Faculty of Pharmacy to celebrate 50th anniversary with a seminar about the future
19 October 2018
The Faculty of Pharmacy is celebrating 50 years at Uppsala University, a jubilee that will culminate on 26 October when academia and industry meet to join forces in paving the way for yet another half century of successful Swedish pharmaceutical research.
It is 50 years since Sweden’s only faculty of pharmacy was established at Uppsala University. On Friday 26 October the intensive jubilee year of 2018 will culminate with a symposium on “Drug therapies – challenges and possibilities”, which brings together Swedish and international experts to discuss what Sweden and Uppsala should do to retain their prominent position in drug research.
“The year has provided an opportunity to sum up how far our Faculty has come. Now we are looking ahead with a programme that offers much of value to everyone interested in the many aspects of drug development,” says Margareta Hammarlund-Udenaes, Dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy.
The Jubilee Symposium will be opened by Uli Hacksell, a prominent figure in pharmacy, who will speak under the heading of "A 50 year-perspective: Disruptive changes in science, drug development and politics" about the rapid developments being experienced by the field. He will be followed by representatives of industry and academia, including Stefan James, a Professor of Cardiology and one of the world’s most cited researchers, who will speak on the theme of "Creating a learning health care system with use of data bases".
“We close the day with a panel conversation on “How can Sweden remain successful in developing important medicines in the 50 years to come?”, an extremely relevant issue in a country whose drug industry has gone from a few large companies to many small biotech companies without pharmaceutical competence,” says Hammarlund-Udenaes.
These challenges have already resulted in several European and national collaborative projects intended to strengthen Sweden’s and Europe’s standing in the drugs area. One of the largest is EATRIS, the European infrastructure for translational medicine, which has created a completely new arena for the development of medical tools and treatments. Uppsala University is the Swedish node and Mats Larhed, National Director and Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, describes widespread interest in the possibilities that are now opening up.
“We have been commissioned by the Swedish Research Council to map needs among Swedish higher education institutions and drugs companies, and the response has been very positive. This small-scale industry wants to access the knowledge and resources of the academic world; researchers see added value in contributing their expertise. Major European cooperation has already got under way and the first signals point to substantial gains from this collaboration.
Sweden recently saw the launch of the Swedish Drug Delivery Forum, the first national initiative for drug delivery and drug formulation. With its academic hub at the Faculty of Pharmacy, the Forum combines research and industry in a cross-sectoral environment that is unique in our country.
“With financial support from Vinnova, Sweden is now shaping an arena for collaboration between academia and industry with a research programme characterised by excellent science and effective industrial utilisation, says Göran Alderborn, Professor of Pharmaceutial Technology.
The research programme is being conducted in three technology platforms: parenteral, oral, and pulmonary formulations. Forum-wide activities and interaction between the platforms guarantee transparency and influence for all parties. In the long term the initiative is expected to contribute to new drugs treatments and better drug treatments and to put activities in Swedish life sciences on a better footing.
“The Faculty of Pharmacy is a vigorous 50-year old with an international aura; at the same time, concerted action is needed if Sweden is to remain an attractive country for drug development. For instance, an investment is needed in doctoral training programmes, where we now see tendencies that give cause for concern. Industry is aware of the situation and is cofinancing doctoral studentships in areas including pharmacometrics, but this is not sufficient to maintain full pharmaceutical expertise in drug development, without which no ideas can become drugs,” says Hammarlund-Udenaes.
She goes on to note that drug research tends to fall into the gap between chemistry and medicine when major research funders announce calls for proposals, but also that it is up to the field of pharmacy to increase its visibility.
“Successful drug development generates enormous income for Sweden, making our activities a national concern. On Friday 26 October we are therefore assembling forces in Uppsala. In part, this is to draw attention to the prominent figures of the past half century and the work they have done. But it is, above all, the day when we get into the starting blocks for 50 new years of successful drug research in Sweden.”