Consortia cross-talk

Collaboration across translational research consortia increases effectiveness

There's no doubt that the consortium model is here to stay, but the challenge now is to avoid creating a bureaucracy of committees with duplicate missions and redundancies of effort. The answer might be a network of coordinated consortia, but bringing more academics into the fold could be critical for success.

Consortia have emerged as a specialized form of public-private partnership that join multiple partners from academic, industry, regulatory and other government or non-government organizations to achieve common goals. The model has gained traction in the last decade as stakeholders have looked for ways to make academics' work more directly relevant to the requirements for developing drugs, and bring fresh thinking to pharmas that want access to cutting edge science.

Over the past three years, at least 20 new consortia have been formed worldwide to promote drug development (see Table: Consortia composition).

However, as the number of consortia has grown, partners have started to ask themselves how they can measure results and ensure the model advances productivity.

"We focused in the past about how to get collaboration within a consortium or within a collaborative effort, but the time has come that we really have to think about how we collaborate across these consortia to make sure we're leveraging the limited resources we all have and we can more quickly advance to the objectives we want to achieve," said Martha Brumfield at a meeting last month of the EU's Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) and the Critical Path Institute (C-Path).

Brumfield is president and CEO of C-Path.

The advantage of consortia, she said, is that "by joining forces, we speed up the process, prevent duplication of efforts, decrease the number of animals used and save time

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