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Issue 149 Autumn 2023

Endocrinologist > Autumn 2023 > Society News



The divide that has emerged between cutting edge laboratory research and the patient seeking help in clinic has been described as ‘the valley of death’. This is a place where promising discovery science goes when it fails to benefit patients. As a clinical academic, I feel my raison d’être is translational research, and I’ve recently joined the Society’s Corporate Liaison Committee. I’m hoping that this will help me define the problems in this space and identify solutions.


Traditionally, it was seen as a badge of honour for a university-based academic to work independently from industry. Pharmaceutical companies did not generate trust or exhibit transparency. More recently, the collaborative development of COVID vaccinations has demonstrated the power of academia and industry working towards a common purpose, and views are shifting.

Image of several hands adding jigsaw pieces to an image of a lightbulb. Credit shutterstock.

Effective collaboration between researchers and industry is essential to ensure discoveries benefit society. ©Shutterstock

In academia, the days of lauding the brilliant scientist working in isolation in the laboratory are coming to an end. No scientific discovery will disrupt and transform medicine if it does not leave the laboratory, and this is starting to be reflected in promotion criteria and research excellence frameworks. For the life sciences sector, transparency, reliability and trust are key for improving health and also make good business sense. It’s time for open innovation models, entrepreneurship and transparency to improve the lives of patients.


Cross-sector working can be fraught with difficulty; motivations, language and culture can vary widely across sectors. Skills are required to navigate different timescales and resources, to break down traditional mindsets and to establish common goals. This is not part of routine university or clinical training programmes, but is essential for driving improvements in healthcare.

The Society of Endocrinology Corporate Liaison Committee is working to increase understanding between sectors, and to provide opportunities for members to interact across the life sciences, in order to influence policy and facilitate joint partnerships for the benefit of patients.

Membership of this Committee has taken me outside my comfort zone and is developing my leadership skills to make science have real impact in society. We all need to learn to collaborate effectively and assess problems from different angles to really translate our science for human application. Perhaps then we can reclaim the wasteland between science and medicine and facilitate translation for collective benefit.


Reader and Honorary Consultant Gynaecologist, MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, University of Edinburgh

Find out more about the Corporate Liaison Committee

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Autumn 2023

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