British Prime Minister David Cameron led a life sciences roundtable, featuring pharmaceutical and biotech industry leaders, at The Rockefeller University this week, part an effort by the British government to acknowledge the value and investment that U.S. companies bring to the UK. The group discussed areas where they thought the UK could encourage future investment in medical research, and Cameron toured President Marc Tessier-Lavigne‘s neuroscience laboratory and met with Nobel Prize winning neurobiologist Paul Greengard.
The Prime Minister was accompanied by George Freeman, Member of Parliament and Adviser to the UK Government on Life Sciences; Tim Luke, a Senior Adviser on Business, Trade and Innovation; and Danny Lopez, the British Consul General in New York.
The visit grew out of the Prime Minister’s deep interest in research on dementia. Last year, he launched the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, his government’s commitment to dramatically speed up how dementia diagnosis and therapy are approached and how research is conducted. On the same day as Mr. Cameron’s visit to Rockefeller University, the UK government announced that it will use its presidency of the G8 this year to identify and agree on an international approach to dementia research, in recognition that the condition is fast becoming the biggest pressure on health care systems around the world.
“We are deeply grateful to the Prime Minister for including a visit to Rockefeller University on his trip, and more importantly, for championing the cause of research on dementia,” said Tessier-Lavigne. “It is enormously encouraging to scientists when government leaders take a strong and active role in advancing our work.”
Earlier in the day, UK Life Sciences Adviser George Freeman discussed possible collaborative ventures with Barry S. Coller, Physician in Chief of The Rockefeller University Hospital, David Rockefeller Professor, and head of the Allen and Frances Adler Laboratory of Blood and Vascular Biology.
The Rockefeller University has many connections with the UK. Tessier-Lavigne, a former Rhodes Scholar who conducted postdoctoral research at University College London, is one of seven Rockefeller scientists who are Fellows of the Royal Society. Paul Nurse, president of the Royal Society and director of London’s new Francis Crick Institute, is a Rockefeller professor and the university’s immediate past president.