Professor Hugh Brady says that Imperial is working to speed development of innovations that have potential to be as transformational as penicillin.
In a keynote at the international biotechnology expo BioJapan 2023 this week, Professor Hugh Brady, President of Imperial College London, told the audience that Imperial is making major moves to take advances such as gene therapies, immunotherapies and medical AI more quickly from university labs and into clinical settings where they can improve lives.
Imperial has a strong recent record of creating major medical innovations and supporting their success, and we’re working to take our ecosystem to the next level. Professor Hugh Brady President of Imperial College London
Professor Brady said that some of these advances “have potential to be as transformational as penicillin”, which was discovered by Sir Alexander Fleming as a researcher at St Mary’s Hospital, now part of Imperial. While this was a pivotal moment, Professor Brady said “it was through years of collaboration by universities, companies, and governments that penicillin was turned from a scientific curiosity into a medical product that made profound improvements to the treatment of infectious diseases.”
Citing recent success stories such as a gene therapy platform under development by the Gene Therapy Consortium in collaboration with commercial partners and the new spinout company AlveoGene, along with advances in self-amplifying RNA for vaccines and therapeutics, he said that that Imperial is combining a number of ingredients to accelerate the translation of research breakthroughs into medical products.
These include ongoing investment totalling $3.5 billion in Imperial’s Hammersmith and White City deep tech campus, which hosts a range of cutting-edge interdisciplinary research programmes, partnerships with global universities and businesses, advanced research facilities, training for entrepreneurs, and new sources of support and investment for startup companies. “Imperial has a strong recent record of creating major medical innovations and supporting their success, and we’re working to take our ecosystem to the next level,” he said.
Professor Brady was speaking by video to the audience of academic and business biotechnology experts in Yokohama, Japan, where Imperial also had a large in-person delegation alongside other UK universities. Professor Graham Cooke, Vice Dean (Research) for Imperial’s Faculty of Medicine, gave a joint keynote covering Imperial’s contribution to the COVID-19 response, which included trials to rapidly evaluate possible treatments and track transmission, and human challenge studies that helped evaluate diagnostics. Work on pandemic preparedness continues at Imperial’s Institute of Infection.
Watch Professor Hugh Brady's keynote speech to BioJapan 2023
Global innovation and collaboration
Professor Cooke said: "Imperial has world-leading expertise in medicine and life sciences and our research interests overlap and align closely with the biotechnology sector in Japan. International collaboration is essential to solving global challenges and Japan has long been an important partner for Imperial across research and innovation. BioJapan provides a fantastic platform to build upon these successful collaborations and we look forward to further deepening our relationship with Japanese companies and institutions."
He was joined by a cohort of Imperial academics, industry partnerships and commercialisation specialists. The Imperial delegation also included several startups from Imperial staff and students, whose innovations include:
- Solutions for musculoskeletal health from Biomex.
- A device to alleviate the symptoms of Parkinson’s from Charco Neurotech.
- A self-use cervical assessment tool from Matrix.
- Synthetic organ models for medical device development from Organa
- A platform that connects travellers to healthcare services from ROAM Medical
- A navigation system to help surgeons position implants from Smart Surgical Solutions.
Dr Vjera Magdalenic-Moussavi, Director of Industry Partnerships and Commercialisation (Medicine) at Imperial College London, said: “It’s great to be here with such as fantastic cohort of Imperial experts and innovators. We’re making it a priority to deepen our links with companies based here in Japan, building on our strong partnerships with pharmaceutical companies such as Ono, Shionogi and Sumitomo, as well as leading universities and Japan-headquartered global businesses in several other sectors.”
Article text (excluding photos or graphics) © Imperial College London.
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