Since outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, our society recognized the need to establish translational biomedical research for emerging infectious diseases and other major diseases in Taiwan. Dr. Chi-Huey Wong was invited in 2003 by Former President Yuan-Tseh Lee of Academia Sinica (AS) as the founding Director of Genomic Research Center, and in 2005 he was assigned to organize the Summit Translational Program focusing on the translational research of the major diseases (including cancer, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases) and regenerative medicine in order to facilitate the development of new therapeutics and diagnostics. As the Program started in 2006, Dr. Wong invited several outstanding experts in the fields of clinical medicine, drug discoveries, and virus research to join. In the past 15 years, there are over 110 researchers and 90 labs of 11 institutes in AS and 8 departments in domestic universities/hospitals participating in this Program.
The aims of this Program are to support the establishment of important infrastructure and large-scale research collaboration to enable discovery research and development in the aforementioned disease areas. Our research team also planned to cooperate with Biomedical Translation Research Center (BioTReC) prior to its establishment in 2020 for the translational research of cancer, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases/regenerative medicine.
In this Program, we have successfully set up first High Throughput Drug Screening Facility in Asia, built chemical and antibody libraries, produced 400,000 RNAi, and developed glycan array. We also supported 11 core facilities in AS including Glycan Synthesis and Analytics Core, Mass Spectrometry Facility, High Throughput Genome Sequencing Facility, Biosafety Level 3 Laboratory, Antibody Development and Optimization Core, Animal Core Facility, Stem Cell/Regenerative Medicine Research Laboratories and Facilities. We aspired to strengthen our multidisciplinary research, accelerate the transfer of the novel research findings into clinical practice, promote academia-industry collaboration, and speed up the development of Taiwan’s biotechnology industry.
The representative achievements of this Program include more than 980 papers published in high impact journals, more than 280 novel research findings applied for patent and over 110 patents issued, and 56 technology transfer cases (8 novel drugs either entered clinical trials or to the market) which earned around 9 billion contract/authorization fee as well as 80 million tech stocks for AS. More than 850 students, 1,800 research assistants/postdoc fellows participated in this Program. We also assisted Biotechnology Incubation Center in AS to promote the growth to an estimated total market value of nearly 240 billion. The fruitful achievements are mainly due to the joint efforts of the scientists in this Program. In addition, it is worth mentioning that several technology platforms developed in this Program have been successfully applied to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and transferred to either domestic or international biopharmaceutical companies (including screening tests, the potential anti-COVID-19 compounds, etc.) to quickly respond to this life-threatening disease and open up new opportunities for international cooperation. All the accomplishments during the past 15 years allow us to prove that fundamental science can be translated to benefit global health, contribute to the development of the biotechnology industry in Taiwan.