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Boehringer Ingelheim: big pharma mentoring for researchers

30 Jun 2021

Boehringer Ingelheim, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, is supporting University of Edinburgh researchers to develop the commercial potential of their work.

Through its Office Hours initiative, Boehringer Ingelheim met members of five research teams from across the University’s College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine, to offer mentoring and feedback and to give an insider view of big pharma.

It is the first time that Germany-headquartered Boehringer Ingelheim has offered the Office Hours event, a format of its Grass Roots programme, in Scotland.

‘Exquisite’ academics

Dr Laura Corradini, External Innovation Manager Research Beyond Borders at Boehringer Ingelheim, said Edinburgh research in the drug discovery and therapeutics field is “a fast-growing ecosystem nurtured by state-of-art preclinical and clinical facilities and exquisite academic expertise focused on solving the biggest medical challenges”.

The initiative was supported by Edinburgh Innovations, which helped bring the two sides together, selected the participants and hosted the one-day, one-to-one tailored mentoring meeting online.

Heart by-pass solutions

Among the researchers who met Boehringer Ingelheim was Professor Andy Baker, Head of the Centre for Cardiovascular Science, who is researching the use of Small Interfering RNA to prevent heart by-pass vein graft failure.

The event was very useful in understanding key perspectives that are important in the development of new therapies.

I received very insightful comments to my questions that will help me derive a more complete vision of where my translational approaches need additional support, expertise and direction.

Professor Andy Baker, Head of the Centre for Cardiovascular Science.

Cancer biomarkers

Dr Jenny Fraser, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Biomedical Sciences, discussed her research to develop blood biomarkers for advanced prostate cancer.

The BI team were all extremely generous with their time, knowledge and expertise, and really lovely people.
It was invaluable to obtain their perspective and insight into areas that I hadn’t considered. The discussion was also great in highlighting aspects of the science that would be relevant for experimental and clinical application and potentially foster collaboration or funding opportunities.
It was very worthwhile and inspiring event.

Dr Jenny Fraser, Senior Lecturer in Veterinary Biomedical Sciences.

Research questions

The three other research projects were: novel therapeutic targets for cardiometabolic conditions; underlying mechanisms of age-related disease risk; and seeking new targets for therapeutic options in colorectal cancer.

Researchers were invited to share non-confidential details of their work with Boehringer Ingelheim and pose a series of questions aiming to seek pharma opinion on how to progress their research and exploit its therapeutic potential in a sustainable manner.

Boehringer Ingelheim then selected senior research and development leaders with specialist knowledge of each researcher’s field to address those questions.

During a day-long event, Boehringer Ingelheim worked with each researcher in turn, addressing topics such as pre-clinical and clinical development, research strategy and business development.

We are always excited to meet scientific innovators in the Office Hours round table discussions. We feel that by sharing our drug discovery expertise we can contribute to the acceleration of the development of novel solutions addressing unmet medical needs to ultimately benefit patients.

Moreover, taking a break from our daily responsibilities to mentor the next generation of drug discovery strengthens our commitment to innovation.

Dr Laura Corradini, External Innovation Manager Research Beyond Borders, Boehringer Ingelheim.

Grass Roots

Boehringer Ingelheim’s Office Hours is part of the company’s Grass Roots programme designed to enable emerging science and technology by championing young life-science companies.

The Boehringer Grass Roots activities are designed to help bio-entrepreneurs increase their knowledge of how to progress their science along the value chain, and it is offered on a 'no strings attached' basis.

Related links

Boehringer Ingelheim Office Hours

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