A new research collaboration model from GSK with its Immunology Catalyst sabbatical program that embeds academic scientists in the company's laboratories.
The academic immunologists, who are predominantly focused on basic science, will join a GSK R&D facility in the UK, where they will work alongside the company's scientists while pursuing their own independent research.
The academics will have access to GSK’s technologies and research tools and, by connecting with the company's scientists, have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of drug discovery and translational research.
Australian Professor John Hamilton from the University of Melbourne was the first academic to join the program. He is an internationally renowned expert in the field of macrophage biology and has been a leader of GM-CSF biology, elucidating its role in inflammatory disease pathways for many years.
“A functioning immune system is crucial for human survival - and understanding its complexities in both health and disease is proving critical to almost every area of medicine; not just infectious disease, vaccinology and autoimmune conditions," said Dr Andrew Weekes, Medical Director of GSK Australia. "GSK already has multiple research programmes with potential applications across multiple disease areas including respiratory medicine, rheumatology and oncology based on immunological approaches – and we recognise that we need to do more to stimulate innovation in new ways.”
"We are delighted that Professor Hamilton was the first academic to join our researchers at our global R&D hub in Stevenage, UK in 2015 and will remain an ongoing collaborator. He has played a key role in understanding the causes of arthritic disease and pain and will contribute significantly to the vibrant immunology community we are building across GSK,” added Dr Weekes.
In his research, Professor Hamilton discovered that a particular protein, GM-CSF, might be a pro-inflammatory mediator in arthritis - demonstrating that depletion can reduce inflammatory and arthritic pain. It is potentially significant because effective pain control is one of the key challenges for people with osteoarthritis.
“My period with the GSK Immunology Network in the UK and USA enabled me to gain an appreciation of what GSK is currently achieving in the Immunology/Inflammation area," said Professor Hamilton. "I was able to contribute some fruitful ideas in return. Overall it was a positive experience for me mainly because of the degree of 'openness' in my interactions with GSK and because I was made to feel welcomed.”