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Q&A with Dr Francesca Gliubich – Director, London Advanced Therapies

    Q – Can you tell us a bit about London Advanced Therapies (LAT) and what you do?

    In 2018, a group of academics from Imperial, UCL and King’s College London came together to set up LAT, with the aim to connect the London academic community working in the field of cell and gene therapy. Among our objectives is to enable collaborative work which, for advanced therapies, is especially important as different expertise is needed to develop and deliver these complex therapies. We ultimately wish to position London and the UK as the global leader for advanced therapies, from development through to commercialisation.

    Q – What are some of the ways you make that happen?

    Among our many activities, some of our programmes are:

    The Advanced Therapies Network – a seminar and networking series. MedCity work with us to organise the events, which focus on a particular subject and feature expert speakers from the field. For example, some of the topics we’ve covered have been investment, clinical trials and manufacturing advanced therapies material. There’s time for discussion and networking after the expert speakers.

    Confidence in collaboration – a programme where we match academics from London institutions to work collaboratively on a project. We’ve matched partners and awarded funding for 20 of these projects so far.

    Collaborate to Innovate – a programme that takes applications from SMEs looking to collaborate with academics on a project. The 12 successful applicants for phase 2 of the programme are just kicking off their projects at the moment, having been matched with experts in London institutions. MedCity also help project manage the programme to keep the projects on track towards a successful conclusion.

    Training – we also deliver different training packages for healthcare professionals

    Expertise mapping – we have undertaken a mapping exercise of expertise in the area. This further feeds into a kind of bespoke matchmaking we can offer SMEs or academics looking to collaborate in a particular area. We can help match partners up based on their expertise, as well as supporting the negotiation of partnership contracts to smooth and speed up the process.

    Q – Can you tell us more about the Advanced Therapies Network (ATN) and why it was established?

    The ATN really came about because London and the UK has incredible expertise in advanced therapies, but it was also clear that collaborative work was essential to maintaining and growing London and the UK’s position as a leader in the field.

    Members of the network cover the breadth of people working within advanced therapies, including in industry (30%); NHS, government and academia (66%); and professional services (4%).

    Q – What do you see in the long-term future for ATN events?

    We’ve had an aim to make events available virtually for some time now, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we can do that. Our last event was livestreamed, as will the next event be. In future, we hope that we’ll be able to get back to physical events as soon as possible, but with an online component that will allow people who aren’t able to be there physically to join in. After all, our main aim is to connect the rest of the world with London, so naturally we want to open up networking opportunities as widely as possible.

    Q – So what’s coming up next?

    Watch this space as we’re currently planning our next ATN networking event, which we hope will take place in early September. It will be another virtual event and the working title is ‘Future Labs’. We’ll be announcing details soon.

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