17 November 2017

New Interdisciplinary Research Programme in Biomedical Innovation Law


The Novo Nordisk Foundation has awarded a grant of DKK 35 million for a Collaborative Research Programme in Biomedical Innovation Law (CeBIL) to Professor Timo Minssen. CeBIL will be hosted by the Faculty of Law, University of Copenhagen (UCPH), and will scrutinize the most significant legal challenges to biomedical innovation and public health from a holistic cross-disciplinary perspective. CeBIL’s overall aim is to help translate groundbreaking biomedical research into affordable and accessible therapies.

Due to rapid progress in many scientific areas, such as gene editing, pharmacogenomics, artificial intelligence and big data-driven precision medicine, biomedical innovation is experiencing changes of epic proportions. Nevertheless, the total number of truly new and innovative drugs receiving market approval is unsatisfactory. At the same time, some of the more innovative therapies that actually could reach patients have become extremely expensive or ethically problematic. These new technological possibilities raise many complex scientific, legal and ethical issues affecting many stakeholders, such as medical practitioners, regulators, patients and the industry. Against this background, CeBIL will study, evaluate and propose novel legal frameworks for drug development incentives and regulations, taking into account patient-needs, affordable access aspects, market complexities, and economic sustainability.

Head of CeBIL, Professor Timo Minssen says:

“CeBIL is motivated by a genuine wish to contribute with interdisciplinary legal studies to strengthening Denmark’s and Europe’s innovation and competitiveness within the biomedical area, to create new jobs, and - very importantly - to meet the needs, values and expectations of citizens and patients. The grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation will enable us to pursue these ambitions. Moreover, it will allow us to debate issues of international importance with international groups.”

International and cross-disciplinary collaboration

CeBIL is international and highly cross- and interdisciplinary. It includes collaboration with key national and international experts from academia, public bodies, patient organizations and industry.

Professor Timo Minssen explains why the international and cross-disciplinary collaboration is essential to the project:

“CeBIL’s studies and activities will be carried out within a highly complex innovation area. Several research programs dedicated to the legal and ethical analysis of pressing questions in emerging life science technologies and health care can be found around the globe. However, none is fully specialized in the complex mechanisms and legal frameworks that drive and incentivize the biomedical innovation system. Focusing on cutting-edge biomedical technology, CeBIL will bring this research together.“

Dagnia Looms, Head of Strategic Awards at the Novo Nordisk Foundation says: “This research project will study the most significant legal barriers to pharmaceutical innovation and aims to generate data to support new legal frameworks for drug development incentives and regulations. This goal fits well with the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s ambition to promote innovation in biomedicine and biotechnology and build bridges between scientific discoveries and commercial applications.”

Jacob Graff Nielsen, Dean and Henrik Palmer Olsen, Associate Dean for Research at the Faculty of Law are both excited about the prospect of the grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation:

“This grant is a ground-breaking event for the Faculty. It shows that the faculty has the capacity and competence to host a research project that is both truly innovative in its interdisciplinary approach to tackling an important societal problem and internationally excellent in terms of its range of collaborating partners. CeBIL will put our Faculty in the international elite in this important field of research”.

About the Novo Nordisk Foundation

The Novo Nordisk Foundation is a Danish foundation with corporate interests. The Foundation has two objectives: 1) to provide a stable basis for the commercial and research activities of the companies in the Novo Group; and 2) to support scientific, humanitarian and social purposes.

The vision of the Foundation is to contribute significantly to research and development that improves the health and welfare of people.

Since 2010, the Foundation has donated more than DKK 10 billion, primarily for research at public institutions and hospitals in Denmark and the other Nordic countries. Read more at www.novonordiskfoundation.com.

 The CeBIL research projects will be carried out with several core partners. These are expected to include internationally renowned experts at Harvard Law School, Harvard Medical School/Brigham and Women’s Hospital, University of Cambridge, University of Michigan, and UCPH’s Department of Food and Resource Economics (IFRO). Moreover, CeBIL will collaborate with a broad network of stakeholder organizations and international experts within law, economics, life science, medicine, sociology and pharmacy. This involves special advisors from the Max Planck Institute for Innovation & Competition, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston University, the Universities of Oxford, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Hong Kong, as well as UCPH’s Department of Public Health and the Copenhagen Centre for Regulatory Sciences (CORS).