Active Cuban likes new role in cancer-drug venture

Updated: 2013-01-17 07:29

By Liu Jie (China Daily)

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My China Dream | Rolando Perez Rodriguez

On the day of the interview with Cuban scientist Rolando Perez Rodriguez in Beijing, the mercury dips to -13 C.

"Winter has its charm," says the vice-president and deputy general manager of Beijing-based Biotech Pharmaceutical Co Ltd. In his home country, Cuba, the average temperature throughout the year hovers around 25 C.

Having been in Beijing for about 20 months, the 51-year-old Cuban is now so familiar with the city that he is comfortable getting around by driving.

He drives for 1.5 hours from southern to northern Beijing for the interview.

"That's Rolando, he prefers to do everything himself and is interested in new things," says Miao Cuifang, Perez's assistant.

With 30 years of biopharmaceutical experience, the scientist took up his current position last April.

Biotech Pharmaceutical was set up in 2000 by a group of young Chinese entrepreneurs and it is the largest Sino-Cuban pharmaceutical joint venture with the Center of Molecular Immunology in Havana, the capital city of Cuba.

The company's leading product, a therapeutic antibody for cancer patients, is sold all over China.

As the former director of the Cuban research center, Perez had been leading the development of the drug since the very beginning and supervises its global clinical development.

Active Cuban likes new role in cancer-drug venture

From a scientist working in a lab in Cuba to a businessman in China, Perez admits that the transition has been challenging.

"Scientists tend to live in the future and they need inspiration to have innovative ideas. Businessmen need to foresee the future but be pragmatic," he says.

His scientific background has proven a plus, helping to close the research-development-production-market cycle.

As one of the 20 foreign experts invited to meet China's top political leader Xi Jinping on Dec 5, the Cuban scientist says he's impressed by Xi's closing speech about the role of innovation in the modernization of China and his interest in collaborating with other developing countries.

"I feel myself very close to these ideas expressed by General Secretary Xi Jinping. For a long time such ideas have been sustained by the Cuban Revolution," Perez says.

He says he believes China and Cuba have complementary models of development and hopes both countries could exchange useful experiences to foster economic and social development.

"China has been building a model that provides hope for the whole world, showing that the elimination of poverty and hunger is possible," says Perez, adding that China also has the challenge to demonstrate the feasibility of sustainable economic growth with increasing social justice.

During his free time, Perez and his wife take every chance to travel around China.

"So many different cities, different scenes and different people, and different food really attractive," says Perez, adding that he plans to visit the mysterious Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, soon.

Once a year, the couple would travel on vacation back home.

"I would say that sometimes I miss the sunshine, but living through the four seasons is also an experience," the Cuban scientist says.

(China Daily 01/17/2013 page18)