Scheme: Industry Fellowship
Organisation: University of St Andrews
Dates: Feb 2007-Jan 2011
Summary: Earlier this year, Reuters carried the news that pharmaceutical giants, GSK, Pfizer and AstraZeneca were ending research in a variety of psychiatric illness – including schizophrenia, bipolar disease, depression and anxiety – because these areas represent “discovery work that does not pay its way”. However, the medical need and the burden of psychiatric disease are widely acknowledged. Furthermore, the scientific potential for solving some of the issues is considerable. Nevertheless, it is unreasonable to expect the public to pay for an approach that does not deliver cost-effective benefits. My research, sponsored by the Royal Society and working with scientists in the pharmaceutical industry, is concerned with the development of novel compounds for psychiatric illness and, additionally, with the theoretical and methodological issues in ‘translational neuroscience’ – how the interface of preclinical (often ‘blue-skies’) research with clinically-relevant research can be managed. The goal of bringing to market new therapies for currently untreated psychiatric conditions, such as the cognitive deficits of schizophrenia and depression, requires not merely the discovery of new molecules for new targets, but also new models and approaches. I am concerned specifically with identifying the practical and theoretical issues that sometimes prevent the success of translational research, and developing strategies and methodology to overcome these problems.