Making a Career at Home is Contenting


With almost 40 million people Poland is an enormous potential market but considering the status of it's biotechnological industry it is a white spot. How much 'biotech' is there in Poland, the biggest of the EU candidate countries? EuroBioTechNews spoke with Prof. Tomasz Twardowski, president of the recently established Polish Federation of Biotechnology (PFB) about the brain drain problem, possible solutions and the benefits of making a career at home.

In which areas is the Polish biotechnology very active and which parts have not been sufficiently established yet?
The most efficient, and let's say the most 'powerful' activities take place in the molecular areas of biotechnology particulary in plant molecular biology and bioorganic chemistry. What is not functioning efficiently yet are the roles of the state authorities and the general logistics. This makes co-operation between academia and industry difficult. This regards in particular the transfer of innovative technologies and applications of scientific ideas into the practice. This is generally due to the problems correlated with the very restrictive national legislation and particularly to lack of knowledge of intellectual property rights.
Can you give us a short overview on the process how the PFB was founded? Who initiated it - the academic institutions or the biotech companies?
Unfortunately, and I'm saying this for a reason, the Polish Federation of Biotechnology was initiated and organised from academic institutions. We have received only minor input from the Polish industry. For basic reasons: the Polish biotechnology industry plays only a minor role in the Polish economy itself. We have quite a strong scientific society and a lot of people that are interested in and engaged with biotechnology at the academic level, but very few envisage themselves as industry biotechnologists. There used to be a strong classic biotechnology industry in Poland, but modern biotechnology is mostly in the hands of multinational companies. They actually don't conduct their research here, they are merely interested in the market.
What are the main milestones you would like to achieve for the Polish biotech companies in the next couple of years?
At first, we would like to establish a Polish industry which will be founded on national innovative technologies, that is Polish ideas. Secondly, we want to establish international cooperations and collaborations. Today there is a good co-operation between the Polish Acedemy of Sciences and the German Max Planck Society.
How do you plan to stop the so called 'brain drain' phenomenon - the problem that many Polish researches emigrate to western countries?
My idea might sound like a joke, but we will be looking and following what other western countries will do about it. This is because they have the same problem. We have a brain drain going from East to West. More and more people from Russia, the Ukraine and even from Vietnam and India apply for positions in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. And again, scientist from these three countries are seeking positions in Germany, France and the UK. Many researchers in Germany on the other hand chose to do their research in the US. So this is a common problem. Ideas like those of the German Max Planck Society, to grant so called 'come back' research fellowships might help. The first part of such a fellowship is to go abroad, the second part grants money to establish the laboratory at home.
In your career you too have been with Roche in the USA and at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. What were your reasons to continue your career in Poland?
A career in Poland is more satisfying and also more pleasant. In my home country, with my mothertounge, my family and my friends - I feel at home. And I'm pursuing my career at home.
We thank you for the interesting interview, Prof Twadowski!



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Krakow – Polish drug discovery specialist Selvita S.A. is to carry out virtual compound screening for a protein target provided by the Branford-based Institutes for Pharmaceutical Discovery (IPD) in the US. Selvita said the...



Warsaw – Poland’s policy concerning genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been challenged by the European Commission. In mid-March, the Commission sued Poland at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for establishing a ban on...



Szczecin/Greifswald – In Greifswald, the consensus in mid-March at the “Life Science for Health Economy – Chances and Challenges in Polish-German Cooperation” meeting was that the life sciences would benefit remarkably from...



Warsaw – Polish drugmaker Bioton S.A. and Iceland-based generics firm Actavis Group ptc announced in January that they are entering into a marketing and distribution collaboration agreement for Bioton’s insulins and insulin...



Warsaw – Merck, Sharp & Dome Polska is to expand its clinical research in the country. The company announced it is investing about US$ 50m in the creation of a data management centre where data from clinical trials conducted in...



Warsaw – Polish Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki has sharply criticised the European Commission’s proposal to let EU member states decide on their own whether or not to plant genetically mod­i­fied crops. “This proposal is not...



Krakow – Polish drug developer Selvita sp. z o.o. and Finnish drug and diagnostic firm Orion Corporation (Espoo) have entered into a global collaboration to jointly develop and commercialise Selvita’s oral compound SEL103 as a...



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Kraków/ Espoo – Finland’s Orion Corp and Polish drugmaker Selvita have agreed to collaborate on research and development of Selvita’s oral Alzheimer compound SEL103 program in multiple cognitive disorder indications. According to...

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