During a distinguished ceremony last week, Mene Pangalos, our EVP IMED Biotech Unit and Global Business Development, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science from the University of Glasgow for his contributions to UK life sciences.
At the ceremony to mark his degree, Professor Iain McInnes, Muirhead Chair of Medicine and Professor of Rheumatology, described Mene’s pharmaceutical career – prior to AZ at Bristol Myers Squibb, Janssen, GlaxoSmithKline and Wyeth - as “remarkable”.
Prof McInnes focused on the many collaborations Mene has led in Scotland, specifically at the University of Glasgow, one of Scotland’s leading institutions. These included establishing the pioneering Translational Medicine Research Collaboration, from which arose the highly acclaimed Scottish Early Rheumatoid Arthritis Study during Mene’s time at Wyeth; to the creation of the AZ GLAZgo Discovery Centre, a highly integrated model that offers a transformational approach to academic-industrial collaboration for uncovering the underlying causes of respiratory diseases. More recently, Mene’s commitment to genome sequencing through the Stratified Medicine Scotland initiative, aiming to pioneer precision medicine principles in a wide range of diseases was also referenced.
Iain went on to describe Mene’s overall responsibility for research and early development at AZ, leading a global science unit employing over 2,400 scientists, and specifically highlighted Mene’s commitment to science, transforming R&D productivity through the development and implementation of its ‘5Rs’ framework. This has driven greater collaboration with academic, non-governmental organisations and peer organisations and importantly pioneered programmes to promote novel ‘Open Innovation’ partnerships and foster a ‘science-driven culture’ that rewards truth-seeking behaviours. This is not just within AZ but also working collaboratively with over 200 academic institutions around the UK to help drive and maintain the UK’s position as a world leader for life science research and development. Mene has published more than 140 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and has continued to mentor post docs and PhD students, as well as serving as an editor of books and journals in neuroscience. He joins similar leading scientists in the UK, such as Sir Paul Nurse who also received this accolade in 2017.
When asked during the ceremony what had motivated him throughout his career, Mene said: “I find nothing more rewarding or a privilege than to endeavour to turn science into medicine. Developing drugs is exceptionally difficult but when you are lucky enough to see one of your medicines reach the market and impact a patient’s life - there is nothing more rewarding or motivating.” To the graduands in the Bute Hall, his advice was “make sure you love what you do…and with a passion. Don’t be afraid to rake risks and don’t be afraid if you fail. If you don’t fail every now and again, you probably aren’t innovating enough.”
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