The Valley of Life: A fertile collaboration

Most people are somewhat familiar with the Bible and the Book of Genesis. According to its first chapter, God created man (male and female) in his own image on the sixth day, blessed them and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it.”

Multiplication complications
Being a scientist, I rarely quote the Bible in my professional work. However, I think it is fair to say that humankind has been quite successful as a species. We have multiplied and now have a relatively advanced knowledge and understanding of natural science, the human anatomy and nature and biology as such.

Despite this general success in multiplying and as mastering our biological environment, today an increasing number of couples are struggling with the multiplying part.

Tacking infertility
Involuntary childlessness is actually a very common condition, affecting 15 to 20 percent of all couples, and infertility is obviously a great burden for the individual couples as well as for the society struggling with an ageing population and low fertility in general. In Denmark, 8-10 percent of all children are today born as a result of medically-assisted reproduction treatment. Consequently, the demand for better, more effective treatment is enormous.

Fortunately, infertility and reproductive research are some of the research areas in which we have a long-standing tradition and record of accomplishment in Medicon Valley. In addition, with the recent joint Danish-Swedish initiative ReproUnion, we are now aspiring to become world leaders in overcoming infertility.

The cradle of life
The planned collaboration involves more than 50 PhD students and approximately 30 senior researchers within the area of reproductive medicine. The idea to develop a common Reproductive Medicine Centre – which is based on a multi-disciplinary concept including research, education and career development, prevention and treatment – will literally make Medicon Valley the cradle of life.

The 110 million kroner ReproUnion partnership is co-financed through the EU and consists of a collaborative network of 12 clinical and research units within the Capital Region of Denmark, Region Zealand of Denmark, and Region Skane in Southern Sweden. The partnership also includes Medicon Valley Alliance and Ferring Pharmaceuticals.

Infertility is a perfect example of a life science challenge that we can help overcome more efficiently with increased regional co-operation. I guess you can say that this adds yet another meaningful definition to the term ‘life science’.