OneWorld Health plans to form network of volunteer pharmaceutical scientists for global health

03/29/04

Receives Sapling Foundation grant to develop structure for scientific engagement

San Francisco, Calif. Mar. 30, 2004 The Institute for OneWorld Health, the first nonprofit pharmaceutical company in the U.S., today announced its intent to develop a volunteer network of corporate and industry pharmaceutical scientists that would promote development of medicines for neglected diseases. The news was announced upon receipt of a grant from the Sapling Foundation (Woodside, Calif.), which will provide seed funding to initiate development of the community of volunteer scientists.

"We're very grateful to the Sapling Foundation for enabling us to tap the interest that pharmaceutical scientists have shown for global infectious diseases, and to harness their potential contributions toward developing cures," said Victoria Hale, Ph.D., founder and CEO of OneWorld Health. The concept for the volunteer scientist network arose after Dr. Hale was contacted by hundreds of pharmaceutical scientists globally, who offered to share their ideas, skills, accumulated research or contacts to advance the development of medicines for the benefit of the poorest people in the developing world.

She explained that scientists' voluntary services are analogous to what the law profession has long provided in the way of pro bono services to individuals and groups in need. "The contribution of pharmaceutical scientists' time and energy is fundamental to our nonprofit business model. A formal structure would leverage this enthusiasm and support," Dr. Hale said.

"Few outlets currently exist for pharmaceutical scientists to contribute their talents to global health," said Ching C. (CC) Wang, Ph.D., professor in the Dept. of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California at San Francisco. "Through this network, OneWorld Health will provide scientists with opportunities to apply their expertise towards diseases that though virtually nonexistent in the developed world have disproportionate impact on disadvantaged patient populations in the developing world." Dr. Wang is a former member of OneWorld Health's board of directors and former Merck scientist.

"This is a unique model in which industry scientists with specialized pharmaceutical expertise can directly contribute to global health," said Frederick W. Kyle, chairman, BioRexis Pharmaceutical Corporation, and OneWorld Health board member. "As an interested individual and an advisor to OneWorld Health, I support these first steps to more fully mobilize scientific talent in the continuing need to fight developing world diseases."

OneWorld Health currently has a roster of 15 scientists and a cadre of part-time and volunteer pharmaceutical scientists offering their expertise and support services. They work on the development of drugs for treatment of visceral leishmaniasis (VL), Chagas disease, and malaria, among other parasitic diseases. Many of the volunteer scientists concurrently hold positions at pharmaceutical companies, in academia, and government, or are consultants to industry.

OneWorld Health plans to appoint a director to lead development and implementation of the volunteer scientists' network in the coming months. The as-yet unnamed network is projected to launch later this year.

Source: Eurekalert & others

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