Q&A with Michel Goldman, Executive Director, Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI)
Q: How would you describe the goal of the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) to your mom?
A: Our goal is to transform the lives of millions of patients suffering from major diseases by enabling the discovery, development and dissemination of new medicines. To accomplish this mission, IMI fosters collaboration across Europe between (i) academic institutions and small businesses creating new valuable knowledge, (ii) biopharmaceutical companies developing, manufacturing and marketing innovative medicines, (iii) public health bodies in charge of the approval of new treatments, and last but not least, (iv) patients and carers to make sure that IMI keeps its focus on society’s needs.
This unprecedented European endeavour, supported by a €2 billion investment made jointly by the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries, has already resulted in important breakthroughs in several areas, including microbial resistance to antibiotics, depression, schizophrenia, autism, dementia, diabetes and rheumatic disorders.
Q: Your leadership in IMI goes beyond the scope of what most people consider as a regular day-job. What keeps you motivated?
A: As a physician, my engagement has always been and will remain the same: to contribute to the alleviation of suffering of patients with severe diseases or conditions. I did it in several ways during my career: by providing clinical care to patients with end-stage renal diseases, by conducting experimental or clinical research on immune-mediated disorders, and now by building bridges between different worlds which must join forces to revolutionize healthcare. Addressing this great challenge does indeed keep me highly motivated.
Q: What has surprised you the most about the findings from IMI? What weren’t you expecting?
A: I have been and am still surprised by the enthusiasm expressed among the 6000 scientists engaged in IMI projects. Whether working in large pharmaceutical companies, academia, small businesses or public health bodies, they have discovered how multi-stakeholder collaboration and collective intelligence can make a real difference for the ultimate benefit of patients and society.
Q: If you could trade places with anyone in the world for one week, who would it be?
A: William Housworth, Executive Director of the Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap, Cambodia, to share the experience of physicians who help to build a better future for this wonderful people.