Meet the team behind c4c! We are a diverse group of people from many different backgrounds, but all of us are working towards a common goal: better medicines for children through European clinical trials.

 

Today’s spotlight is on Lionel Tan, one of the industry representatives helping to steer the direction of c4c.

Lionel Tan is currently leading the development of paediatric medicines at ViiV Healthcare, a global specialist HIV company 100% dedicated to HIV medicines and research. ViiV Healthcare is majority-owned by pharmaceutical multinational GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Lionel has been working in the pharmaceutical industry for about six years following a career in the academic world.

“I was a clinical academic at Imperial College London until 2016,” he says. “I did laboratory-based research on vaccines for bacterial infections and also worked as a consultant infectious diseases physician in the hospital. I moved into the pharmaceutical industry to have a more direct impact on developing and ultimately introducing new medicines for patients.  I have been fortunate to have worked on getting new drugs approved for use in children. However, I do love the laboratory-based research and still miss helping to take care of individual patients as a clinician.”

Although he has a background as an adult physician, Lionel has been focusing on paediatric drug development programs in the last 2-3 years. This transition was in part triggered by an experience he had after the birth of his third child, who was born prematurely. “On a visit to the neonatal intensive care to see my daughter, I looked at the antibiotics that were being used in my daughter and thought these are actually quite old antibiotics – we didn’t use this combination of medicines so frequently in adults anymore. It struck me how many more medicines are available for adults compared to children and it made me think – why did it take so long to develop medicines for children?

 

Helping to bridge two worlds

Lionel was very involved in the initial set-up phase of c4c. “I helped to develop some of the infrastructure of the c4c network, for example I was involved in the task that developed the “single point of contact” (SPOC), which is the online platform for all requests and inquiries to c4c made by sponsors, sites and investigators involved in paediatric trials. I was also involved in helping to define the purpose and terms of service of some of the organizational structures of c4c, such as the Network Committee (NetComm) and how they relate to other structures within the c4c framework. This is crucial to ensure that such a large group of partners can collaborate successfully. I am now one of the industry representatives in NetComm.”

 

With his background in academia and his current role in the pharmaceutical industry, Lionel is perfectly placed to improve the collaboration between the two worlds that meet in c4c. “In my role, it is my task to ensure that the voice of the industry is heard, as it is expected that industry will continue to work with c4c after it has become a separate entity.  I can empathise with both positions that are discussed and try to help to bridge the expectations of both types of project partners – we are certainly cooperating much better than at the beginning of the project. However, ultimately, we have to remember that, whether we are from industry or academia, we all want the same thing: to develop better medicines for children.”

 

Ensuring the future of the project

In spite of the pandemic, we have managed to make c4c work and it’s incredible to see the progress,” says Lionel. “We now need to make sure the project can continue in the long term and I’m really hopeful that we can do that.”

 

What he does currently miss in c4c is the face-to-face interaction. “We’ve been having a lot of meetings online, but it’s really not the same as, for example, being able to connect with people within the network during the annual General Assembly and work through problems in person. I think we are all looking forward to being able to celebrate the many successes of c4c in person.”