University-Industry Research Interactions by Herbert I. Fusfeld

By Herbert I. Fusfeld

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Whereas in the strictly medical field the evaluation of new active entities in human beings is in the foreground, frontier scientific experimental work is more dominant in the pharmacological and biological areas. The type of collaboration is also changing with time. In earlier years, it was often possible that a given chemical substance, particularly natural products, isolated or synthesized in a university laboratory, could be developed easily and directly into a pharmaceutical preparation by the industry.

In the past, the form which this interaction has taken is informal networking, rather than formal research agreements. Pharmaceutical ties with universities are primarily through personnel exchange, personal contacts, and participation in scientific conferences and advisory committees. The level of participation in these activities is probably greater for the drug industry than most other industries. Many drug companies have 100 or more university consultants on retainer. In the United States, in comparison to other industrial sectors, many pharmaceutical firms supply on company salary, free to the university, a relatively large number of adjunct professors (30-75) to university departments (Peters and Fusfeld, 1983a).

The high speed of transfer of scientific results into industrial products in the US is possible because of the open atmosphere that exists between universities and industry, and because a number of mechanisms have been developed which allow interactions to become strong and effective while still leaving each partner free to pursue its respective interests and societal functions. We are on our way in Europe, but I have a feeling that we still have a long way to go to reach the American level of cooperation.

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