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Professor Verity Brown

International Scientific Seminar

Professor Verity Brown, former Industry Fellow, organised an International Scientific Seminar in September 2011. During her Fellowship, working with scientists in the pharmaceutical industry, it had become clear that even close collaboration between scientists in industry and academia was failing to address the fundamental challenge for drug development for mental illnesses: a drug pipeline that was running dry.

Organising a seminar was a valuable opportunity to discuss with key players a strategy for identifying new routes forward for sustainable research into psychiatric drugs.

Professor Brown has said of the seminar: “The event brought together academics and psychiatrists involved in preclinical and clinical research, top scientists from key pharmaceutical companies, and other international specialists. Being at the Royal Society's Chicheley Hall ensured excellent facilities for round-table scientific discussion. The organisation of the event was a pleasure as the logistics of the meeting were dealt with by the team at the Royal Society and Chicheley Hall.

All of the participants considered the issues of why mental illnesses are still stigmatised, and why new treatments are so elusive. Each participant gave a short presentation to give their perspective, which ranged from the issues around the recruitment and training of psychiatrists, the classification of mental illness, funding priorities of international governments and pharmaceutical companies, and the state of the art of experimental medicine. The discussion around these interrelated issues was wide-ranging but the meeting remained highly focussed on the topic, aided by the fact that the venue is perfectly suited for a meeting of this type.”

The meeting provided an ideal opportunity to bring together perspectives that are not often discussed in the same room; in this sense it was different to the usual scientific discussion meeting. Also, after the meeting, the group published a short piece in Nature and an article in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.