20 01 2009

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Novartis Institute for Tropical Disease (NITD) is a Singapore-based tropical disease research institute created through a public-private partnership between Novartis and the Singapore Economic Development Board. Research at NITD focuses primarily on developing novel small molecule therapies for tropical infectious diseases that are endemic to the developing world, particulary dengue fever, malaria and tuberculosis.[1][2]

History and mission

NITD was founded in 2002 as a public-private partnership between Swiss-based pharmaceutical company Novartis and the Singapore Economic Development Board.[1]

NITD states its goals are “to discover novel treatments and prevention methods for major tropical diseases.” Their website states they hope to have at least two drug candidates going through clinical trials in patients by the year 2012.[2]

Novartis has also stated that the NITD will seek to make treatments developed by the NITD available without profit to the poor in developing nations in which these diseases are endemic.[3]


NITD is a small molecule drug discovery research institute.[1]

Research is currently focused on three main diseases:[2]

NITD’s research model relies on global partnership with other research institutes.[1] In 2008, NITD announced a 5-year collaborative research effort would be conducted in cooperation with the TB Alliance to develop new medicines for tuberculosis, including drug resistant tuberculosis.[4]


In addition to research, NITD is engaged in educational activities. It runs a research-based Master of Science program in fields related to infectious diseases in cooperation with National University of Singapore, University of Basel and Swiss Tropical Institute.[5]

NITD also supports training opportunities for post-graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.[2]


External link

I guess this means I’m officially a sell-out and a drone of Big Pharma™?

I came across the NITD while doing background research on Novartis activities in Asia-Pacific. As long as there is sufficient oversight, public-private partnerships like this can mean more science gets done, and removes competition between (what I think should be) two totally different models of innovation.

This article was pretty easy to piece together out of press releases and the institute’s own website. If I do say myself, it is generally neutral and sedate in its tone. It possibly could do with additional third party coverage, but I suspect any of that (if any) will be Singapore print media, which I don’t exactly have access to.




2 responses

8 02 2009

“Big Pharma” is not a good phenomenon overall – companies with CEOs who know next to nothing about science and public health raking in huge amounts of money, and focusing more on marketing than cures – but if some of the cashflow goes into sponsoring things like NITD that redeems them a bit.

9 02 2009

But would a Pharma whose CEOs had little knowledge of science and/or public health really succeed? Sounds like a recipe for failure for failure to me. I doubt it would really characterise the CEOs of most of the companies that make up “Big Pharma”.

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