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Pharmaceutical World Congress. An interview with its chair: Prof. dr. Meindert Danhof

In May 2017, the PIF will hold its three-year World Conference on Pharmaceutical Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden. We had an exclusive interview with the chair of the organizing committee: Professor dr. M. Danhof of Leiden University and LACDR.

For our introduction: what makes this world congress so special?

This World Conference is held every three years. It is the only world-wide congress that is aimed specifically at research of medicine-design, development and clinical application of medicines. The organization is in the hands of the International Pharmaceutical Federation (FIP), which represents the sector through its 139 member-organizations. I find it great to be in the position to shape the programme of this world congress and aim to make it very inspiring especially for students and young researchers as well.

This World Congress is at exactly the right moment. Today we are at a cross-roads in medicine-research. The enormous progress in systems biology and systems therapeutics will now open the doors to development of sophisticated personalized medicine. New therapies of the future will be personalized and aimed for cure. This means that new diagnostic tests and bio-markers will be needed to monitor the effects during treatment. At an individual level. An essential challenge, especially on the society-level, will be how to organize that this will lead to the benefit of patients worldwide. At this conference, we will connect these themes, and provide a roadmap for the development of Future Medicines for One World

What can visitors expect of this programme with such a wide scope of subjects?

Indeed, it really is a lot, isn't it? But I think that for the future of our scientists it is becoming more and more important to keep an overview over the entire field of research. To understand not only your own discipline, but also to have a good understanding how disciplines are interlinked. The future is multi-discplinary, and researchers will more often come to work in interdisciplinary teams of scientists. Especially in the area of public-private cooperation. That is why we choose for a format in which 5 specialized congresses on the 5 sub-disciplines of the pharmaceutical sciences, meet at the same time and at the same location.

The 5 sub-disciplines are:

  1. drug design, fundamental and translational sciences,
  2. drug delivery and drug targeting sciences,
  3. drug formulation & manufacturing sciences and quality assurance,
  4. regulatory sciences and
  5. science-based practice. With these themes we cover the entire field of the pharmaceutical sciences.

It might seem like five parallel conferences, however it is the aim to create the unique cross-connections between the disciplines. This will literally be created by the lay-out of the conference center in Stockholm: five different lecture halls will be located around a central square where the poster sessions, coffee breaks etc. will be held.

These disciplines appear to be in line with much of the research that is already performed by LACDR, LIC, CHDR and LUMC? A convenient coincidence?

It is no coincidence, as in Leiden the whole range of Pharmaceutical Sciences is so well represented. The LACDR performes a lot of research that is recognized in the fields of drug design, fundamental and translational sciences, and drug delivery and targeting sciences. In addition, the Centre for Human Drug Research (CHDR) makes the essential transition from laboratory to application. And the LUMC works on the essence of science based practice. It is this collaboration that makes Leiden such a strong partner on a global level.

There no question that this conference of interest to colleagues in many departments in the Faculty of Science (apart from LACDR, in particular also LIC, IBL and LIACS), the Center for Human Drug Research, the Leiden University Medical Center, as well as many strategic partner in the Bio Science Park Leiden. And our students of course!

Thus the conference will also be open to students?

By all means! There will be a special Young Scientist Satellite Conference in Uppsala, planned explicitly directly ahead of PSWC2017. This is specifically designed to allow young researchers and students to connect with the PSWC2017in Stockholm a few days later. Young researchers and students who are allowed to present a poster or oral presentation at the Young Scientist Satellite Conference are also automatically accepted for presentation in the main conference.

And travel? It could be expensive?

For MSc students, PhD students and Postdocs travel grants are made available through FIGON

From your point of view: when will the World Congress be a success?

I believe that the conference will be a success if we are able to start this collective new step with our partners. We will publish a vision-paper which we shall send to academic institutes, health-partners and governments. Our focus is to work from the scientific developments in science and society to create an optimal collaboration which aims for new treatments on a global scale, and to reach the patients that need them the most. In the next world congress of 2020, we will look back in how well we have achieved this new step.

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