Editorial Column for The Tennessean on ADDC Conference

Date: 30 December 2013


In recent weeks people across the United States have heard national leaders express concern related to our nation's health care system and the best way to ensure sustainable, highly effective treatment for the millions of Americans facing debilitating and fatal diseases. Today nearly 600 scientists, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and industry experts, representing every sector of the biomedical research and development community, are gathering at the Music City Center for the global Academic Drug Discovery and Life Science Tennessee combined conference. Our mission is to improve health outcomes through the delivery of more efficient and effective research, and the promise to bring better pharmaceuticals and therapeutics to patients.

This first-of-its-kind conference is the genesis of the newly formed Academic Drug Discovery Consortium (ADDC), whose mission is to facilitate collaboration between every sector of the biomedical research community and propel the development of new therapies and pharmaceuticals into the health care system. The conference is hosted in partnership with Life Science Tennessee, the association that represents both academic and industry organizations in our state.

We should be proud to host this conference of international drug discovery and biomedical research experts in Tennessee.

As many in the biomedical community scramble to identify best practices for the delivery of new pharmaceuticals, diagnostic tools and procedures, the ADDC is putting forward a new model: academia should work with industry to apply the same rigor they use to validate a new drug. By combining the strengths of academia and industry, new drugs can emerge that are likely to be more successful and, hopefully, lower the costs of drug development, which currently averages about $1 billion per drug.

A significant amount of life science and drug discovery research is done in our backyard at Tennessees renowned academic research campuses: Vanderbilt University, for example, is among the top universities in the nation in biomedical research. St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital, the University of Tennessee, East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine and Meharry Medical College add further strength to the biomedical research enterprise in our state. In total, Tennessees research funding topped $3 billion last year, and our state ranked in the top 15 in the country for biomedical research funding.

This high-growth, high-wage industry is an economic driver of our state and national economy. Newly released numbers from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development report that there are more than 1,700 life science industry establishments employing more than 44,000 employees at an average wage of $75,000.

Many challenges remain for the earlier stages of drug discovery and development in our state, including limited access to capital for early stage companies and problems commercializing the research generated here. Additionally, continued focus on satisfying the demand for a high-tech workforce is vital to realizing the long-term opportunities for the industry in Tennessee.

Life Science Tennessee and the Academic Drug Discovery Consortium are preparing to meet these challenges by bringing all members of the biomedical research community together. We believe this model will help advance our economy and bring promising new therapeutics to the health care system. Our goal is nothing less than improving the health of patients and working to streamline the drug and medical device development pathway.

Written By:
P. Jeffrey Conn, Ph.D, is director of the Vanderbilt Center of Neuroscience Drug Discovery and co-founder of the Academic Drug Discovery Consortium
Sam Lynch D.M.D., D.M.Sc. is the founder, former CEO and Chairman of Franklin-based Biomimetic Therapeutics and current chairman of Life Science Tennessee

Source: Vanderbilt Center of Neuroscience Drug Discovery

Announcement web link

Contact Name: Trevor Logan Burbank

Contact E-mail: trevor.burbank@Vanderbilt.Edu