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Panel focuses on turning biomedical advances into reality

Julie Gerberding
Julie Gerberding
Photo / Donna Coveney

Building relationships between academia, industry and government is key to translating biomedical advances into viable patient treatments, a panel of experts including Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told an MIT audience Wednesday.

The panel discussion, sponsored by MIT's Center for Biomedical Innovation, also discussed how to successfully bring new technology to clinics.

Gerberding said the CDC is committed to innovation, particularly in developing better prevention programs. Currently only 3 percent of the national health budget goes toward health prevention; the rest goes to disease treatment.

"We need to apply our resources to generate new tools, new drugs and new products to promote health and the prevention of disease," Gerberding said. "We see some real opportunity to expand the health promotion pipeline."

Panelists Robert Langer and Phillip Sharp, both MIT Institute Professors, said one key to developing new patient treatments is the creation of small biotechnology companies that dedicate themselves to translating a basic science advance into a marketable medicine or device.

"These small companies provide a tremendous ability to move things from academia into the clinic," said Langer.

Moderated by Charles Cooney, the Robert T. Haslam Professor of Chemical Engineering at MIT, the panel also included Randall Lutter, acting deputy commissioner of the FDA; Mark McClellan, director of the Engelberg Center for Healthcare Reform at the Brookings Institution; Alan Krensky, deputy director of the Office of Portfolio Management and Strategic Initiatives at the National Institutes of Health; Edward Roberts, the David Sarnoff Professor of Management of Technology; Burt Adelman, former executive vice president for portfolio strategy at Biogen Idec; and Fiona Murray, associate professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

As part of her appearance at MIT, Gerberding also delivered a lecture Wednesday afternoon.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 9, 2008 (download PDF).

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