IMI: How did the pharmaceutical industry benefit from participating in this project?
Michael Mark: The main value was getting a chance to collaborate with several academic centres which are all experts in the field – we would have not done this without the IMI consortium. That collaboration surpasses SUMMIT as we are now entering the stage of further bilateral collaborations. Secondly, within one pharmaceutical company we would have never done such large genetic studies, or biomarker studies, because this is too costly and we don’t have access to large databases – you can only have such databases in a consortium setting.
IMI: Would it have been possible to do all this without IMI and this public-private collaboration?
Michael Mark: Absolutely not. Without IMI, we could have done only bits and pieces.
IMI: What was it like to be a project coordinator? What was the main lesson you learned?
Michael Mark: In the beginning I thought I will not survive in this role, because it came on top of my other daily responsibilities. In retrospect, these six years in which I have been the coordinator of SUMMIT were really fun. I enjoyed the personal friendships and watching the project succeed in achieving its goals. To see a whole organisation – researchers from different countries and different cultures, with different expertise – run after one goal, and to be the coordinator of all that, it was a really prestigious role and wouldn’t have liked to miss it. So yes, it was rewarding but would I do it again on top of my other responsibilities? No. Would I do it again as a full-time coordinator? Immediately and absolutely – yes!
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