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New neighbours Novartis, launch UK headquarters in White City

 12 February 2020   Institute News

On 11 February Imperial’s White City campus was flooded by leaders from academia, the pharmaceutical industry, start-ups and venture capitalists to hear about Novartis research, innovation and collaboration.

Novartis were out in force with Dr Jay Bradner, President of Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) and his team highlighting how Novartis values discovery science and understands that some transformational innovations can take a generation to deliver.

In his overview Bradner highlighted the $2.6 Billion NIBR invest in research and early development, and the 8 disease areas they are focussing their ‘drug hunting’ on: Autoimmune, transplantation and inflammation; Cardiovascular, renal and metabolism; Neglected and tropical diseases; Musculoskeletal diseases; Neuroscience; Ophthalmology; Cancer; and Respiratory diseases.

Dr Sue Stevenson, Executive Director, Exploratory Disease Area X, NIBR followed Bradner and spoke about the coming of age of cell and gene therapy at Novartis. NIBR Directors Dr James Rush and Dr Chris Brain gave more scientifically focussed talks about their projects on the development of an anti-CD40 antibody for treatment of autoimmune disease and creation of a CDK4/6 inhibitor for the treatment of advanced breast cancer.

Speaking at the symposium Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London referred to a comparative study she undertook of White City and Kendall Square, Cambridge, USA for Imperial’s Council. In it she said that she wrote: “it all took off when Novartis moved in”, referring to the company’s move to MIT’s neighbourhood in 2002.

The scientific symposium was followed by a reception at the new UK headquarters for Novartis across the road in White City Place. Bertrand Bodson, Group Chief Digital Officer announced the expansion of Novartis Biome to the UK. Biome is a global network of innovation hubs aimed at strengthening the connection and interaction between Novartis and partners from across the digital ecosystem.

Earlier in the day the new UK headquarters were officially opened by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock MP.

At the opening Haseeb Ahmad, country president for Novartis UK, said:

“The UK life sciences sector is at a crossroads, with many opportunities available for cutting-edge innovation and partnerships. White City is fast becoming one of the UK’s most exciting new hubs for life sciences, and puts us in the perfect position to continue working with our partners to find new ways to innovate and collaborate to build a healthier tomorrow.”

The MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences welcome our new neighbours to White City and look forward to exploring collaboration opportunities in research, training and engagement.