BIO2015 EXCLUSIVE: Brazil and Biotech Go Hand in Glove, MedImmune Exec Tells BioSpace

Published: Jun 19, 2015

BIO2015 EXCLUSIVE: Brazil and Biotech Go Hand in Glove, MedImmune Exec Tells BioSpace
June 19, 2015
By Riley McDermid, Breaking News Sr. Editor

Brazil could be the new biotech paradise and American life sciences are beginning to have all the infrastructure they need to do business there, an executive with MedImmune , a unit of AstraZeneca PLC , told BioSpace this week at Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International in Philadelphia.

The BIO 2015 panel, “Survey of Brazil’s R&D Infrastructure” was moderated by Reg Seeto, vice president and head of Partnering & Strategy at MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca.

BioSpace chatted with Seeto after the panel about why Brazil could become a global player in biotech and life sciences—and has been a solid partner for MedImmune. The panel addressed the importance of Brazil to multinational pharmaceutical companies and to the global biotech industry overall.

“Brazil is swiftly approaching a rank among the top five biopharmaceutical markets worldwide, after having grown four positions in the past five years alone,” Seeto told BioSpace. “The country is home to world-class scientists, its government is committed to R&D and there is a growing movement toward increased collaboration and focus on basic scientific research, including efforts to bolster academic R&D and build academic-industry collaborations.”

Panelists at the event presented case examples and represented three Brazilian organizations and research institutions that have been working to support the build-out the country’s R&D infrastructure. They were Jorge Kalil, president of the Butantan Institute of Biotechnology Innovation; Odir Antonio Dellagostin, Biotechnology Coordinator, CAPES (Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior); and Sergio Queiroz, special advisor for Technological Innovation, FAPESP (São Paulo Research Foundation).

Seeto said MedImmune itself is committed to science in Brazil via a number of initiatives, including entering a five-year Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement with FAPESP earlier this year.

“This collaboration, which is the result of a cross-functional effort among MedImmune, AstraZeneca Brazil, and the State of São Paulo, is focused on identifying and accessing the best science and scientists in the cardiovascular and metabolic disease areas at São Paulo’s public and private research institutions,” said Seeto.

Right now, MedImmune is the largest private biopharmaceutical company supporting the Brazilian government program, Science Without Borders, which seeks to promote the consolidation and expansion of science, technology and innovation through exchange and international mobility.

“Through our participation in this program, up to 30 Brazilian post-doctoral fellows will work at MedImmune’s sites in Gaithersburg, Maryland and Cambridge, UK for a period of two years (9 have already started, and 9 more are about to start),” said Seeto.

Its areas of research include oncology, respiratory, inflammation and autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, infectious diseases, translational science, antibody discovery and protein engineering, and biopharmaceutical development.

“Three of our Brazilian postdocs, including Karina Bora de Oliveira (featured in the blog post here), briefly shared their experiences thus far in the program during the panel presentation at BIO,” said Seeto.

MedImmune also supports an initiative to bring Nobel Prize laureates to research centers, and as part of that brought Martin Chalfie, a 2008 Nobel Prize laureate chemistry, to Brazil as part of this program in September 2014.

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