Updated on 25 June 2013
Is Industry-academy collaboration the only viable model for drug discovery? Is Singapore on the right path to emerge as a drug development hub in the region?
Traditionally, Singapore has not been a place for drug development and it is still growing to become one. Singapore has lot of building blocks such as investigational units, clinical research organizations (CROs), Clinical research centers and regulatory bodies such as Health Science Authority (HSA) and one needs to bring them together.
All the institutes or different research centers in Singapore need to club together to present a combined image and must learn to work in teams, a large multi-disciplinary team for long years. Currently, Singapore is driven by principal investigator (PI) research model where there is just one PI and a whole group is following. This model needs to be changed and a bigger involvement of all researchers is required.
What are the current challenges that Singapore is facing in the domain of drug discovery?
Singapore's biggest challenge is the availability of the right set of human resources, manpower and skilled researchers. Researchers today must learn to do applied research and not basic research. Also, the goal of researchers should not solely be to publish papers. Today researchers have poor frustration tolerance and in drug discovery lot of things go wrong. If a progress is not being followed in a positive way, it needs to be terminated and replaced with another project.
A PI driven group stays with the same specialty area for over many areas. Ideally one should stick with a project for long years only if it is successful or should terminate it otherwise. Singapore needs to build a tradition to implement this kind of model. It takes a long time and does not come by itself. These things are not taught in any university and cannot be bought from anywhere. It has to evolve.
Do you think Asia can contribute in replenishing the drying globval novel drug pipeline?
Academia is under huge pressure and pharmaceutical companies of the US are suffering at investor's hands. Asia could play a distinctive role, if it learns the trade. Asia has the capital, talent, and infrastructure but needs leadership to accomplish drug discovery targets.