The next big thing is already happening 

[This article is from the Autumn/Winter 2018 issue of InTouch, your alumni magazine]

Dr Alberto Recordati (Biochemistry, 1977) is one of King’s most successful alumni working in the field of healthcare. He rose to Chairman of Recordati Pharmaceuticals in 2016, of which he successfully negotiated the sale in 2018. Here he shares his learnings in business and life.

London calling

‘London was quite a surprise. The whole experience helped me grow up. I came from a traditional family, and there I was, all alone in a cosmopolitan city in my early 20s. What struck me was how at King’s the students were the centre of attention. My experience taught me to plan ahead, not just for tomorrow, but for the long term too.’

On the family business

‘My grandfather started Recordati Pharmaceuticals nearly one hundred years ago. King’s gave me a solid scientific grounding, which stood me in good stead for my career with the family firm. I feel proud that I was able to contribute to my grandfather’s enterprise. At the time of its sale, the company sold its products in 135 countries and employed over 4,100 people.’

Dr Alberto Recordati

Why necessity is the mother of invention

‘Our treatment of rare diseases came with the acquisition of a company which produced treatments for very rare diseases. We had little expertise in the area but it was an interesting opportunity.

‘Lack of investment in treatments is why these are often referred to as ‘orphan diseases’. Pharmaceutical companies were not willing to ‘adopt’ them. Research is expensive and there’s no guarantee of a return. That’s why many governments are now incentivising companies to work in this field.’

Alone we can do so little – together we can do so much

‘There are thousands of rare diseases but only a few hundred approved treatments. The Recordati Group worked in partnership with hospitals and universities like King’s to develop treatments. It was very satisfying to put our resources at the disposal of these bright and involved scientists. Scientific advancement has enabled a whole new class of treatments to be developed. The next big thing is already happening!’

On giving back

‘As I look back, I realise that in my early life I was more focused on my work and career. Now that I have sold the business I am more focused on my family. My charitable activities have developed over the last ten years. I realise how lucky I have been and how much suffering there is in the world. You have to give back some of what you have receive.’
King’s and rare diseases

Find out more about giving back to King’s

Guy’s & St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, part of King’s Health Partners, opened a new Rare Diseases Centre in November 2017. It provides a space to treat adults and children with life-long genetic and skin conditions including epidermolysis bullosa, which makes skin fragile and prone to recurrent painful blisters and sores, and xeroderma pigmentosum, a disorder affecting patients’ ability to repair the damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) light, significantly increasing their risk of skin cancer and eye disease. The centre is the first of its kind in the UK and aims to transform care for rare conditions.