NeuroMLab, a new multidisciplinary alliance to fight Alzheimer

NeuroMLab, Neurology Management Lab

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SDA Bocconi partners with Biogen and SIN 

Can you learn more from the experience you gather in time through a long research process, or from the urge to face a disruptive event? Rarely in recent history have we been asking this question as in the last few months. Probably the best answer scientists and medical doctors – and society as a whole – managed to work out is that there is no answer. It’s not a matter of which of the two processes is more important or if one is an alternative to the other. The best solutions are born when you can capitalize acquired knowledge and test it in the face of new events. When you can marry your certainties with your critical skills, your rigor with the ability to innovate.

 

Projects such as SDA Bocconi’s NeuroMLab (Neurology Management Lab) perfectly express this awareness, at the institutional level. NeuroMLab has been launched by the School this year in partnership with Biogen, a major biotech company specializing in neurosciences, and with the support of the Italian Neurology Society (SIN, Società Italiana di Neurologia). The initiative taps into the prior Multiple Sclerosis Management Lab successful experience (since 2015), building on the knowledge accumulated in time about the treatment and management of specific chronic diseases (such as multiple sclerosis) on the one hand, and on the huge challenges Covid-19 posed in terms of new treatment and experimentation models, on the other hand.

 

“Multiple sclerosis has become a paradigm of early-onset chronic conditions calling for different approaches”, says Valeria Tozzi, SDA Bocconi’s Master’s in Health Management Director (MiMS, Master in Management per la Sanità), who created the two Labs. “What we have learnt in this area forms now a solid platform to rethink models for treating and managing neurological conditions, Alzheimer in the first place. We call these conditions ‘high-complexity diseases’, a definition that has been adopted in the National Plan for Chronic Diseases launched by the Italian Department for Health in 2016”.

 

NeuroMLab has three main areas of activity: research in specific fields, education (based on workshops that allow sharing and treasuring the diverse perspectives of mixed participants such as neurologists, nurses, chemists and hospital managers), and periodic publishing of results. “Neurosciences are an extremely interesting kaleidoscope from the points of view of both therapy and management”, says Tozzi. “Besides being a frontier for medical research and the development of new drugs, they pose great managerial and organizational challenges: Alzheimer, for instance, affects a large segment of the population and demands an increasingly hard work to monitor and prevent it. This means reinventing the treatment model”.

 

The coronavirus has then popped into this process towards advanced innovation, with its disruptive impact on the health “establishment”, its organization and management. And it has been an unprecedented learning opportunity as well. Through a sometimes brutal trial and error method, Covid has taught much to the global Health System, starting with new diagnose and action processes, and the pressing need to create partnerships among different social and institutional players with a focus on organizational aspects”. Tozzi turns to an effective metaphor to describe the Covid emergency: “a cooling magma”, a ground that can become extremely fertile. “The system has overcome an emergency it wasn’t prepared for, and has learnt a lot from it. Now it can transfer this knowledge onto other fields: think of multichannel actions where hospitals are just one in various resources”.

 

 

This model perfectly fits the treatment of neurologic diseases, such as Alzheimer, with their increasing need for early detection of symptoms, home treatment and supporting networks for patients and their families. This means guaranteeing quality treatments and access to the various services, continuing to invest in research for new drugs, while maintaining economic and financial sustainability.

 

This daunting challenge has been accepted by a community of over 150 people with different professional backgrounds – those who participate in the NeuroMLab project. They can give their multidisciplinary contribution to the research activity, and above all they can create the management and “cultural” alliance which is now essential to any effective therapeutic and care action.

 

SDA Bocconi School of Management

 

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