Sharing data to accelerate drug discovery

Dr Victor Neduva is a FLIER Programme participant and Senior Principal Scientist at MSD Research Laboratories in London where he researches disease of ageing. 

I have always been interested in science, so studying biophysics as undergraduate seemed to be an obvious choice. After my undergraduate degree, I moved on to neuroscience, using imaging to study brain function.

Soon after, I became fascinated with the complexity of biological systems and how we can predict and model aspects of biology by working with large sets of molecular data and how this this type of work can guide drug development. Through my research I came across scores of short linear protein sequences that facilitate the machinery of our cells and these are often important in multiple diseases.

Based on this work, my colleagues and I created a start-up company that aimed to convert these protein sequences into tools for drug discovery. This was my first translational experience and I really enjoyed the thrill of working on something that can have an impact on human health.

I went on to do my postdoctoral studies at the University of Edinburgh, only to go back to the drug discovery research four years later.

I joined GSK, where I had the privilege of being involved in projects from the very early stages of research, all the way through to products on the market. One of the most memorable projects was a stem cell gene therapy for ADA-SCID, a rare debilitating condition affecting very young children. At the end of this six-year project, I had the chance to meet the children and families affected by this condition. It was an incredibly moving and motivating experience to see how science and translational work can have a huge impact on people's lives.

I was still working at GSK when I applied for the FLIER programme. The thing that appealed to me was its promise to create meaningful interactions across the sector.

A few months ago, I moved into my current role at the recently-opened MSD Discovery Research site in London, where I’m working to develop treatments to target diseases of ageing. I’m very excited by this opportunity as it combines building a new discovery site in the heart of the UK biomedical community with working in translational and basic science, and fostering collaboration between the pharmaceutical industry and academia to develop new medicines. 

Before I joined the FLIER programme, I already had an interest in sharing data. Through my career, I have learned that a great deal of biomedical research is never replicated or not even published, especially when something doesn’t work as expected.

My vision is to get all data published including findings that do not agree with previous research. I believe that sharing all significant evidence will allow us to see a clearer picture that will accelerate the process of identifying new targets for drugs.

Many of us are already keeping track of these ‘non-confirmatory’ results in our labs, but if we start sharing this knowledge across labs it may make our industry more efficient.

The FLIER programme is an incredible project that encourages interaction across various biomedical communities and empowers those of us taking part to make a positive change across research areas.

I have been with FLIER for almost a year now and my experience has been exceptionally positive. The program provides a very unique opportunity that can help me to identify the right network to put my data-sharing initiative on a good trajectory.

To achieve my vision, I need to engage across industry as well as with clinicians, academics and policy makers. FLIER is helping me to identify the right people and places to do what I need to do.

Dr Victor Neduva is a participant in Round 1 of the Academy of Medical Sciences’ FLIER Programme, a unique programme that will develop leaders of the future who can create collaborations across academia, industry, the NHS and government to drive innovation.

The FLIER Programme is generously supported by the Dennis and Mireille Gillings Foundation and the Government Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy ‘Investment in Research Talent’ fund. If you would like to support the work of the Academy to develop talented researchers, visit our Supporters page.

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