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Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry in supercluster initiative promises massive boost for UK life sciences

A Joint & Related Inflammatory Diseases Capability Cluster that has Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry among its academic partners is one of two new initiatives launched by the Universities Minister David Willetts at the recent Association of British Pharmaceuticals Industry (ABPI)/BioIndustry Association Conference in London.

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Professor Costantino Pitzalis
Professor Costantino Pitzalis

The initiatives – the Therapeutic Capability Clusters led by the Office for Strategic Coordination of Health and Research (OSCHR) and the Medical Research Council (MRC)/APBI Inflammation and Immunology Initiative - are designed to boost collaboration between academics, clinicians and the life sciences industry.

The Therapeutic Capability Clusters initiative is designed to help deliver the medicines of the future faster to UK patients and secure the UK’s position as the global partner of choice for R&D collaboration. Offering intellectual excellence, patient access, and a single point of contact for industry to engage with, these Clusters will ensure the UK has the commercial and cultural environment to support strong collaboration and to maintain and grow the UK’s world-class R&D. This is crucial as the UK faces competition from other countries for highly-mobile private sector investment.

Professor Costantino Pitzalis, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry Cluster Lead, said: "This initiative will bring much value to both School and Trust providing unparalleled opportunities for research and service improvement, as well as availing our patients population with the most innovative therapeutics."

The MRC/ABPI Inflammation and Immunology Initiative – in which Professor Pitzalis leads the Barts and The School of Medicine and Dentistry partnership participation, is founded on plans for the MRC to invest more than £10 million in consortia in two pilot disease areas, complementing the Therpeuatic Capability Clusters programme.  The initiative represents a new approach in funding by the MRC, bringing together academics and industry at the early planning stages to develop a stratified approach to disease (targeting the right treatments to the right people), enabling effective clinical trials, as well as identifying novel biomarkers, mechanisms and targets.

Dr Richard Barker, Director General of the ABPI and co-chair of the Supercluster initiative with Sir John Bell said: "The Therapeutic Capability Clusters Initiative, born in our work with the Office for Life Sciences, will create true comparative advantage for the UK in translational medicine. This programme capitalises on our vibrant and economically important life science sector, to attract increased award investment from the global pharmaceutical industry.  We are also delighted to partner with the MRC in tackling illnesses such as inflammatory lung and joint diseases which cause thousands of premature deaths every year. This is good news for the NHS patients of the future."

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