Distinguished scientists from three countries convened today at Oread Laboratories in Lawrence to advise the company on ways it can compete more successfully in the rapidly evolving international pharmaceutical industry.
"We're going to ask them to give us a view of their world. Oread is a worldwide business. We've got to get a worldwide view," said Howard Mossberg, chairman of Oread Labs.
Oread Labs, 1501 Wakarusa, conducts drug evaluation studies, analyzes chemical properties of a drug before it goes into clinical trial and custom manufactures drugs.
Much of the lab's work is on contract from companies that develop new pharmaceuticals. Kansas University faculty work with Oread Labs as consultants and researchers.
Ronald Borchardt, chair of the new Scientific Advisory Board at Oread and a KU professor, said the group would shape the future of the local pharmaceutical research and development firm.
"WE NEED advice more now than we did three or four years ago. Oread is like a kid in a candy store. There are so many opportunities. We must be focused on what we're doing," he said.
Mossberg, who is also KU's vice chancellor for research, graduate studies and public service, said Oread Labs had grown so much that it needed outside guidance to ensure future growth was efficient and organized.
Borchardt said the U.S. pharmaceutical industry was as strong or stonger than competing industries in Japan and European countries.
"The pharmaceutical industry in this country is one of the areas of technology that this country is still on the cutting edge," he said.
He said President Clinton's intention to modify this country's health-care system could lead pharmaceutical companies to adopt a more conservative strategy in terms of investing in drug research and development.
"THAT CAN BE viewed as a real opportunity for Oread," Borchardt said. "If companies become more conservative, they will higher fewer full-time employees and contract more work out."
The advisory board includes two researchers from Japan and one from the Netherlands. Several board members have ties to KU, said Borchardt, also acting dean of KU's School of Pharmacy.
"We wanted people who had a legitimate interest in Oread," he said.
One of the new board members, Dr. Daniel Azarnoff of San Francisco, was at KU Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., for 16 years. He retains a teaching appointment at KUMC.
Another member is Dale Boger, head of the chemistry department at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif. He received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from KU and served on KU's faculty until 1985.
THE TWO board members from Japan, Tsuneji Nagal of Tokyo and Hitoshi Sezaki of Kyoto, were research colleagues of the founder of Oread Labs.
Oread Labs was started in 1983 as a for-profit corporation by Takeru Higuchi, a distinguished professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at KU. He set up the company to move KU research findings more quickly into the commercial marketplace.
The other members of the board are Thomas Baille, University of Washington medicinal chemistry professor, and Douwe Breimer, research director Leiden/Amsterdam Center for Drug Research in the Netherlands.
Today, the advisory group was briefed on operations at Oread Labs and toured the company's facilities as well as the KU campus. The group will continue meetings Saturday.