Reserach & Innovation

Experts Statements: Dr. Timo Flessner, Bayer

The Winning Formula: Chemists Who Can Collaborate Will Thrive in Pharmaceutical Research, Experts Predict

07.12.2016 -

Despite tremendous challenges facing the pharmaceutical industry, it continues with its commitment to innovation and the discovery of novel drugs to address unmet medical needs. Indeed, medicinal chemists face a challenge of their own. Trying to survive in a changing environment where pharma is focusing on biologics drug candidates will require chemists to adapt.

CHEManager International asked R&D experts of chemical and pharmaceutical companies to elaborate on their research strategy and share their opinion with our readers. In detail, we interviewed professionals ranging from CEOs to heads of R&D and process development about:

The crucial success factors in chemical and pharmaceutical research.

Dr. Timo Flessner:Œ Fostering a broad, deep-diving and continuously growing chemical expertise in diverse and motivated teams is critically important both in medicinal chemistry and process chemistry. Here, you need the right mixture of open-minded senior experts, so-called thoroughbred chemists, with many years of industry experience under their belts, as well as young chemists, freshly educated and highly motivated, who bring in state-of-the-art scientific knowledge and modern ways of working. Offering appropriate career opportunities for chemists within chemical functions also is a crucial factor for success. Once you have set up a diverse team of highly skilled experts, you need to facilitate an environment of active exchange: internally, between the team members, as well as in close collaboration with external stakeholders — be it academic or industrial. And within the teams, you need to be able to professionally challenge each other to come up with the best solution — as a team.


Once you have set up
a diverse team of … experts,
you need to facilitate
an environment of active exchange.

Dr. Timo Flessner,
Head of Chemical Development,
Pharmaceutical Division, Bayer


Challenges and changes affecting the work of R&D chemists in the future.

Dr. Timo Flessner: Increased complexity is a significant challenge that R&D chemists face today. This is especially true for pharmaceutical R&D and applies to all areas, be it in the identification of innovative drug candidates, dealing with longer-sequenced, more complex synthesis routes or specific regulatory requirements. The diversity of new technologies, e.g., combinations of small molecules — pure chemistry — and biologics such as in antibody-drug-conjugates, adds to the increased complexity. Here, dedicated high-end expertise and resources are required and need to be established, often with the help of external sources. Coping with the further enhanced necessity to collaborate, both internally as well as across the scientific landscape, is another challenge for R&D chemists today. In my eyes, however, this is also an opportunity: Close collaboration and interaction will ensure the future need and success of scientific excellence in chemistry.