24 April 2024

The event offered a chance to discuss examples of, and future ideas for, mutually beneficial collaboration between industry and the profession.

As part of RCPath’s drive to forge stronger links with pathology-related industry, the College hosted an inaugural Industry Leaders’ Forum event at the College on 17 April. The event aimed to bring together leading experts from the breadth of pathology with key players in industry to discuss joint initiatives that will both help advance the profession and support and improve patient safety and patient care.

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The event combined talks on collaborations between industry and the profession with roundtable discussions on five key areas: IT (including LIMS), digital pathology and AI, cellular pathology, blood sciences, and the pharmaceutical sector. Delegates were mainly a mix of industry representatives and RCPath Fellows.

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Dr Bernie Croal, RCPath President, addressing delegates at the start of the RCPath Industry Leaders' Forum event

Dr Bernie Croal, RCPath President,  opened the event with a keynote address that highlighted the importance of collaboration to address the many difficulties and threats facing healthcare, pathology and laboratory medicine, and patient outcomes. He emphasised the many benefits that diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies can gain through working in partnership with the College, and vice versa. Dr Croal gave examples of possible joint initiatives such as educational activities and asked that delegates used the Industry Leaders’ Forum to share further ideas and aims for future College-industry collaborations.

A series of speakers working in a wide range of pathology-related sectors then took to the stage. BIVDA’s CEO, Helen Dent and ABHI’s Executive Director for Diagnostics, Nishan Sunthares both gave talks around the title ‘The importance of industry and the profession working together for the benefit of healthcare’. This was followed by an example of where such an approach has been applied successfully in practice – Dr Michael Eden, who is the RCPath Clinical Director for Patient Safety and Quality and a consultant histopathologist, talked through his work on automation in histopathology in collaboration with the company Axlab. Axlab’s UK Lead, Matt Anderton also spoke about the benefits of working collaboratively on solving specific problems in the ‘journey’ of a cellular pathology specimen with a process-based approach. 

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Dr Michael Eden presenting at RCPath's Industry Leaders' Forum event.

The morning session also included fascinating talks from Professor Carel Le Roux on the Europe-wide project ‘Innovative Health Initiative’ and on private sector pathology from Sonic Healthcare UK’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rachael Liebmann OBE.

Delegates were then given the chance to learn more about the RCPath’s award-winning building via a short presentation from Event@No6’s Sales and Marketing Manager, Tiziano Rossi, and tours led by members of his team. 

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Delegates networking at the RCPath's inaugural Industry Leaders' Forum event.

The lunchtime break was a chance to network and discuss points raised during the morning session while enjoying the delicious food provided by the talented chef team in the Events@No6’s onsite kitchen. 
Professor Darren Treanor opened the afternoon session with an engaging presentation on working with industry in digital pathology. As an early adopter and ‘pioneer’ of digital pathology in the UK, Professor Treanor discussed his collaborations with various companies to bring digital pathology technology into NHS pathology labs. He stressed the importance of strong long-term relationships for ensuring success with such partnerships. He also highlighted how the College’s Digital Pathology Committee has led the way on digital pathology with multi stakeholder engagement and publication of guidelines and position statements.

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Professor Carel Le Roux facilitating the roundtable discussion on the pharmaceutical sector. 

Delegates at the Industry Leaders’ Forum then participated in roundtable discussion sessions on five different topics. These 45-minute discussions on IT (including LIMS), digital pathology and AI, cellular pathology, blood sciences, and the pharmaceutical sector were facilitated by experts in each topic area, many of whom had presented talks in the morning session. discussed key questions, supported by an RCPath staff member who recorded responses. After the lively discussions, delegates were brought back together and Professor Angharad Davies, RCPath Clinical Director for Publishing and Engagement, then invited each facilitator to summarise the key points their group had highlighted to the rest of the delegates. Several common themes emerged in response to a question around the aims for industry in terms of future collaborations with the RCPath, including education, sharing best practice and improving automation and efficiency. RCPath Registar, Professor Sarah Coupland,  summed up these key ‘take-home’ points from the discussions before Dr Bernie Croal gave closing remarks.

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College Registrar, Professor Sarah Coupland, summing up key points from the roundtable discussion sessions.

We will be writing up the key points highlighted during the discussion sessions in a document we will share widely. We will set out areas of work that we intend to focus on in collaboration with industry. The College also intends that this event will pave the way for other such meetings involving both industry and College Fellows and members in the future. Benefits to both members and patients will underpin all our plans in this area. 

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We also used the Industry Leaders’ Forum event as a chance to flag the opportunities that our Corporate Membership Scheme opens up for diagnostics and pharmaceutical companies. In our increased focus on corporate engagement the RCPath is looking to involve a wide range of companies in our work. We are also exploring opportunities to develop bespoke longer-term partnerships with companies whose aims align most readily with our strategy.

Get in touch with Corporate and Public Engagement Manager, Penny Fletcher on [email protected], for more information.