Pharma Focus Europe

Global Drug Delivery and Formulation Summit

Stephen Buckley, Vice President, Novo Nordisk


1. Tell us about your current role at Novo Nordisk.

Currently, I’m VP of Advanced Drug Delivery at Novo Nordisk. Much of my role focuses on understanding drug delivery needs across our Research & Early Development portfolio, and identifying novel technologies, either internally generated or via partnerships, which can address these needs. It involves working closely with a breadth of stakeholders across our R&ED organisation, while also engaging heavily with the drug delivery ecosystem to drive establishment of value-adding partnerships, which can propel our project pipeline forward. In particular, our focus revolves around injectable and oral routes of delivery, focusing new modalities such as peptides, proteins, RNAi, peptide-oligo conjugates and complex small molecules such as PROTACs/molecular glues.

2. What’s the most exciting aspect of your projects/industry?

Undoubtedly, the innovative mindset which underpins our industry. Drug delivery science has made significant global health impact in so many ways over the past many decades (whether its delivery of mRNA via LNPs during the COVID pandemic, to oral delivery of biologics, to polymer-based systems for infrequent administration of drugs). It’s hugely motivating to be part of an industry which has such an impact of global health and is continuously driving forward to make the next breakthrough.

3. What do you think will be the biggest changes in your industry over the next 5 years?

We will see continued increase in investment and corresponding advancement of efforts across the new modalities landscape. In particular, nucleic acid-based therapeutics will solidify their presence across the pipelines of large pharma, while the established success and progress of more established new modalities such as peptides, will spur more and more investment in this space. That being said, various breakthroughs in structural biology will continue to drive a renaissance in small molecule sciences and I expect renewed efforts across the industry to capitalise on new possibilities as it relates to protein structure prediction and novel computational approaches. Lastly, as our science evolves, we will start to finally be able to make some tangible breakthroughs in advancing efforts around personalised medicines, which thus far have made only modest progress.

4. Do you have any predictions regarding the direction you'd like your industry to take in the future?

For drug delivery, we’re seeing an increased focus on patient centricity i.e., how can we provide and deliver novel treatments in the most effective and convenient way to patients. Like other industries, there is a growing focus and appreciation of the positive impact that AI can make on our efforts to innovate and discover and develop the next generation of drug delivery technologies. Lastly, a recognition of the importance of sustainability is ever growing; focusing on how as an industry we can secure circularity in the way we work and innovative, and be responsible for continuously striving to shrink the environmental footprint associated with our industry.

5. Additionally, what topic have you chosen to discuss at this year’s Global DDF and why.

My talk will focus on the obstacles presented by biological barriers to the successful delivery of new modalities to the systemic circulation and/or target organs. Specifically, I touch upon some efforts around overcoming the gastrointestinal tract and the significant barrier it represents to delivering larger molecules such as peptides into the systemic circulation; and also address access to the CNS for biologics and the opportunities for navigating the blood brain barrier by means of hijacking endogenous transport mechanisms.

6. What do you like about Global DDF?

The meeting in Berlin brings together a unique and eclectic mix of attendees, representing big pharma, biotech, academia and technology vendors. Reflecting this, the agenda and topics covered are contemporary and reflective of those which are high on minds of our industry. The format – a mix of presentations, panel discussions and technology pitches – lends itself to a highly interactive experience, providing amply opportunity to network and connect with folks working across the entire spectrum of the drug delivery field.

Author Bio

Stephen Buckley

Dr. Stephen T. Buckley is Director and Head of Oral Delivery Technologies at Novo Nordisk A/S, Denmark. In addition to his leadership responsibilities, he is responsible at Novo Nordisk for a cross-organizational team of scientific experts tasked with identifying and evaluating advanced drug delivery technologies. He holds a degree in Pharmacy from Trinity College Dublin (Ireland), and a Ph.D in Biopharmaceutics and Cell Physiology from the same university. During this time, he also worked as a Visiting Fellow at the University of Southern California (USA). Prior to joining Novo Nordisk A/S, Dr. Buckley was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Southern Denmark (Denmark). He is the recipient of honors and awards from the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) and the Scandinavian and German Physiological Societies. He is (co-) author of 25+ articles in peer-reviewed journals (including Science and Science Translational Medicine), 1 book chapter and 30+ abstracts, and has been invited to give numerous presentations at research institutions, international conferences and workshops.

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