AstraZeneca Scientist is Appointed as Royal Society of Chemistry Industrial Associate to Advance Open Innovation

Monday, 24 November 2014

I am honoured to have recently accepted an industrial associate position at the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) on a one year part-time secondment. The RSC is one of the largest and most influential learned societies in the world, with 49,000 members and a global reach across Asia, the Americas and Europe. My role at the RSC is to advise on new initiatives designed to support the sharing of knowledge through open innovation.

I have worked as a discovery chemist at AstraZeneca for over a decade, and in the past five years have been involved with many open innovation projects. During this time I observed first-hand the many benefits of sharing knowledge and research goals. What’s more, I have been invited to share my insights at conferences, and have authored an article on the subject for Drug Discovery Today.

The RSC provides online tools such as structural databases and literature search engines that act as a central resource for chemists. However, in this new age of knowledge sharing and open innovation the RSC is looking to expand their provision of tools that can facilitate collaboration.

One of the main projects that I will be working on is the National Compound Collection initiative, which I will be leading during its transition from pilot phase to a national scheme. The National Compound Collection will be a library of thousands of compounds that have been synthesised over many years, for example by PhD students, which could be currently languishing, unused, on dusty shelves! The public availability of this data, much of which has been paid for through government-funded Research Council grants, is something that is supported by the former Minister of State for Universities and Science, David Willetts. By accessing this extensive library, researchers will be able to identify and potentially to screen a much greater diversity of compounds than is available in other databases, including those in less well-researched chemical classes.

Industrial Associateships such as mine bring benefits to both the RSC, and to the pharmaceutical industry. I am looking forward to using my experience to highlight some of the niggling issues that currently slow down research, and to then help identify solutions that can make a real difference. This partnership also strengthens the relationship between the RSC and research chemists, so that the RSC can develop resources that better address the needs of chemists in the modern research environment.

Drug discovery is a tricky and expensive business. The complexity of the diseases and molecular targets involved has increased dramatically, and the drug discovery landscape now has more obstacles than ever before. I know that open innovation is the key to overcoming these challenges, and I look forward to being part of the RSC’s vision for the future by helping to facilitate collaborative efforts that will enable this new way of working.

A word from the RSC: David Clark, Head of Emerging Markets, says ‘we are delighted that David will be joining us, defining and helping to drive forward our strategy for open innovation in the pharmaceutical sector. We have very exciting initiatives underway and David’s extensive knowledge and experience will help shape their success’.