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Discussing diagnostics

In mid-February, two hundred researchers from academia and industry gathered in Uppsala for a meeting on diagnostics, as part of the Swedish Life Science Investment Year.

Interest in cost-effective, reliable diagnostic tests is increasing worldwide. Healthcare providers and financiers are increasingly looking to state-of-the-art diagnostics for new tools to aid physicians in making informed decisions to better serve patients, while at the same time saving costs. What are the most urgent needs from the different perspectives of patients, healthcare funders and healthcare providers? What are the most exciting new technology developments ahead? What can we learn from developments in veterinary sciences?

These were all questions of interest that were discussed in the middle of February at the Diagnostics Forum in Uppsala. On February 13 about 200 researchers from academia and industry joined the discussions at the diagnostics meeting, which is part of the Swedish Life Science Investment Year 2013, an initiative created by life science organizations to increase life science investment opportunities in the field. This year-long initiative will include several meetings aimed at facilitating and inspiring collaborations, partnerships and investments in the areas of pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, diagnostics and medical technology.

Distinguished speakers

The Diagnostics Forum in Uppsala offered many networking opportunities, energy levels were high and discussions were lively. The conference started by addressing the needs for new diagnostics from societal and health economic aspects, as well as the clinical needs. Professor Terry P. Young, Chair of Healthcare Systems at Brunel University, London, and Mr. Mark Campbell, M.Phil., Associate Director, Medical Technologies Evaluation Programme, NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), Manchester, were two of the keynote speakers invited to discuss issues such as innovative systems for health technology evaluation of devices and diagnostics.

The first part of the day was followed by a session on new technologies, including biomarkers, detection systems, and reading formats. Professor Ulf Landegren, Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology at Uppsala University was another keynote speaker who shared his thoughts on high-performance tools for research and diagnostics. In addition to keynote presentations and selected oral presentations from researchers in the field, around 30 posters were presented, ten of which were presented on stage.

A networking event

In the Stockholm-Uppsala region there are currently more than 60 diagnostic companies, something that Uppsala Bio wanted to highlight.
“Diagnostics has traditionally had a strong hold in Uppsala, with companies such as Thermo Fisher Diagnostics and Mercodia. There are a lot of activities within diagnostics that we want to highlight as one of the region’s strengths,” says Dr. Anna Ridderstad Wollberg, project manager at Uppsala BIO.

Besides focusing on issues within diagnostics, the event was also organized to offer many mingle possibilities as one of the main purposes of the meeting.
”It was a very successful event. We had around 200 participants, a lot of them coming from different organizations and companies in Uppsala but also from various parts of Europe. There were also some former colleagues from AstraZeneca who were interested in finding new networks. We hoped to make new cross-border connections, especially involving healthcare, to pick up on the need from patients,” says Anna Ridderstad Wollberg.

An all-day workshop

The conference ended with a concluding discussion around the needs for diagnostics and possible ways forward. In connection with the Diagnostics Forum, the diagnostics theme was continued on the following day with AIMday Diagnostics and Biomarkers, a full day of workshops. AIMday is a possibility for companies to meet academic specialists who can contribute to solving their specific issues, and questions from companies formed the basis for small group discussions with scientists. The day was centered on small group discussions where a question raised by a company or organization was highlighted, and penetrated during a one hour session involving scientists and experts from several different disciplines.

Swedish Life Science Investment Year 2013

Biotech Umeå Investment Day, Stockholm, 31st January 2013
Focus on Diagnostics and Biomarkers, Uppsala, 13th-14th February 2013
Health 2.0, Kista, 22nd – 24th March 2013
Bioequity, Stockholm, 22nd – 23rd May 2013
SALSS (invite only), Stockholm, August 2013
Medtech Investment Day Nordic, Helsinki, 2nd-3rd September 2013
Park Annual, Gothenburg, September 2013
Medical Technology Days, October 2013
Nordic Life Science Days, Stockholm, 14th – 15th October 2013
Kista ICT/SSCI, Connected, no date yet