Over the past five years, I have led the Respiratory function team at MedImmune in Cambridge, UK. My responsibilities include direct development and creation of clinical development plans and strategies across respiratory and life cycle indications that align with commercial strategy and executing and interpreting clinical trials. I am proud of our work during this time to identify new approaches for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

In January 2018, I was promoted to Vice President of the Clinical Respiratory team at MedImmune. Already, I have been involved with successful progression of a number of treatments to Phase 3 trials. I have also developed and presented the industry’s perspective at the Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee on Atopic Dermatitis in Children. Development of new drugs for children with severe disease is extremely important to me because it not only affects the child’s health but also has wider impacts, including on their family.

I really enjoy working in the field of respiratory science as there is still a great unmet need in children, adults and the elderly, and particularly at MedImmune because as a team we are passionate about science and improving patient’s quality of life, which is fully aligned to my belief that we must put the patient at the centre of everything we do.

I have over 16 years’ experience in small molecule and biotherapeutics development, working with major pharmaceutical companies and contract research organisations. I initially worked on clinical programmes to treat auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, myasthenia graves, psoriasis and inflammatory bowel disease. Later in my career, I worked for GlaxoSmithKline as Director of clinical pharmacology and discovery medicine at both the Immuno-Inflammation Centre of Excellence, and the Neurology and Gastro-Intestinal Centre of Excellence. My successes included directing an early-phase programme for a molecule targeted at relieving the symptoms of multiple sclerosis and contributing to a successful regulatory submission to the Food and Drug Administration for a restless leg syndrome treatment.

My interest in respiratory science came further down the line and was the result of having many family members that are severely affected by respiratory disease. I was drawn to MedImmune because of their reputation for driving the science. It was clear to me that it was a place where I would have the opportunity to make a real difference in the areas that I am most passionate about.

I am a member of the Board of Examiners and a Fellow of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine at the Royal College of Physicians in the UK, both of which I enjoy. These roles are important to me because thy enable me to develop and mentor the next wave of pharmaceutical physicians. My successors in the field will face many new challenges and I want to do my part to help equip them for whatever they may face.


I really enjoy working in the field of respiratory science as there is still a great unmet need in children, adults and the elderly, and particularly at MedImmune because as a team we are passionate about science and improving patient’s quality of life, which is fully aligned to my belief that we must put the patient at the centre of everything we do.

Rene van der Merwe Vice President, Clinical Respiratory

LATEST PROJECT

Key Achievements

Developing and presenting the industry’s perspective at the Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee on Atopic Dermatitis in Children. Development of new drugs for children with severe disease is extremely important to me because it not only affects the child’s health but also has a big impact on their family.

One of my proudest moments was when I received the Healthcare Business Woman’s Association Rising Star 2017 – a recognition I would love to help other women achieve. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the support I receive from my team and from those I have met along the way, so to be able do the same for others is very important to me.

Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much." Innovation does not happen in a vacuum, nor does scientific development. Team work is everything. I am an advocate for personal professional development, and one of my greatest joys is helping others develop their skills – something I am honoured to be able to do in my current role at MedImmune.


Award

The Healthcare Business Woman’s Association Rising Star 2017