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A strategic alliance: reflecting on the BPS and ELRIG’s first year in partnership

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Published: 24 Mar 2021

The partnership between ELRIG UK and the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) is a strategic alliance that recognises the complementary strengths of the two organisations. By working together, the organisations can deliver joint content that benefits both the ELRIG UK and the BPS communities and, importantly, brings those communities closer together to connect and collaborate. But that is not all. The partnership enables us to increase the range of education and science available to our communities, exposing them to cutting-edge research and the latest technologies, which will help to drive innovation and collaboration within the UK life sciences community.

The alliance also allows both ELRIG UK and the BPS to bring a wider and more diverse group of pharmacologists and life sciences professionals together to share best practices, learn from each other and collaborate – something that is at the heart of the mission of both organisations. Our aim is to deliver real value to our communities. Therefore, most of our joint efforts are focused on training and networking to help the whole community, including early career professionals, to develop and advance their careers. Ultimately, the alliance allows us to empower the next generation of academic, industrial and clinical pharmacologists in the UK.

A partnership that benefits both communities

ELRIG UK’s core purpose is to bring the life science and drug discovery communities together to learn, share, connect, innovate, and collaborate. The ELRIG UK community has historically comprised predominantly life sciences professionals from industry, with a focus on drug discovery.  Pharmacology underpins drug discovery, and so the opportunity for the ELRIG UK community to engage with and grow their network of pharmacologists within the BPS is of great benefit.

Science is highly collaborative, and the best ideas form when individuals from diverse backgrounds and expertise work together. A core part of ELRIG UK’s strategy is to broaden our community to increase the representation of scientists from academia, and to increase the representation of early career professionals within our community and across our working groups. The partnership with the BPS will accelerate that objective and the quality of the scientific content we deliver will benefit as a direct result. The partnership also gives those in the ELRIG UK community an opportunity to provide mentorship and support to early career pharmacologists in the BPS, who want to develop their connections with industry and their knowledge of drug discovery, so there is a great opportunity for our ELRIG UK community to give back and contribute actively to the partnership.

From the BPS’s perspective, working with ELRIG UK enables our Society to grow its reach and influence in the industrial sector. This helps to broaden our appeal to members working within the industrial sector, enrich our members’ research experiences with cutting edge technological advances, and offer members opportunities that may not have previously been accessible. Our Society is guided by the belief that pharmacology and therapeutics are evolving disciplines, and it is our responsibility to define, redefine and change our service to reflect these evolutions. We recognise these developments in pharmacology and therapeutics provide unique advancements to the research and development of new drugs, whilst improving the use of existing drugs to create better patient outcomes. To deliver on our ambitious goals as a Society, we understand that we must nurture our strategic partnerships across multiple disciplines and sectors to support these advancements. Therefore working with ELRIG UK was always a natural choice for us.

Finally, for both the BPS and ELRIG UK, working closely together on the various working groups and planning committees means we can learn and share ideas and ways of working that will serve to strengthen both organisations.

Reacting to the pandemic and sharing experiences

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The homepage of the BPS's Pharmacology 2020 platform

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ELRIG's virtual Drug Discovery event


Working together over the last 15 months, both organisations have learnt a great deal from each other. ELRIG UK showcased our agility and adaptability when we quickly successfully flipped events and content to digital forums to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The BPS was delighted to be a part of this digital evolution and partner on a webinar on AI in Drug Discovery in the initial phases of the pandemic. Both organisations took difficult decisions late in 2020 to convert our flagship meetings into virtual environments, with Drug Discovery taking place in early autumn and Pharmacology 2020 delivered in December. By working together and sharing knowledge and experiences, the communities of both ELRIG UK and the BPS benefited as we provided meetings that covered cutting edge science from global experts, alongside opportunities to collaborate and create connections despite the necessary Government restrictions.

Looking forward, we are planning our first joint meeting in June 2021, ‘Translating ideas into therapies’. Through this meeting, we will bring together the research community working in the field of new medicine creation with interests in developing their translational research ideas and applying novel technologies. The meeting will also provide a space for collaboration, to help address critical clinical needs. We have an exciting programme of speakers lined up and members can register their interest now. We look forward to seeing you there!

As restrictions on mass gathering start to relax over the coming months, both ELRIG UK and the BPS will be looking at how we can return to meeting in person and working together to promote each other’s meeting programmes to our members and communities. To find out more about ELRIG UK’s meeting programme click here and for the BPS here.

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Published: 24 Mar 2021

About the author

Rachel Lambert-Forsyth

Rachel is Chief Executive of the BPS and responsible for delivering the vision, mission and strategy of the British Pharmacological Society, and its subsidiary companies. Rachel is also Managing Director of BPS Assessment Ltd.

Melanie Leveridge

Melanie is the Chair of the ELRIG UK board and a Senior Director at GSK. Throughout her career, Melanie has led various technology collaborations, making her well-placed to steer ELRIG UK through the organisation’s next evolution. 

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