In Norway, the pharmaceutical industry grows slowly, and has too little R&D. In sharp contrast to countries like Sweden or UK, just a small percentage of trained statisticians in Norway are hired by the pharmaceutical industry. The aim of the centre is to contribute to a visible change in this development, building on the special resources and materials available in Norway, the vitality and international competitiveness of the corporate partners and on the competence of our new team of statisticians.
The pharmaceutical industry acts globally. It is therefore necessary to identify where Norway has unique strengths that can attract innovation-based research. Norway has biobanks and health registries of high quality, which are treasures for drug discovery. A viable biotech industry is in fact already growing around them. Though the population is small, the public health system is homogeneous and patient follow-up is excellent. Hence, the data are better, and the results stronger, even for smaller studies, combined with overall cost-effectiveness. Major public investments in the monitoring of the health system and the establishment of functional genomics platforms, put Norway in a strong position to generate innovative contributions to drug discovery and trial.
All the partners are central actors. Oslo University Hospital represents about 40% of the Norwegian medical science, with access to a large number of patient groups and modern diagnostic tools. PubGene and Sencel are biotech companies with strong positions in the development of bioinformatics tools for drug discovery and innovative clinical diagnostic. Biomolex is working on a radically new microarray technology, which will allow multiple target comparisons. Spermatech is a pioneer in the development of drugs used to manipulate sperm motility, in order to develop non-hormonal male contraceptives. Smerud Medical Research is focused on clinical project management, monitoring of studies and biometrics. It is a leading provider of clinical development services in Scandinavia. Statistics can make the difference for the bioinformatics partners, all aiming for drug discovery and development. There are several common needs: extraction of knowledge from complex data carrying precious biological information together with experimental noise, merging results and studies to produce meta analysis that can cut experimental costs and detect effects, design of optimal studies and experiments ranging from longitudinal follow-up of patients and optimal selection of patients/doctors in trials, to calibration of new technologies. The biostatisticians joining the centre have long experience with clinical, genomic and epidemiological studies, and their research is internationally recognised.