Bertil Andersson
Pablo Legorreta, founder of Royalty Pharma; Bertil Andersson, president of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; and Guillermo Torre, rector of TecSalud. (Photo: Screenshot)

The conclusion of the “How to create and generate value with research” panel during the 2021 Board Meeting was that conditions are ripe for the Tec to take the helm for medical research in the region.

This was confirmed by Bertil Andersson, President of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, who said the following: “I’m sure that it’ll be possible in a few years. I know that the Tec will be among the top 50 universities in the world and it’ll be number one in Latin America.”

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A new ecosystem for creating pharmaceuticals

Andersson, along with other panelist Pablo Legorreta, founder of Royalty Pharma, and discussion moderator Guillermo Torre, Rector of TecSalud, also agreed that the development of new drugs no longer depends so much on big pharmaceutical companies, but on academic centers involved in the new global health research ecosystem.

“The ecosystem has transformed itself in a very radical way. Innovation now occurs in academia, in universities, and in hospitals carrying out medical research, and also in biotechnology companies,” said Legorreta.

60 years ago, the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry was dominated by just the “Big Pharma” companies, and innovation was almost exclusively at the chemical level.

“It was about putting chemical compounds into the human body, hoping they weren’t toxic and that there was some level of efficacy. It was a very arduous process of trial and error with very few participants, some 100 companies around the world,” the founder of Royalty Pharma explained.

However, today’s medical science has been transformed. Now, it’s not only based on chemical procedures in the lab, but also on other processes that involve emerging branches of knowledge.

“What we’re talking about now isn’t just chemistry, but very interesting methods for developing medicines based on our understanding of the human body and genome mapping. Products obtained by these methods are more sophisticated, less toxic, and much more effective,” Legorreta pointed out.

This trend explains why there are currently more than 5,000 academic laboratories around the world, with innovative scientists carrying out initial research, which then goes on to the biotechnology industry.

“I see the Tec as one institution in Latin America with the ability to become an important research center because it has something no one else in Latin America does at the moment: a commitment to really focusing on medical research,” said Legorreta .

Tec’s competitive advantage

He also said that the model of research and hospital under one university system, which currently exists at Harvard and Stanford, is one of Tec de Monterrey’s great advantages for developing new pharmaceuticals.

“That gives it a huge advantage because it means it can carry out research between the university, the scientists who are giving classes, and the doctors who are treating patients.”

This point of view was backed up by Andersson, who’s managed to make Nanyang Technological University one of the top-ranking universities in just 15 years, through a model that’s not only based on teaching, but also on health research.

“Now, in 2021, the University is ranked number 12 in the world and number one in Asia.”