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Jun 30, 2016
 |  BC Innovations  |  Strategy

Open house at NIBR

Why Bradner is applying his open innovation ideas at NIBR

Since stepping into his new role in March as president of Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR), the research arm of Novartis AG, James "Jay" Bradner has been busy making plans to experiment with open innovation models and increase the number and scope of the company's research collaborations. His goal is to pull the organization into the age of openness, joining a growing trend among pharmas to disclose more of their own activities in exchange for greater access to external discoveries.

"When NIBR started 13 years ago, the scientific landscape outside was different," Bradner told BioCentury. "Academic standards had small numbers of disruptive innovators. The biotech landscape was more boutique than it is today. Fast forward 13 years, and there are therapeutically relevant technologies emerging all around us."

For NIBR to benefit from those now, the organization will have to become better integrated into the scientific community, said Bradner.

He is one of five new faces on Novartis' executive committee since January, which saw several changes following the restructuring of the pharmaceuticals division in May into two business units: Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Novartis Oncology. Paul Hudson was recruited from AstraZeneca plc as CEO of the Novartis Pharmaceuticals business unit; Bruno Strigini, who was formerly president of Novartis Oncology, became CEO of the new Novartis Oncology business unit; Vasant Narasimhan, global head of development at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, added global head drug development and CMO to his roles; and Michael Ball was brought in to head Alcon, Novartis' ophthalmic business, which was moved into Novartis Pharmaceuticals with the split.

As just the second president of NIBR, Bradner takes the reins from Mark Fishman, who he says "innovated and assembled" the institutes.

Fishman redefined research at the organization by recruiting top researchers and clinicians, shaping the research agenda around patient needs and expanding into new fields such as immuno-oncology.

In particular, Fishman oversaw a series of high-profile collaborations, fostering a cancer alliance with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute that has spanned more than 20 years, and initiating the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell partnership with the University of Pennsylvania. Novartis is also...

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