Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

HE&me

Article excerpt

David Roblin was head of research at Pfizer's former site at Sandwich in Kent, and has also been chief medical officer and a non-executive director at a number of biotech companies. In September he joins the Francis Crick Institute as chief operating officer and director of translation

Where and when were you born?

In 1966 in an industrial valley in South Wales. Beautiful landscapes, passionate people who loved learning and sport and, of course, very heavy industry.

How has this shaped you?

The passion is there, and a will to win. But the valley's journey from industrialisation taught me a lot. Fairness is a value I aspire to and admire in others.

What impact do you expect the Crick will have on UK and global biomedical research and innovation?

The Crick is an unprecedented opportunity to put the UK at the forefront of global biomedical discovery, and to translate this into new treatments and technologies that will benefit patients and create economic opportunities for the country. We also have a crucial role to play in training some of the best interdisciplinary researchers, and then supporting them to find leadership positions elsewhere, with a strong focus on UK institutions.

How does it feel to take up a position at an academic and research-oriented institution, having previously worked at multinational corporations?

A magnificent challenge. Many similarities and, of course, differences. I am perhaps able to plan for the long term more than I ever was in a pharmaceutical firm.

Although the recent takeover bid by Pfizer for AstraZeneca failed, could it be the impetus for other global pharmaceutical firms to try to take over British companies?

I am a veteran of three mega-mergers in my time in Pfizer, so I certainly have some experience. These mergers are so often driven by commercial short-term aims. The R&D dimension is, of course, important to these companies but only afterwards. …

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