Breaking Barriers to Develop New Drugs for the Future
Dr. Koichi Wada
Nippon Boehringer Ingelheim, Co., Ltd
Head of Kobe Pharma Research Institute
Completed Doctorate in Pharmaceutical Chemistry at Kyoto University’s Graduate School and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1994. Joined Nippon Boehringer Ingelheim, Co., Ltd in April of the same year, working in the Pharmaceutical Research Department at the Kawanishi Pharmaceutical Research Institute. Left for Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co.KG (Germany) in 2004 following time at the R&D Management Department’s Project Coordination Group and serving as a manager in the Pharmaceutical Research Department. Returned to Japan in 2006 to serve as the Head of the Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control Department at the Kawanishi Pharmaceutical Research Institute. Appointed the Head of the Chemistry, Manufacturing and Control Department at the Kobe Pharma Research Institute in 2008. Appointed the Head of the Kobe Pharma Research Institute in 2013.
The Only Research Institute in Asia Contributing to Global R&D
In November 2008, Nippon Boehringer Ingelheim, Co., Ltd relocated its research institute from the city of Kawanishi in Hyogo Prefecture to its present location, launching the Kobe Pharma Research Institute. This also marked the 10-year anniversary of the initial conception of the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster.
With external lab. facilities and a nearby airport, the replete research infrastructure and accessible location were major reasons for relocating our research base to the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster. Furthermore, with more and more public research organizations and medical enterprises in the area, and ample opportunities to interact with the academic community, the location is optimal for obtaining the latest information on drug discovery and development.
During this time, parent company Boehringer Ingelheim Corporate (Germany) was also moving forward with the global restructuring of its R&D system to respond to rapid changes in the global pharmaceutical market environment. As a manager in the Pharmaceutical Research Department, I participated in projects as a representative of Japan’s research & development site. In 2006, two years after returning from Germany, we launched the Kobe Pharma Research Institute.
While the facility may be compact in size, in the 10 years since launching, the Kobe Pharma Research Institute has continued activities in three roles: conducting research & development in pharmaceuticals and analytical technologies for drug product as well as pharmacokinetics; engaging in non-clinical and CMC development for the domestic launch of products; and searching for new pharmaceutical seeds that will lead to groundbreaking innovations.
At the BI Group, we are the only human pharmaceutical research base in Asia, and are working to expand global R&D alongside research institutes in Germany, the United States, and Australia.
Globally Advancing the Search for New Drug Possibilities
Today the BI Group is engaged in research to develop original pharmaceutical products in five major therapeutic areas: cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases, diabetes, cancers, and central nervous system-related diseases. However, there are also diseases outside these areas where effective treatments have yet to be found. To meet the demands of even more patients, BI has expanded with new R&D areas that go beyond existing therapeutic areas and globally advancing the search for new drug possibilities. This initiative, named Research Beyond Borders (RBB), launched in Europe and China, with major activities in Japan taking place at the Kobe Pharma Research Institute within the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster.
With world class scientific technologies and numerous innovative achievements in the life sciences, Japan is home to many universities and research enterprises engaged in noteworthy research, and more and more startup companies are also being established by those coming out of universities. The Kobe Pharma Research Institute works to create alliances between researchers and drug discovery startups, search for seeds to new drugs in medical treatment areas with a high degree of unmet needs, and connect them to pipelines for new drugs that will serve the future of BI.
Holding Related Events Nationwide
RBB initiatives are growing. We are expanding our network by holding events in various locations to increase opportunities for communication between university researchers and drug discovery startups. We foster partnerships by soliciting new innovative ideas in the life sciences and drug discovery fields, evaluating product and business potential, and having experts at BI provide advice. In addition, we support startups and offer awards for innovative ideas, and also provide venture capital matching opportunities.
Groundbreaking innovations are not born from existing values. They are cultivated when the boundaries are removed, and people can bounce ideas off each other. It is almost like a chemical reaction. I hope that going forward we can provide new globally recognized pharmaceuticals and skilled personnel, exploring the possibilities of our network with newly created startups, domestic and international pharmaceutical companies, and research organizations with the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Center at the forefront.