Drug safety is an extremely important part of the drug development process. Yet, prior to the launch of IMI’s SafeSciMET project in 2010, educational and training programmes in drug safety science in Europe were scarce. IMI’s SafeSciMET project addressed this gap successfully.
By bringing together 16 academic institutions and 14 pharmaceutical companies, the project developed a curriculum of 20 courses which cover topics along the whole trajectory of drug safety sciences, from developing a drug candidate, through testing it in laboratory studies, and all the way to bringing it to the patient. Professionals can follow single courses in safety sciences or selected subsets of courses, and be accredited for continuing professional development. Furthermore, students successfully completing the full training programme, including a master’s thesis, get awarded with an accredited master’s degree from the University of Konstanz in Germany, one of the project partners.
The SafeSciMET courses are open to scientists from industry, academia and regulatory agencies, and encompass the safety, ethical, regulatory and societal aspects of drug discovery and development. About 800 students have been trained so far: about 40% of them came from the pharmaceutical industry, 35% from academia and 10% from regulatory offices.
Courses adapted to real-life industry needs
Each course has a course leader from industry and academia, and in addition to the theoretical knowledge, contains real-life case studies from industry partners. Thanks to this public-private collaboration, the project created a unique pan-European training network of more than 200 course leaders and teachers from both industry and academia.
SafeSciMET training is already leading to a new generation of safety specialists with strong competences in the application of novel technologies in risk assessment. The hope is that thanks to this unique programme, they will be able to perform reliable evaluations of the safety of drug candidates and new medicines in a more effective way. This could in turn speed up biopharmaceutical innovation and may eventually lead to a cost reduction in drug development.
For the benefit of industry and academia
Thanks to the SafeSciMET programme, the pharmaceutical industry got access to a new breed of trained professionals who are better positioned to address challenges in drug development and safety.
The academic partners benefited from the pharmaceutical companies’ expertise in drug safety sciences, which helped them design courses that are more in tune with the real-life needs of the industry. As a result, students trained through this programme have been getting easier access to jobs in the industry.
Both industry and academic project partners are also benefiting from the pan-European network of safety science educators and experts which was established through this project.
During the course of the project, three course cycles were held. After the end of the project, the project partners managed to set up a short-term sustainability plan thanks to which a fourth course will run in 2017 and 2018. This and future course cycles are coordinated and managed by the University of Konstanz.
Read the interview with project coordinators