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6th Summer School on Medicines (SSM6) comes to an end

This year, 49 students from different countries participated in the course

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The 6thSummer School on Medicines (SSM6), held from 6 to 11 July at the Barcelona Science Park, came to an end on Friday with very positive results in terms of the number of students and their active participation.

This year there were 49 students of different nationalities: 21 from Catalonia, 4 from Valencia, 3 from the Balearic Islands, 1 from Madrid, 7 from Galicia, 1 from Portugal, 6 from France and 6 from Canada. The group was also heterogeneous in terms of background, with participants from academia (university graduates and Masters, PhD and postdoc students), from the research arena, and from the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. For one week, more than 30 professors and experts from Canada, Switzerland, France and Spain gave participants global training covering all of the phases of drug discovery and development, from initial concept to market, including issues like funding, public/private partnerships, market access and open innovation.

The school was organized by Biocat, with support from University Paul Sabatier, Toulouse III, CAPTOR Project–Investissement d’Avenir, the INNABIOSANTE Foundation – Toulouse Cancer, the University of Bordeaux, the University of Montreal, the University Drug Research Group (GRUM), the Barcelona Science Park (PCB), CataloniaBio, the University of Barcelona, the Foundation InnDEA Valencia, the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB), the Biotech Cluster of the Balearic Islands (BIOIB) and Campus Vida. SSM6 was organized under the framework of the European TRANSBIO SUDOE project, which aims to promote collaboration among research bodies and companies in southern Europe to improve the transfer of knowledge to market.

The SSM6 program included several sessions on case studies, in which students worked in groups to tackle pending issues to resolve each specific case. The training also featured masterclasses and a visit to the Almirall R&D center, which helped firm up the theory learned in the classroom. During the visit, students had the opportunity to see the whole research process, from basic research into the structure and composition of molecules through clinical testing and drug-packaging machinery.

“We were lucky this year to have the TRANSBIO SUDOE project as a partner, providing financial aid for more than half of the students. This has allowed us to put together this group of 49 students from around the world who, thanks to the teaching methodology that encourages participation and interaction, have made the most of the training", explained Jordi Fàbrega, chair of the SSM6 organizing committee and Biocat director of Business Development.

“This edition of the SSM has definitively consolidated its place as one of the most innovative, results-oriented programs in the world, given that it covers the whole drug-development value chain and does so through the experience of cutting-edge research centers, the pharmaceutical industry’s business-management knowledge and the administration’s vision. Contributions from both professors and students created an international atmosphere that encourages sharing of experiences and expertise, as well as clearly demonstrating the need for public/private collaboration to revalorize research in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical sector,” explained Dr. Jordi Quintana, chair of the SSM6 scientific committee, PCB director of Business Development and Innovation, and director of the Drug Discovery Platform (PDD-PCB). 

Open Innovation Industrial Symposium

SSM6 also featured the Open Innovation Industrial Symposium, held on Thursday 10 July in the PCB auditorium. The aim of this symposium was to provide a place to debate and reflect on key points of the new open-innovation model as applied to the drug-discovery process. In addition to the SSM6 students, 30 professionals from the sector also participated in order to delve deeper into this hot topic in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry.

The session opened with a conference by Marc Ramis Castelltort, CEO of Tech and Business Innovation (TBI), on business development and connecting innovative companies with market needs. One of the issues Ramis highlighted was that the biopharmaceutical sector is in urgent need of a change in mentality. “The days when research and innovation could take place separately are over. They have to be done together, both in the public and private arenas,” said Ramis.

The panel discussion was moderated by Ignasi Biosca, CEO of the Reig Jofré Group and president of CataloniaBIO, and featured a panel of experts from the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry and from technology-transfer offices: Antonio Gómez, senior scientist at Janssen-Cilag; José Julio Martin-Plaza, director of Compound Screening and Profiling at GlaxoSmithKline; Carlos Plata, CSO at Esteve; Carme Verdaguer, managing director of the Fundació Bosch i Gimpera (FBG); and José Vicente Terencio, COO at Gri-Cel.

The seventh edition of the Summer School on Medicines (SSM7) will take place in Montréal (Quebec) in June 2015, with the same aim of attracting students and professors from around the world. 


Group photo from SSM6 - © Hector Fuentes.