Webinar 1: Building bridges along the psychiatric drug discovery pipeline

BNA Event - 9th Nov 2021

Webinar 1: Building bridges along the psychiatric drug discovery pipeline – challenges and opportunities for collaborative partnerships 

This event took place on Tuesday 9th November, 1-2pm (GMT). The webinar is now available to watch on YouTube by clicking the link below.

Overview of the key challenges facing psychiatric drug discovery and how BNA and PC are working together to address them 

Chair: Kevin Cox, (BNA)
Speakers: Sophie Sykes-Jerrold (BNA), Laura Ajram (Psychiatry Consortium), Ilan Rabiner (Invicro), Liz Tunbridge (University of Oxford)


Kevin Cox (BNA)

Kevin has over 25 years of experience in the life science industry, covering a wide range of sectors such as biomanufacturing, biomedical imaging, clinical diagnostics and clinical development. He has been CEO of a number of high growth biotechnology businesses and is currently Chairman of ValiRx PLC, Biorelate Limited and Biotaspheric Limited. 

Kevin’s non-business roles have included Board membership of the BIA, Chair of BioNow and membership of various government advisory boards.  He is currently a NED of the British Neuroscience Association and sits on an Industry Advisory Board for UoM.

With a passion for improving translational science, Kevin has developed strong links across both public and private sectors and is keen to improve collaboration between academia and industry to accelerate the development of new treatments to treat CNS diseases and beyond.

Laura Ajram (Psychiatry Consortium)

A pharmacologist by training, Laura obtained her PhD in Translational Neuropharmacology from Kings College London in 2019 and has since worked in the field of research strategy and management.

Laura currently works at Medicines Discovery Catapult as the Programme Manager for the Psychiatry Consortium - an international collective of global pharmaceutical companies, research charities and contract research organisations. Laura is responsible for creating and developing a portfolio of projects with academic partners to accelerate drug discovery in psychiatric disorders, managing the stakeholder partnerships, and leading the strategic direction and daily operational management of the Consortium.

Laura recently won the ELRIG Early Career Professional Impact award (2021) for her role in the inception and management of the Psychiatry Consortium.

Ilan Rabiner (Invicro)

Executive VP and Head of Translational Applications, Invicro, London

Reader in Molecular Neuroimaging, Institute of Psychiatry Psychology and Neuroscience, King’s College, London

llan studied at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, [BSc Hons in Physiology and Medical Biochemistry (1988) and MBBCh (1990)]. Received specialist training in psychiatry at the University of Cape Town (FCPsych SA, 1996).  Trained in molecular imaging at the MRC Cyclotron Unit, Hammersmith Hospital, London (1997-2001) and at the MRC Psychopharmacology Unit, University of Oxford (1997-1999).

Ilan joined GlaxoSmithKline as Director in Translational Medicine and Technologies group in 2001. From 2006, Head of Clinical Imaging Applications at the GSK Clinical Imaging Centre on the Hammersmith Hospital campus in London.  In 2011 Ilan transferred with the GSK Clinical Imaging Centre to form Imanova, Centre for Imaging Sciences, and took on the role of Head of Imaging Applications, and Chief Medical Officer.

In 2012 Ilan was appointed as Reader in Molecular Neuroimaging at the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences, in the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College, London.

In 2017 took the role of Executive VP and Global Head of Translational Applications at Invicro.

Liz Tunbridge (University of Oxford)

Liz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford. Her group uses information from genomic studies to identify and characterise potential novel drug targets for psychiatric disorders.

Talk: Targeting kalirin for schizophrenia

Liz will describe her experience of developing a project with the Psychiatry Consortium of the Medicines Discovery Catapult as the academic lead that aims to advance kalirin as a therapeutic target for schizophrenia. She will outline the rationale for focussing on this target and the current gaps in knowledge that the project aims to fill. She will also talk more broadly about her experience of developing a project in partnership with industry and what she learnt from this process.


The webinar series is supported by the Gatsby Charitable Foundation

This event is co-organised by The Psychiatry Consortium as part of a supporter's package. Support for the BNA's work is gratefully acknowledged; see more about supporting the BNA here.

Overview of the webinar series 

Psychiatric drug discovery must be a truly collaborative process if it is to be successful. All too often industry and academia work exclusively, developing transformative work in isolation of each other and only building alliances at a later stage when necessary. Cross-disciplinary partnerships cultivated earlier in the process can take a project in a whole new direction, for the benefit of those working on the science, for the patient and the investor.  

We believe the challenges facing psychiatric research require the insights and involvement of individuals across all aspects of the research landscape. People with lived experience of mental health, academic researchers, clinicians, regulators and industry scientists to name a few, must all be involved in the development of solutions if we are to overcome the hurdles to psychiatric drug development. 

This series of free webinars will highlight the challenges and opportunities at key stages in the translational pipeline, from identifying the unmet patient need, undertaking the basic research required to understand the disease biology to developing novel treatments. At each stage, we will hear from experts who will give their perspectives on what we can do to support each other along this process.  

Webinar 2: Building bridges along the psychiatric drug discovery pipeline – understanding and prioritising patient unmet need 

Tuesday 23rd November, 1-2pm (GMT) 

Click here for more information and to register

Webinar 3: Building bridges along the psychiatric drug discovery pipeline – the academic perspective of the challenges of drug discovery 

Tuesday 22nd February, 1-2pm (GMT) 

Click here for more information and to register

Webinar 4: Building bridges along the psychiatric drug discovery pipeline – the industry perspective of the challenges of drug discovery

Tuesday 8th March, 1-2pm (GMT) 

Click here for more information and to register

Webinar 5: Building bridges along the psychiatric drug discovery pipeline – solutions of how to work together

Tuesday 22nd March, 1-2pm (GMT) 

Click here for more information and to register

Click here for more information about the webinar series.

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