Gruppenbild: Thailands Wissenschaftsminister besucht Campus Berlin-Buch

Thailand’s Science and Technology Minister visits the Berlin-Buch campus

Developing ideas from basic research into a biotech start-up is no easy task. Thailand's Ministry of Science and Technology sent a 39-person delegation to find out how it’s done here at the MDC.

During the Global Bioeconomy Summit in Berlin, a delegation led by the Thai Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Suvit Maesincee, took the opportunity to visit the Berlin-Buch campus. The 39-strong delegation, which included politicians, representatives from Thailand’s National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) and its Office of Science and Technology in Brussels as well as researchers, wanted to see an example of a successful biotechnology campus. During their visit, they met with representatives from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association (MDC), the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) and the campus management company BBB Management, as well as from campus-based firms such as OMEICOS Therapeutics.

Thailand's Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Suvit Maesincee, (middle) with Martin Lohse (left) and Christina Quensel (right)

“We are very interested in developing a partnership with Berlin and learning from the city’s experience,” says Dr. Suvit Maesincee. “In Thailand, creating a research-based biotech industry is a high priority.”

Companies and research teams less than 100 meters apart

“From the very beginning, a characteristic feature of the campus has been the close cooperation between the research institutes and companies located here,” explains Dr. Christina Quensel, Managing Director of BBB Management. “It is an honor and a great compliment that our guests chose to visit this location to see how ideas from basic research end up being applied in start-ups and how we support that process.” As well as OMEICOS Therapeutics, other examples of such start-ups include Captain T Cell and Tubulis Technologies. Both companies emerged from the MDC and FMP and have recently received awards.

Thailand's Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Suvit Maesincee, (middle) and his delegation was greeted by Martin Lohse, Christina Quensel and Christian Hackenberger

“The MDC and the biotech park are less than 100 meters apart,” says Professor Martin Lohse, Chairman of the Board and Scientific Director of the MDC. “There are also facilities and Technology Platforms like the Screening Unit that are run and used jointly by the FMP and MDC. This personal contact supports the successful development of our ideas.” He also cites the campus infrastructure as important in attracting the best scientists from all over the world to Berlin. "We are part of the international scientific community. From Thailand, for example, heart specialist Dr. Suphansa Sawamiphak joined us in 2017 as a junior group leader following her postdoc in San Francisco. Meanwhile, a member of my research group, Dr. Titiwat Sungkaworn, has just relocated to Mahidol University in Bangkok, where he will be involved in setting up a new clinic and research campus.”

Tours of the Screening Unit and Biobank

A delegation from Mahidol University already visited the MDC and the Berlin Institute of Health (BIH ) in late March. The main focus of this visit was to see the Technology Platforms for Advanced Light Microscopy and Genomics and to talk to various research groups. This event sparked the idea of establishing a visiting program. Mahidol University is currently building a new clinic and research campus on the outskirts of Bangkok.

The delegation led by Thailand’s Minister of Science and Technology learned about aspects such as technology transfer activities and took tours of the Biobank and Screening Unit. “Facilities like the Screening Unit form an integral part of the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie,” explains Professor Christian Hackenberger, head of the Department of Chemical Biology II at the FMP. “We have created a unique environment here that facilitates research at the forefront of molecular life sciences, while also having great potential for application in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries.”

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