Over the past year, the University of Helsinki and the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa have concluded framework agreements on research cooperation with several significant pharmaceutical companies. GSK is the latest partner.
“The agreement is a continuation of the projects conducted together with the Hospital District of Helsinki and Uusimaa with international pharmaceutical companies. Such cooperation aims at increasing clinical studies on campus, boosting the impact and cost-effectiveness of health care, and generating new research opportunities for doctors, researchers and students,” explains Professor Risto Renkonen, dean of the Faculty of Medicine.
“HUS has actively sought new opportunities for corporate cooperation during the past year. It would be wonderful if every patient could have the right and the opportunity to take part in a clinical trial. The focus must be on the patient as we develop new, safe, effective, personalised treatments,” says Professor Anne Pitkäranta, research director at HUS.
GSK has recently sought more cooperation with universities and has established a dedicated programme entitled Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc). Research groups from universities can propose promising new drug discovery ideas in the programme. If the proposed idea passes the meticulous evaluation at GSK, a cooperation project is launched, allowing academic researchers to take advantage of the pharmaceutical company’s extensive pool of experts and infrastructure as well as to receive financial support to further their research.
New drug discoveries are increasingly being developed in cooperation between pharmaceutical companies and academic research groups. The shared goal is to bring even better drug treatments to patients, according to Docent Juhana J. Idänpään-Heikkilä, medical director at GSK, and she continues: “The agreement with the University of Helsinki and HUS is another concrete example of how Finland’s growth strategy for the health sector is bearing fruit.”
PROMISING START TO COOPERATION
The European leaders of the DPAc programme visited Helsinki in February 2017 to explain the programme to researchers from the University, HUS and the Academic Medical Center Helsinki (AMCH). In addition to general introductions, researchers were able to meet with GSK representatives in person and propose cooperation projects.
“Researchers from more than 20 research groups participated in the meetings, and some of their proposals have led to follow-up talks with GSK. The groups also received advice on how to develop their projects to make them potential DPAc cooperation ventures in the future. A new DPAc visit is already being planned,” reveals the director of the Faculty of Medicine’s Research Programs Unit, Assistant Professor Henna Tyynismaa, who coordinated the meeting.
Tyynismaa points out that cooperation proposals for the DPAc programme can be submitted at any time, and feedback has been promised within a week of submission. DPAc is particularly interested in the most promising drug discovery ideas.
RESEARCH SUPPORTS THE NATIONAL ECONOMY
The Academic Medical Center Helsinki (AMCH) is among the European top ten and the global top 50 medical communities according to several indicators. Its research results are also used efficiently. Over the past ten years, research conducted on campus has resulted in a new innovation impacting diagnosis or treatment at HUS practically every week.
“We have a great deal of high-level research on the campus, but so far we have been less than active in applying it. One of the strategic changes at the University of Helsinki is that generating economic growth for Finland has been designated as a goal alongside research and teaching,” says Renkonen.
During the past year, the University of Helsinki and HUS have concluded eight framework agreements with international pharmaceutical corporations and major health technology companies. ” The agreements have required lengthy preparation, but we are now ready to begin developing the cooperation proper,” says Renkonen happily.
Dean Risto Renkonen, University of Helsinki, tel. 02 941 25111, firstname.lastname@example.org
Research Director Anne Pitkäranta, HUS, tel. 040 643 0511, email@example.com
Medical Director Juhana J. Idänpään-Heikkilä, GSK, tel. 050 420 0414, firstname.lastname@example.org