Dr David Roblin, the former Site Head and Head of Research for Pfizer's European Research & Development HQ, has begun his new role as the Chief Operating Officer and Director of Scientific Translation of the Francis Crick Institute.
David took over the role on the 1st September 2014 from the Crick's previous COO, John Cooper, who is remaining as Projects Director until the institute is completed in late 2015. David's main role is to make sure the Crick runs efficiently, the science platforms work effectively and that the institute accommodates world class science. However he will also focus on the scientific agenda, identifying and developing translatable science.
The translation agenda is of upmost importance to the Crick given that one of its five strategic priorities is to 'accelerate translation for health and wealth.' In summary this means maximising the value that can be generated from the science through translating the research into patient benefits and generating economic opportunities for the UK.
In practice this will be a challenge. Historically biological institutes have focused on the understanding of basic science, not the application of that to generate health and wealth benefits. David is keen to create a culture whereby researchers are always asking 'how can my science be applied?' However he realises that this is difficult to do and will take some time. "Translation is a very different discipline and we need to work on mechanisms, culture and support for our scientists to ask those questions of applicability. I want to see skilled practitioners from venture backgrounds, biotech or pharma, working with our scientists."
David is working on a translation strategy which includes ideas such as collaborating with our HEIs and working within their academic health centres. Another idea is to have entrepreneurs in residence, who are looking to create new companies and who can also help our researchers think about how they might apply their science. Collaborations with pharmaceutical companies will also be a key part of the process.
With all of this to plan, as well as completing the setup of the institute, there is definitely no shortage of things for David to do in his new role, but he is looking forward to the challenge. "I'm honoured and excited to be joining the Crick. The opportunity to create an institute with such a a magnificent and broad agenda was one not to miss. We will be creating something unique and world class to take UK science to another level."