Toscana Life Sciences: insights and collaborations explored at the European Parliament

December 2023
By Maximilian Powell

In a roundtable held on December 5th, 2023, titled ‘Toscana Life Sciences: Navigating EU Collaborations and Insights,’ Commission representatives, Members of the European Parliament, and eminent European scientists convened to explore the continent’s most pressing health issues.

The discussion focused on Toscana Life Sciences’ (TLS) dedication to advancing applied research and innovation within biotechnology and life sciences. Professor Rino Rappouli underscored the organisation’s commitment to addressing urgent global challenges such as pandemics and antimicrobial resistance, acknowledging their paramount significance in today’s world.

MEP Daniela Rondinelli, who hosted the panel, set the tone by reflecting on the pandemic’s impact. She celebrated the exceptional solidarity witnessed among member states during the vaccine campaign and praised initiatives like SURE for fortifying pandemic preparedness. Rondinelli advocated for harnessing the transformative potential of the Next Generation EU financial model, particularly in directing resources towards long-term green transition initiatives and prioritizing public health concerns across the European Union.

A key focus area for this prioritization lies within the current subcommittee on public health (SANT), with MEP Alessandra Moretti proposing its evolution towards obtaining legislative power as a full-bodied committee. Addressing the silent pandemic of Antimicrobial Resistance, Moretti stressed the imperative need for judicious antibiotic usage and greater emphasis on research and development in this domain. Cypriot MEP Eleni Stavrou echoed these sentiments, emphasizing collective responsibility in pandemic preparedness, particularly highlighting its disproportionate impact on women across the EU and the need for increased investment in research and development.

Rainer Becker, Director at DG SANTE, highlighted the demographic challenge posed by aging populations and advocated for sustainable health systems through innovative measures. He proposed extensions in patent protection for innovative medicines and regulatory simplifications to expedite approval processes, emphasizing the pivotal role of digitalization in streamlining procedures.

Insightful questions from the panel’s moderator, Gianni D’Errico, led to contributions such as Professor Michel Pletschette underscoring the necessity of resource consolidation, akin to practices observed in Siena, to tackle the exorbitant costs of pandemics. Professor Peter Piot, renowned for his groundbreaking work on Ebola and AIDS, echoed Pletschette’s emphasis on the indispensability of international collaboration in combating pandemics and the continued investment in scientific research.

The event marks one of the initial steps in fostering a dialogue and collaboration between TLS and the EU institutions. In her conclusion, MEP Rondinelli echoed Professor Rappoulis’ vision of a harmonious partnership between the public and private sectors as indispensable in achieving impactful results. The collective consensus from the panel highlighted the imperative for concerted efforts, emphasizing collaboration, continued investment in research, and the creation of a more equitable society to combat contemporary inequalities.