Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Carlo Rinaldi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics. In his story, Carlo shares his experience of collaborating with various industry partners, discussing the transformative impact on his research and own career development, and also reflecting on the evolving culture of academic-industry partnerships.

Photo of Carlo Rinaldi alongside quote "I am pleased to see that research culture within both academia and industry is evolving and the boundaries between the two are blurring. More and more we are discovering that, if we want to make an impact, we really need each other."

Tell us about your route into working with industry  

Since my early years as a neurology resident, I have always been fascinated by how much shortcomings in the understanding of the mechanisms of neurological diseases go hand in hand with the lack of treatment options for patients. This realisation propelled me to seek training in translational science at academic institutions with a track record in bridging the gap between laboratory research and clinical application, nurturing my passion for developing effective therapies for neurological diseases. It was during my PhD that I realized the critical role of industry in this journey: results that stemmed from my work led to the development of a small molecule that is currently being tested in a first in human clinical trial, which is something I could have never imagined to achieve without a close industry partnership in place.  

Since this initial experience, have you gone onto work with other companies?  

Over the years, I have been fortunate to work with several companies, from WAVE Life Sciences to Moderna and Novartis on a number of programmes, from the development of next-generation antisense oligonucleotides to platforms for improved drug delivery. In 2023 I also founded a biotech company, Isogenix Limited, which is now fully operational at the BioEscalator. The funding and the shared expertise have been absolutely critical for my academic development and to support my research group. 

What motivates you to work with industry? 

Industry partnerships offer access to resources, technologies, and expertise that are often beyond the reach of academic institutions alone. This collaboration can accelerate the development and testing of new therapies, ensuring that promising research does not languish in the lab but instead progresses to clinical trials and, ultimately, to patients in need.  

As academics, we often perceive self-sufficiency as a positive trait. Aside from access to advanced technologies and infrastructure, that may not be readily available within academic institutions, and exposure to regulatory and commercial aspects of the drug development process, working with industry has taught me the value of fostering a collaborative environment that brings together diverse expertise and perspectives. The University of Oxford has been incredibly supportive in establishing relationships with industry, offering comprehensive assistance from patent filing to setting up contracts and managing investment. 

How is the culture and attitudes towards academic-industry collaboration changing?  

Traditionally life scientists interested in translational research had to choose between two career paths: academia or industry. Each had its own distinct culture, defined by unique core objectives and distinctive approaches to managing research systems, reputations, and rewards, with academic research focusing on uncovering a basic understanding of science and industry being highly goal-oriented, prioritizing the development of marketable therapies.  

As scientific problems are becoming more complex, cross-disciplinary, and costly to tackle, I am pleased to see that the research culture within both academia and industry is evolving and the boundaries between the two are blurring. More and more we are discovering that, if we want to make an impact, we really need each other