chris cooper

From academia to industry: a new challenge

Professor Christopher Cooper joined GSK as a Global Medical Expert, Scientific Faculty, GSK Global Respiratory Franchise. Here he explains why he chose to move from academia to industry.

Recently, I embarked on a new career path.  It was a fundamental change for me, having worked exclusively in academia for nearly 40 years. I joined GSK as a Global Medical Expert (GME) and a member of their recently created internal scientific faculty.

However, I have retained my academic independence, and continue to teach sections of the medical student curriculum and direct my research laboratory at UCLA in Los Angeles.

Why did I decide to make the change from ‘the other side of the desk’; from medical practice, academia, and clinical research to the pharmaceutical industry? 

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream

C. S Lewis.

Here’s insight into the scope of my role and why I felt the move was a good one:

  • A rapidly changing world presents new challenges; I am excited by new challenges and digital technologies
  • I believe scientific education is incredibly important, especially in my area of respiratory medicine
  • I want to bridge relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and academia

 

A rapidly changing world presents new challenges; I am excited by new challenges and digital technologies

I’ve worked in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as a practicing physician for more than 35 years, directing the UCLA Exercise Physiology Research Laboratory in California for more than 20 years.  When this opportunity arose, I felt the time was right to take up a new challenge and make the move.

Until recently, I was Principal Investigator for the Physiological Health Assessment System for Emergency Responders (PHASER).  We developed a digital health network that remotely monitored fire fighters across the USA.

Using wearable sensors, Bluetooth technology and cloud-based computing, the network was able to monitor and capture physiological data from the fire fighters, wherever they happened to be. The results were fascinating.

Interestingly, I know that across the pharma industry, exploration into the new world of sensors for inhalers, wearable monitors for patients and bioelectronics is underway and GSK is exploring these areas as well.

The appetite and scientific support for these programmes is vast, which means that digital communications and the associated capabilities are a large part of my role.

Living in the digital world means that physicians no longer have to travel to attend congresses or educational meetings. GSK is investing in new ways of engaging with physicians through digital channels which are simple and convenient.  This is in combination with real-time sharing of information and attendance at congresses. 

I believe scientific education is incredibly important, especially in my area of respiratory medicine

Global Medical Experts (GMEs) are helping to craft ever more detailed internal medical education programmes. These programmes help ensure our teams are knowledgeable and can share credible, informed opinions within the global scientific community regarding GSK’s full range of respiratory medicines.  The GSK team is committed to scientific education, and part of my remit is to review our internal medical training and add more depth and interactivity, which forms a fundamental part of internal medical teams.

I want to bridge relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and academia

My role is broad.  I work closely with my fellow GMEs on some projects, whereas on others I have autonomy.  After four weeks, I had already been called upon to input into clinical development programmes that are underway for COPD.  Having the resources and ability to explore emerging science and embrace new innovations has really excited me.

So, six weeks in and I am already making progress!

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