Nils Brünner, who has decades of experience within the field of oncology as both a clinician and Professor at University of Copenhagen as well as top manager and founder within innovative biotech companies, has been called upon Lund University’s Medical Faculty to be part of their board. Dr. Brünner sat down with BioStock to discuss the implications of this new role.

Scandion Oncology, based in Copenhagen, has been a part of Danish biotech innovation since 2017 and has three candidates in its portfolio, one of which, SCO-101, just got the final approval from the Danish Medicines Agency for testing in a phase II clinical study. This candidate has shown the promising ability to block cancer’s resistance to some of the most common forms of chemotherapy.

The company is headed by Nils Brünner, MD, DMSc, who brings decades worth of experience in the field of oncology and biotech. Highlights from his career include more than 370 scientific publications within translational cancer research from his position as Professor at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen since 2002, plus several advisory and managerial positions at Danish and Swedish biotech companies. He is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Copenhagen.

Dr. Brünner can now add another top position to his career portfolio, as he has recently been appointed as a board member to the Faculty of Medicine of one of Sweden’s most prestigious universities, Lund University.

The Board of the Faculty of Medicine is responsible for overall guidelines and decisions concerning the activities of the faculty, making this an extremely important role to undertake.

BioStock has reached out to Scandion Oncology’s CEO for a comment.

Nils Brünner, CEO of Scandion Oncology, could you go into more detail about your new role as a Lund University Faculty of Medicine board member?  

– First of all, I am very proud to have been selected for this prestigious position. I will be humble and need to see and understand how Lund University is working. I then expect to contribute with my experience from the University of Copenhagen and from my work in Danish and Swedish biotech companies together with my experience in cross boarder activities through the Medicon Valley Alliance (MVA).

For readers who may not be so familiar with the academic world, could you give us a quick overview of the function and responsibilities of a medical faculty board at a prestigious university like Lund University?

– As I just said, I need to understand how Lund University is working and I then hope to contribute with innovative strategies. I expect the work to be exiting and to learn a lot about Swedish academia. It is especially the strategic parts that I look forward to contributing to.

Which area of the faculty’s operations will you represent, specifically?

– It is the Medical Faculty Board, so it will mainly be my background in internal medicine and oncology that will be the basis for my work. Moreover, I have as Professor in Copenhagen developed new teaching strategies and will be looking forward to taking part in discussions about future teaching at Lund University. However, I believe that all Universities will gain from having board members who have personal experience (hands on) within inventions, spin-outs and running a biotech company including how to get the needed capital.

How were you recruited to this position? Have you been involved with Lund University in the past?

– I have for the last 10-15 years had good friends and collaborators in Lund and Malmö hospitals and Lund University. For example, for several years I was Board Member of CREATE Health, which is a translational cancer program headed by Professor Carl Borrebaeck in Lund. I was contacted by a good friend in Lund who asked if they could recommend me for this position. I was very pleased and honoured and said yes immediately, of course. 

Nils Brünner, CEO of Scandion Oncology

What does this role mean to you, both personally and professionally?

– I was born in Borås and have always felt as being half Swedish. So, it means a lot to me personally to be back in business in Sweden. Professionally, this is also in line with my prior activities including CEO for the Swedish Biotech Company WntResearch, co-founder of Oncology Venture that was listed on the Swedish Stock market and now co-founder and CEO of Scandion Oncology, which is also listed on the Swedish Stock market. In addition, I have, together with Professor Carl Borrebaeck from Lund University, established the Medicon Valley Alliance Oncology Network.

Do you think this position will benefit, or possibly come in conflict, with your work as CEO at Scandion Oncology? If so how?

– I certainly hope that both Lund University and Scandion Oncology will benefit from my new position.

– I want a strong collaboration between Universities and Biotech companies – a collaboration that might be needed in order for both parties to have success.

You will likely come in contact with several high-level representatives from both Lund University but also from Region Skåne, which include the Skåne University Hospital. What are your professional expectations from these interactions? 

– I am really looking forward to such an interaction and again, all involved parties should benefit from the collaboration. The Region of Southern Sweden and of Copenhagen are strongholds within biotech and I will do my best to further strengthen this development

How do you expect Lund University will gain from your vast knowledge and experience within the oncology field?

– I have a very broad international network within oncology. This network was created during my time in the Board of Directors of the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) and from serving in the Translational and Clinical Scientific Advisory Board of Cancer Research UK (CRUK). I will be more than happy to share my network with scientists and oncologist in Lund and Malmö. Moreover, I have in Copenhagen worked hard to get basic scientists and oncologist to work together. If needed, I will promote such collaboration also in Sweden.

You also have a faculty position as Professor Emeritus at the University of Copenhagen. Will this have any major implications as far as making decisions for LU’s Medical Faculty? If so, what are they?

– I will work for an even closer collaboration between these two high-level Universities. One example is to try to get common funding mechanisms between the two Universities: funding that will require collaboration across Öresund.

»I am very proud to have been selected for this prestigious position. I will be humble and need to see and understand how Lund University is working. I then expect to contribute with my experience from the University of Copenhagen and from my work in Danish and Swedish biotech companies together with my experience in cross boarder activities through the Medicon Valley Alliance« — Nils Brünner, CEO of Scandion Oncology

On a more general note, how important is it, in your opinion to bring together the Danish biomedical experience with the Swedish one at this level?

– Very, very important. I am a team player, and my vision is that creating teams that focus on specific medical problems will create new important knowledge to the benefit of patients but also new biotech companies that one day might grow large and turn into real pharma companies.

And finally, in terms of cultural differences between the two countries, how valuable is the diversity within a faculty board such as this one, do you feel there should be even more diversity?

– I like diversity, and it is from diversity that innovation arises.

The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.

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