Traditional pathways for funding academic research have become more challenging. One alternate funding route may be more partnerships between industry and the academic world.
A Sunday afternoon symposium at the Scientific Sessions will explore the advantages and financial and ethical concerns researchers should understand when considering these partnerships. The two-hour symposium, Academia-Industry Collaborations—Key Considerations, will begin at 4:30 p.m. in room 415C (Valencia Ballroom).
John B. Buse, MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Chief of Endocrinology, and Director of the Diabetes Center at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, will discuss his experiences working with industry while conducting diabetes trials. He said successful academia-industry collaborations are win-win partnerships that marry industry’s resources, scale, and a need for speed and focus with the academic world’s clinical experience, creativity, and clarity.
“Companies have the advantage of being very focused on process, and academia tends to be very creative and has different resources,” he said. “We have patients; companies don’t have patients. I think there’s great synergy in these partnerships.”
When Dr. Buse moved from a career in basic science research to conducting clinical trials in 1993, he could not afford the study coordinator required for the research. An industry partnership provided enough resources to hire a study coordinator who could facilitate research beyond the clinical trial contract.
“By providing a service to an industry partner, you’re able to build a team that allows you not only to complete that work, which hopefully is interesting in and of itself, but perhaps provide infrastructure or capacity to do other work,” he said.
Successful partnerships require communication, transparency, and flexibility between all parties, Dr. Buse said. Issues often arise when one side of the partnership doesn’t understand the needs of the other. And while working to execute and develop studies, researchers need to be careful to avoid creating conflicts of interest while retaining independence in both publishing and intellectual property.
Educational opportunities such as Sunday’s symposium are important because little information exists about navigating these partnerships, Dr. Buse said. Session attendees will hear real-world lessons on how to handle issues such as compensation, contracting, and disclosure.
“When someone new is coming into the field, I always tell them they should talk to multiple people because there are many ways of handling these questions,” Dr. Buse said. “Each of these partnerships has its own sorts of opportunities, issues, and challenges.”
Dr. Buse will be joined in the session by Joel Lexchin, MD, Professor Emeritus in the School of Health Policy and Management at York University in Toronto, Canada, who will discuss how these partnerships can influence clinical research outcomes; W. Timothy Garvey, MD, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who will discuss challenges and opportunities in nutrition research; and Ameet Sarpatwari, JD, PhD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, who will examine the potential for bias and conflicts of interest.