Support for emerging technology, tackling common R&D challenges and empowering patients are all top of the agenda for a new life sciences partnership.

The Pistoia Alliance, a global not-for-profit alliance that advocates for greater collaboration in life sciences R&D, has launched the Pistoia Alliance Pharma Innovation Council.

The Council is led by Alliance President Dr Becky Upton, and features 13 next-generation leaders from large global pharmaceutical companies who will explore common challenges at a grassroots level.

They will also seed ideas for new pre-competitive projects aligned with the Alliance’s strategic themes:

Emerging sciences and technology

Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of R&D

  Empowering the Patient

Support is also being offered by the Alliance’s Chief Portfolio Officer, Dr Hall Gregg, who has 30 years’ experience as a technology leader in the life sciences industry. Dr Gregg has held senior positions at Merck, Amgen and Pfizer as well as American Red Cross and Quest Diagnostics; her expertise spans digital strategy, data analytics, cyber and data security, organisational transformation, and talent development. Dr Gregg has helped create successful digital products for top global organisations, along with services delivering value and impact, and she is passionate about diversity in STEM.

“I joined the Pistoia Alliance because I see global collaboration as the key to unlocking the life science industry’s expertise,” she explained. “I am looking forward to working with colleagues and peers to advance the application of technology in life sciences and healthcare. The outputs from the Alliance’s portfolio of projects will accelerate research, improve responses to global health challenges, and most importantly, improve patients’ lives.”

The Pharma Innovation Council aims to produce one new project idea per theme and will bring together interested parties from member companies who could benefit from and want to invest in driving forwards these initiatives. Common industry challenges that emerged at their first meeting include the automation of data analysis, enabling the Lab of the Future, and the development of industry standards to enable collaboration. New projects will sit alongside the Alliance’s current portfolio of projects, now overseen by Dr Hall, which includes the IDMP Ontology Project, DataFAIRy Bioassay Annotation Project and Diversity & Inclusion in STEM Leadership program.

“By bringing in the next generation of diverse thinkers to create new Pistoia Alliance projects, we can keep doing what we do best – advancing collaboration in the life sciences,” commented Dr Becky Upton, President, Pistoia Alliance. “Our aim is to develop projects with tangible outcomes that shape the future of our industry. We were founded on the principle that breakthroughs in science are not made alone. With our new Council, and by bringing in Dr Hall to lead our portfolio, our commitment to working together to achieve success is stronger than ever.”

The inaugural meeting of the Council took place in January 2023. They will meet again on April 25 to discuss their new project proposals. The 13 members are collaborating under the following three working groups aligned with the Pistoia Alliance’s key strategic themes:

Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of R&D

  • Alex Villalobos, Sr. Associate Director, Operations Excellence Digital Lead, at Boehringer Ingelheim, USA, Connecticut
  • Andreas Steinbacher, Lead Discovery Informatics Data Management, at Roche, Germany
  • Jim Rinker, Senior Consultant, Data Integration and Analytics, at Elsevier, based in the USA, Pennsylvania
  • Linling Jiang, Head of Research Informatics China, at Novo Nordisk, based in China, Beijing
  • Mark McCreary, Sr. Director, Data Management and Curation, at Genentech Roche, based in the USA, California

Emerging Sciences and Technology

  • Chris Brabrandt, Head of Ideation & Scouting (Open Innovation) in the digital lab, at Boehringer Ingelheim, Germany
  • Giuseppe Cognetti, Head, Future of Healthcare and Excellence, at Takeda, USA, Boston.
  • Thomas Ehmer, Innovation Incubator Lead, at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

Empowering the Patient

  • David Johnson, Operations Team Lead, Director, at Takeda, USA
  • Jacque Lyons, Regulatory Creation Center Lead, at Pfizer, based in the USA, Pennsylvania
  • Dorian Tisdale, Director, RIM Data Standards, Governance and Operations Johnson & Johnson, USA, Greater Philadelphia.
  • Melissa van Dyke, Senior Director and Head, Research Epidemiology, at GSK, based in the USA, Greater Philadelphia
  • Andrew Buchanan, Principal Scientist at AstraZeneca, based in Cambridge, UK.

Find out more about the Pistoia Alliance’s portfolio of member-driven projects at