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  • Sofia Lindén

CONNECT grows to 30 partners

CONNECT welcomes the two new partners Gilead Sciences Nordic Region and the Norwegian Directorate for E-health.

Karl Vestli, Division Director Strategy at the Norwegian Directorate for E-health, and Clemens Schödl, General Manager for Gilead Sciences Nordic Region.

The public-private consortium CONNECT was founded by 22 partners in December 2020 and has since then grown to 30 partners, with the latest additions being Gilead Sciences (Nordic Region) and the Norwegian Directorate of E-health.

Implementing precision cancer medicine

CONNECT was initiated by a group of public and private stakeholders with the joint goal to drive the implementation of precision cancer medicine in Norway. The number of stakeholders has grown steadily over the last two years, in parallel to the impressive advancements in precision cancer medicine in Norway.

The developments have been spearheaded by the public initiatives InPreD-Norway (a national infrastructure for precision cancer diagnostics) and IMPRESS Norway (a national researcher-initiated precision cancer medicine intervention trial). The three interconnected initiatives IMPRESS, InPRED and CONNECT gained wide-spread attention in a recent Letter to the Editor in Nature Medicine.

“Every year, thousands of people get cancer. Often, they are faced with the realization that their disease cannot be cured. A cornerstone of Gilead Sciences is making a difference for patients who really need it. A close and broad collaboration with research groups, healthcare, and authorities in platforms, such as CONNECT, ensures that clinical studies can be carried out and new drugs developed. Our vision is to eventually be able to cure patients with different types of severe cancer. For successful research to benefit patients, collaboration and partnership across sector boundaries is a basic prerequisite,” said Clemens Schödl, General Manager for Gilead Sciences Nordic region.

Gathering public and private stakeholders

CONNECT includes all six university hospitals, the Norwegian Medicine Agency, the Norwegian Health Directorate, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, the Norwegian Cancer Society, the Norwegian Pharmaceutical Industry Association (LMI), 15 pharmaceutical companies and two tech companies. Oslo Cancer Cluster is the coordinator for the consortium. The unique blend of participants enables CONNECT to address the complex challenges and opportunities associated with the implementation of precision cancer medicine in a public health care system.

“As an observer in CONNECT, the Norwegian Directorate for E-health gains valuable insights and knowledge from public-private collaboration, that we can utilise in our work to improve the collaboration with the health industry in the e-health field. CONNECT represents an important arena where all the central actors are gathered around a common goal – to strengthen the implementation of precision cancer medicine in Norway. We applaud the initiative and want to contribute to the success of CONNECT,” said Karl Vestli, Division Director Strategy, Norwegian Directorate for E-health.

Educational and political meetings

Since its establishment, CONNECT has carried out its activities through four working groups gathering experts from the public and private health sector. The working groups had regular digital meetings since February 2021, where they created a joint understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with the introduction of cancer precision medicine in a public healthcare setting and started the first initiatives.

CONNECT has also offered open, educational meetings and these are still available to be viewed via the CONNECT webpage Recordings of past events.

The next public meeting will take place during Arendalsuka on 16 August at 10:00 – 11:30 and the topic is ”The key to better cancer treatment is collaboration” . The event will include conversations about the activities of CONNECT, genetic testing, Norwegian clinical studies for cancer patients, how the healthcare service and health industry work together to develop new treatments, and how the Specialist Health Service collaborates with the Health Directorate. Please note: this event is in Norwegian only.

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