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Influential life sciences alliance responds to digital acceleration

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The biosample industry crisis in waiting.

A global alliance of life science organisations has set out a new plan to address changing needs in the sector amid a rapid acceleration in digital transformation.

The Pistoia Alliance is made up of life science firms, tech and service providers and academic groups working to lower barriers to innovation in life science and healthcare R&D.

It was conceived in 2007 and incorporated in 2009 by representatives of AstraZeneca, GSK, Novartis and Pfizer who met at a conference in Pistoia, Italy.

The alliance has now announced plans to reorganise its project portfolio into three new themes – Emerging Science and Technology, Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of R&D, and Empowering the Patient – and has hired three “innovation leads” for each area.

It said: “The themes will build on the work of the Alliance from the past fifteen years; helping R&D-led organisations tackle the biggest global health challenges both today and in the future, as identified in the Pistoia Alliance 2030 Report, with the ultimate goal of getting treatments to patients faster.”

Dr Steve Arlington, president of the alliance, said: “Our mission has always been to advance public health through collaboration. As we build on our existing successes, these themes will allow us to align ourselves with the biggest challenges across the life sciences industry.

“The alliance has always recognised that tackling major health challenges requires a stable underlying infrastructure. Areas like data governance and standards are just as important as headline grabbing “moonshot” initiatives.

“We give our members the most powerful forum for collaboration to take on such challenges together. We break down walls between companies and overcome cultural barriers to collaboration to deliver projects with tangible outcomes that are catalysts to achieving bigger goals. Now, we’re asking members to come forward and suggest their ideas under these new themes.”

The alliance has appointed three new experts to lead collaboration efforts in these areas: Imran HaqAnca Ciobanu and Linda Kasim.

The themes are:

Emerging Science and Technology: This theme will explore the potential of nascent technology to reshape R&D. The Alliance will look to accelerate the adoption of emerging technologies and be the first port of call for members accessing it for the first time; it will initially focus on Quantum Computing and the Microbiome. This theme is led by Imran Haq, who has worked at the interface between industry and early-stage life sciences research throughout his career, including at top tier universities, with large pharma, and within start-up companies.

Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of R&D: This theme will aim to drive transformation and reduce barriers to innovation in R&D by solving common pain points that scientists encounter. For example, data governance issues, company reluctance to adopt new technologies, or difficulty providing use cases that prove value. This theme is led by Anca Ciobanu, who is a leading consultant and product manager to global pharma and biotechnology companies.

Empowering the Patient: This theme will build trust in the industry by engaging the patient to play a role in co-designing research and services. Projects will decrease the burden on the patient, encourage shared decision making, and tackle ethics and privacy issues to build trust. It will also look to find opportunities to strengthen patient-pharma relationships ensuring early collaboration and explore opportunities to leverage digital health using patient generated data to develop more meaningful clinical endpoints when designing clinical trials. This theme is led by Linda Kasim, a leader in clinical trials with experience at numerous global top pharma companies.

Dr Jim Sullivan, CEO Vanqua Bio, and member of the Pistoia Alliance Advisory Board, said: “What sets the Pistoia Alliance apart is that it exists for the benefit of its members, bringing together research-focused experts from multiple disciplines to make change happen.

“I am confident these themes will ensure the Alliance helps its members to make even more breakthroughs.

These themes will not only support innovation in the lab, they will bring new therapeutics to fruition sooner and produce results that reach back to patients – who are the most important stakeholder of all.”

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