GSK establishes global Immunology Network to collaborate with leading academic research scientists

-Prof Luke O’Neill, Trinity College Dublin one of first global academics to take sabbatical to GSK’s research hub in UK
-New approach will work to stimulate innovation by looking outside GSK labs

Global healthcare company GSK, has launched a new immunology research collaboration model – the Immunology Catalyst sabbatical program – designed to embed academic scientists in GSK laboratories with the goal to broaden scientific insight and drive major breakthroughs in applied immunology.

Irish Professor - Luke O’Neill, from Trinity College Dublin is one of the first academics to join the programme. Prof. O’Neill is Chair of Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin since 2008, where he leads the Inflammation Research Group and also serves as Academic Director of the Trinity Biomedical Sciences Institute. He has also been recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Martijn Akveld, Director of Medical Affairs at GSK, said: “This programme is part of our innovative approach to R&D: we realise we don’t have all the answers and that through collaboration we can increase our understanding of new areas of science. A functioning immune system is crucial for the health of all organs in our body. If it does not work properly it can impact almost every area of medicine, from inflammation to oncology and infectious disease to vaccine development but it is one whose secrets we have largely to yet unlock.

The “Immunology Network” embeds academic researchers into our labs to stimulate scientific debate, inspire new science and foster collaborations between GSK’s R&D immunology groups and the wider scientific community. We ultimately hope that this closer collaboration between academia and industry will lead to the discovery and development of new medicines.

“We are delighted that Professor Luke O’Neill has joined our researchers at our global R&D hub in Stevenage, UK in 2016 and will remain an ongoing collaborator. He has played a key role in understanding the causes of arthritic disease and pain and will contribute significantly to the vibrant immunology community we are building across GSK.”

Prof. O’Neill’s research is focused on the area of the molecular basis to inflammatory diseases, with a particular interest in pro-inflammatory cytokines and Toll-like receptors. He has published over 200 papers and reviews on his research, in journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Immunology, Nature Medicine, Nature Genetics and PNAS.

He commented: “This GSK network is a wonderfully innovative and exciting programme to be part of: it’s all about working together, collaborating to generate outstanding science. By bringing in scientists who are working on frontier science, may just give rise to brand new mechanisms and insights and hopefully new medicines. It’s all about collaboration really in science, the possibilities of what this network together with GSK could potentially achieve and learn is very exciting. I have also been able to bring with me three of my research team from TCD to work on their basic research projects in GSK. It’s a tremendous opportunity for them to develop their careers and learn new skills in GSK, as well as advance their projects.”

The Immunology Network hosts global experts to set up research labs called ‘the Immunology Catalyst’ at the GSK facility in Stevenage, UK. The academic immunologists, who are predominantly focused on basic science, will join GSK’s world class R&D facility in Stevenage, UK, where they will work alongside GSK’s scientists while pursuing their own independent research programmes. The academics will have access to GSK’s technologies and research tools and, by connecting with our scientists, have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of drug discovery and translational research.

After the formal sabbatical has come to an end, collaboration will continue between GSK and the academics.

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GSKIreland Media Enquiries: Breda Brown, Unique Media

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Claire Taaffe, GSK

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GSK, one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, employs 1,800 people across four locations in Ireland – Dungarvan, Cork, Sligo and Dublin. The company is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.

GSK in Dungarvan produces a variety of ‘over-the-counter’ pharmacy and oral care products including Panadol, Poligrip and NiQuitin. In fact 7.5 billion Panadol tablets are produced in Dungarvan each year – that’s 150 Panadol tablets a second! – and exported to over 70 countries worldwide. 50 Million NiQuitin patches are also produced in Dungarvan annually and exported around the world.

The Cork operation produces the active ingredients for a range of GSK products used to treat depression, diabetes, congestive heart failure, HIV, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and arthritis while the Sligo facility – Stiefel a GSK company - produces 30 million skin healthcare products annually including Oilatum and Physiogel. All of these high quality products are distributed through GSK’s global network.

The Pharmaceuticals and Consumer Healthcare Businesses, based in Dublin, provide a range of medicines, vaccines and consumer products to Irish people. In fact, one GSK vaccine is administered in Ireland every minute.

Last year, GSK invested €30million in R&D in Ireland, which has contributed significantly to the company’s global success in scientific innovation

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GSK cautions investors that any forward-looking statements or projections made by GSK, including those made in this announcement, are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. Such factors include, but are not limited to, those described under Item 3.D 'Risk factors' in the company's Annual Report on Form 20-F for 2014.

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