How should academia and industry collaborate to generate new diagnostic tools and therapies for neurodegenerative diseases?

At a workshop in Turin in October 2017, JPND brought together some 20 representatives from academia and the private sector to address this question and to lay the foundations for future exchanges and collaborations.

In a series of frank and lively discussion sessions, participants offered their views on the scientific areas and activities where potential exists for improved collaboration and alignment. Participants represented a broad range of sectors, including pharma, diagnostics, imaging, medical devices, and healthcare providers, and about half of the private-sector attendees came from small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

During the discussions and in responses gathered by questionnaire, the three most important areas identified for potential collaboration – based on the scientific priorities of the JPND Research Strategy – were Developing therapies, preventive strategies and interventions, followed by Disease mechanisms and models and Origins of neurodegenerative diseases.

Participants identified science exchange programmes and infrastructure sharing as specific activities around which JPND and industry scientists could work together in the future. Other ideas identified from the brainstorming included organising a meeting for industry scientists focused on JPND research findings as well as inviting company scientists to join the review board for JPND calls. Direct participation in JPND calls was also encouraged, for example there could be a call to enable scientists who had developed promising products to interact with SMEs that specialized in product development.

JPND’s activities and new tools, including the Experimental Models for Parkinson’s Disease Database and the Global Cohort Portal, were also presented as part of the workshop.

The half-day meeting, which took place as part of the annual Meet in Italy for Life Sciences event, represented a first step toward improved engagement with industry and SMEs, and the outputs will be further analysed to improve JPND’s ongoing and future strategy for engagement with industry.