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ERIC 2020 | Networking: science and politics making a change in CLL

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Ulrich Jäger

Ulrich Jäger, MD, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria, discusses the networking session at ERIC 2020. Prof. Jäger is a member of the European Affairs Committee at the European Hematology Association (EHA), and believes that to make ground in leukemia, action needs to be taken at a political level. In order to make an impact at a political level, more specific experts need to be involved. This involves decisions made over grant acquisition, clinical trial regulations and drug regulations. This interview took place during the European Research Initiative on CLL (ERIC) International Virtual Meeting 2020.

Transcript (edited for clarity)

This talk was part of the ERIC networking session. And I was representing EHA as a member of the European Affairs Committee of EHA. This is an initiative which aims on, let’s say, fostering hematology and promoting hematology on the strategic and political level. Because we realized a few years ago that we do not make enough impact on the political landscape in Europe. And that’s why we try to bolster that...

This talk was part of the ERIC networking session. And I was representing EHA as a member of the European Affairs Committee of EHA. This is an initiative which aims on, let’s say, fostering hematology and promoting hematology on the strategic and political level. Because we realized a few years ago that we do not make enough impact on the political landscape in Europe. And that’s why we try to bolster that.

In regard to ERIC, ERIC, of course, is one of our pillars within the scientific working groups and as such mainly organized scientifically. But I think if you want to obtain grants, etc, and make an impact, then you have to act on the political level as well. So where we see connections with our CLL ERIC scientific working group as EHA is number one, that there are many instances where we need specific experts. So we turn to the working groups and say, well, there is a political statement or something going on at the EU level, and we need a CLL expert or more experts. For instance, when diagnostics are harmonized or when harmonization of several guidelines is needed, etc.

So, that’s the one level. On the other hand, we can provide help to ERIC on the regulatory level because we are lobbying or, let’s say, we are also teaming up with organizations like EMA in terms of changing regulations for personalized medicine, for instance, trial regulations. We are trying to reduce the bureaucratic burden on the clinical researchers, etc. And there we can support ERIC.

And of course there is also a large registry within ERIC that could be used by EMA, for instance, for drug approval, etc, and real world evidence generation. So there are many things where we could network together for our cause.

Very important to me is also patient involvement. I think it’s important not only to look at the science, but if want to get things done, then in the center of all our activities is the patient. And patient organizations should be part of these activities.

And then grant acquisition, of course, for every scientific group is important. And there, we, I think, have made an impact on the Horizon Europe Program in terms of how the program is shaped and how the calls will be made. And there ERIC, I think, is also affected by our political actions.

In total, I think there is a lot of overlap and activities that we do together in terms of regulations and policy. And ERIC is an important stakeholder in this respect.

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