that the point at which a new drug has in fact been "discovered" is subject to debate. I hope we can all agree on one thing as historically proven: it depends on knowledge from a variety of places and that it goes better when impediments to exchange of that knowledge is minimized. For those who know the story, the statins are one excellent example. Bottling that lightening is one nominal intent of initiatives like the Pfizer-Harvard project.

I think the real problem lies not in the existence of academic-industry partnerships, but in how they are created and managed. Historically, the most effective way this has happened is when it starts at the front line, scientist-scientist level bad grows from there. By the same token, the least effective way of doing this is via the top-down, overly "strategic", management consultant-sanctioned approach exemplified by Pfizer-Harvard. Rather than counter-productively arguing like children who has the best players for the job, we should recognize that the endeavor requires collaboration, then refocus the argument on who is best positioned to establish and care for these relationships: business managers or the scientists who actually work on the front lines. As long as we waste time finding fault with each other's scientists, business management will gladly fill the void with the ill-conceived ideas and blame the scientists when they fail. Success has many fathers.

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46. Rick Wobbe on June 18, 2012 7:41 AM writes...

Unfortunate typo in my post #45 "it starts at the front line, scientist-scientist level bad grows from there" should read "it starts at the front line, scientist-scientist level AND grows from there". Freudian?

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47. Pete P on June 18, 2012 12:30 PM writes...

Nick K, #44, it's quite simple, really. In the mind (for want of a better word) of the average corporate head of R&D, it's because people who are currently employed by universities must by definition be "smarter" than you, I or anyone else who used to be.

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48. Nick K on June 18, 2012 2:06 PM writes...

Rick Wobbe: Mmm, not entirely convinced by your argument. As Pete P says, the underlying message is that academics and their acolytes are more highly esteemed by the C-suite people than us industry grunts.

Pete P: Good to know that my value as a med chemist plummeted the day I left academia and went into Pharma?!

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49. anon on June 18, 2012 2:44 PM writes...

#33 "The flaw in this plan is that academics, no matter how gifted, are clueless as to how to do drug discovery"

What about the ever-growing collection of PI's now in academia who put drugs into the clinic during their former careers in industry, and then were downsized or told to move where they did not want to move? Did they forget everything when they acquired a new postal address?

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50. Rick Wobbe on June 18, 2012 5:32 PM writes...

Nick K 48, And I would agree with you. My point, which I could have done a better job making, is that it's a shame that the esteem of the C-suite crowd trumps the real factors that have made industry-academia collaborations work: that they were initiated and worked at the "grunt" level. For either industrial or academic researchers to claim sole possession of all the critical skills and insight necessary to discover a drug is simply inconsistent with history. Moreover, statements like "How could these academics possibly teach us anything about discovering a drug that we haven't already thought of?" (actually heard more than once) are cripplingly arrogant and counterproductive.

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