In the autumn 2021 Bernadette Mannaerts stepped into ReproUnion’s Executive Board with a passion for drug development and a weak spot for the Nordics.
“It has been a pleasure to welcome Bernadette to ReproUnion. With over 35 years in the reproductive medicine industry, she brings a wealth of experience to the partnership. Bernadette has already organised meetings for all our five challenge teams to discuss science with colleagues from different disciplines at Ferring. We truly appreciate her curiosity and effort to get to know all aspects of ReproUnion, which is contributing to an open and informal work environment and the continued success of our joint project,” says Jens Sønksen, interim Chairman of ReproUnion’s Executive Board.
Since 2013 Bernadette Mannaerts has been responsible for Ferring’s global clinical development of infertility treatments, which includes a personalised medicine approach to improve clinical outcome for patients undergoing controlled ovarian stimulation as part of their fertility treatment.
“I love bridging the pre-clinical research to the drug development and in that light ReproUnion is a world-class collaboration, which I am honoured to be part of. Bringing together basic researchers and physicians with the same research interest may translate into new ideas and leads for innovative drug development, which we embrace at Ferring to develop improved treatment options for patients,” says Bernadette Mannaerts, Senior Medical Research Director.
Bernadette cannot hide her fascination for human biology and reproduction, and she mentions how the most important publication she has authored is the book resulting from her PhD Thesis: “Innovative drug development and infertility therapy” (ISBN 978-90-393-5939-6). It was published in 2013 where Bernadette already had close ties to Scandinavia and Professors in ReproUnion.
“We all need to liaise with other experts to get the broader perspectives; I have always really enjoyed meeting Scandinavian experts and physicians. My research interactions with Claus Yding Andersen go more than 30 years back and have always been very constructive. In fact, he gave me the oocyte picture that is on my PhD thesis, which symbolizes the good spin-off when university and industry work together,” says Bernadette.
Before joining Ferring, Bernadette spent more than 25 years at legacy NV Organon. Towards the end of the 90’ies her research efforts culminated with the licensing and registration of GnRH antagonist ganirelix, and the GnRH antagonist protocol is currently the golden standard in IVF treatment.
“It had been a long journey, since the first generations failed because the molecules didn’t have the right properties. Finally, we succeeded with this third-generation antagonist and thereby introduced a new and more convenient treatment to the patients. Contrary to previous treatment regimens, the GnRH antagonist doesn’t require waiting time for down regulation of the hormones and therefore stimulation and treatment can start sooner,” explains Bernadette Mannaerts, who is now focused on individualised treatment regimens with Ferring’s recombinant FSH and hCG expressed by a human cell-line.