Friday, May 16, 2014

Trounson Calls for Closer Ties Between Biotech Industry and Academic Research

Alan Trounson, the departing president of the California stem cell agency, was in Australia earlier this month beating the drum for tighter links between science and industry.

Trounson, a native Australian, said researchers are “starving” in Australia and did not have much good to say either about the amount of the federal research funding in the United States.

According to an account on probonoaustralia, Trounson, who is now working as a senior adviser to the California agency, declared,
"What is hampering our smartness in converting high quality science discoveries to community benefit? Is Australian science research sustainable without the ability to expand beyond the publicly funded institutional base of universities, medical centers and (the national science agency)? Where is our biotech industry? Who spans the (funding) valley of death? There is a distinct scarcity of industry connecting with the Australian medical research community and a lack of venture investment in the biosciences."

He continued, 
“We need to really encourage the very smart academics to become interested in applying their discoveries for the community benefit – universities have to change how they recognize and reward scientists who enter this pathway – not penalize them. 
“It isn’t about number of publications or grants... – these are not the measure for making the innovative contributions needed. They probably handicap the conversion to a more effective system that the community will recognize and endorse. 
“The current federal grant system is broken in the USA...and would not be any better here. Money is trickling down an unsustainable pipeline that fails to encourage developments of use to the community. 
“The system must be fixed despite the inertia that exists even among the majority of scientists. We will have no viable research environment soon if we continue to look away from the problems that are evident and are turning away the smart young scientists.”

Trounson spoke during the 10th anniversary symposium of veski, an Australian group he helped to found. It is designed to foster an “innovation economy.”

Trounson's portrayal of Australian science was not all bleak. He cited major achievements scored by researchers down under. He said,
“We might have cause to be optimistic about the next 20 years! Maybe even expect Australia to have a minister of science driving high tech developments and a strong biotechnology industry employing scientists and medical graduates maturing in universities and research centers.”

Trounson's last day at CIRM is June 30. He is returning to his family in Australia.
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1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:40 PM

    The Strategic Partnership III Award reviews are in:

    Asterias Biotherapeutics / BioTime will get $14 million to restart spinal cord injury trial with GRNOPC1

    8. Consideration of applications for RFA 13-03A Strategic Partnership III Awards (Track A).
    • Staff Recomendations for Strategic Partnership Tier 2