Boehringer Ingelheim and BioMed X apply crowdsourcing to establish a team of scientists for identifying key epigenetic regulators of COPD

Boehringer IngelheimBoehringer Ingelheim and BioMed X have successfully applied a crowdsourcing approach to establish a research team of outstanding scientists from around the world with bright ideas, who will endeavor to identify new approaches for the treatment of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

COPD is a chronic, progressive, treatable but incurable lung disease affecting 210 million people worldwide. It is a growing world health priority and is predicted to become the 3rd leading cause of death by 2030. Boehringer Ingelheim has been a leader in the treatment of respiratory disease for over 90 years and continues to explore a pipeline of unique compounds to help patients with COPD, asthma, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), lung cancer and other respiratory diseases.

The interdisciplinary team will focus on the characterization of epigenetic regulators driving hallmarks of the COPD pathophysiology, as recent evidence indicates that epigenetic mechanisms could be major drivers of this devastating disease. Epigenetics is defined as heritable changes in gene expression or phenotype that do not involve a change in the underlying DNA sequence, Renata Jurkowska will head the research team that will be established in the BioMed X Innovation Center located on the campus of the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

Christian Tidona, founder and Managing Director of BioMed X explained: "the newly formed research team will build on our strong scientific networks in Heidelberg and the Biotech Cluster Rhine-Neckar. The team will be guided by experienced mentors from academia and Boehringer Ingelheim and will receive an intensive entrepreneurship and leadership training."

Michel Pairet, Senior Corporate Vice President of Research and Non-clinical Development at Boehringer Ingelheim said "we are very enthusiastic about working with this highly motivated team of talented scientists at the BioMed X Innovation Center." He continued, "we firmly believe that crowd sourcing is an exciting and refreshing way to find unconventional solutions based on the diversity of talents and ideas. This project is ideally suited to integrate breakthrough science in epigenetics research and emerging insights into the pathophysiology of COPD. Understanding epigenetic mechanisms will allow us to discover unknown drivers of the disease and accelerate the discovery of new medicines for treating patients with COPD."

The research team will be sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim for two years with the option to extend the funding period up to a total of four years. Further details of the agreement are not disclosed.

About BioMed X Innovation Center
The BioMed X Innovation Center is an exciting new collaboration model at the interface between academia and industry. At the center, distinguished early career scientists recruited from all over the world are working jointly on novel pre-clinical research projects in the fields of biomedicine, molecular biology, cell biology, diagnostics and bioinformatics.

About Boehringer Ingelheim
The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, Boehringer Ingelheim operates globally with 146 affiliates and a total of more than 47,700 employees. The focus of the family-owned company, founded in 1885, is researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing new medications of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.

Social responsibility is an important element of the corporate culture at Boehringer Ingelheim. This includes worldwide involvement in social projects, such as the initiative "Making more Health" and caring for the employees. Respect, equal opportunities and reconciling career and family form the foundation of the mutual cooperation. In everything it does, the company focuses on environmental protection and sustainability.

In 2014, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of about 13.3 billion euros. R&D expenditure corresponds to 19.9 per cent of its net sales.

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