According to the World Health Organization, mental illness - together with substance abuse disorders - remains the leading cause of disability worldwide. At least 450 million people suffer from mental health problems. The global economic burden of mental illness is larger than for cancer, cardiovascular disease or diabetes and continues to grow - with significant health, social and economic consequences. As currently available treatment options leave many patients unsatisfactorily treated, more effective medicines for mental diseases are urgently needed.
"We are excited about applying the innovative approach of crowdsourcing to harness the creativity of the scientific community and combine it with our internal research and development capabilities, to discover the next generation of medicines for patients with psychiatric diseases who currently have insufficient treatment options," said Corporate Senior Vice President Clive R. Wood, Head of Discovery Research of Boehringer Ingelheim. "Our scientists will work closely with the new team we are establishing with our partner BioMed X, thereby further supporting our ambition to be an innovation leader in psychiatric diseases."
Christian Tidona, founder and Managing Director of BioMed X explained: "With this new neuroscience research group our center is growing to over 60 top researchers from around the world. We are excited about our strong partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim which is driven by scientific excellence and mutual trust."
The interdisciplinary team will focus on the generation of novel therapeutic approaches for psychiatric diseases by developing a highly integrated brain microcircuit model which includes authentic neuronal and non-neuronal cells and supports functional readouts with sufficient robustness and throughput for drug discovery. Michał Ślęzak 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. The new project follows on the successful establishment of a group to identify novel epigenetic drivers to find new approaches for treating COPD and underscores Boehringer Ingelheim's long term sustainable collaboration approach.
The new crowdsourcing initiative is just one example of the increasing focus Boehringer Ingelheim puts on partnering, constantly seeking new innovative collaboration models to adapt to the needs of its partners and maximize mutual benefit. 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
Boehringer Ingelheim is one of the world's 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, Boehringer Ingelheim operates globally through 145 affiliates and a total of some 47,500 employees. The focus of the family-owned company, founded in 1885, is on 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 through, for example, the initiative “Making More Health” while also caring for employees. Respect, equal opportunity and reconciling career and family form the foundation of mutual cooperation. The company also focuses on environmental protection and sustainability in everything it does.
In 2015, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net sales of about 14.8 billion euros. R&D expenditure corresponds to 20.3 per cent of net sales.