Pfizer and UCSF Form Alliance to Advance a Broad Range of Research
News Jun 12, 2008
In a novel experiment to advance new drug discovery and development, as well as stimulate basic research, Pfizer, Inc. and University of California, San Francisco have launched a collaboration that spans many disciplines, several UC campuses and multiple Pfizer research units.
The three year agreement, with research and other support up to $9.5 million, establishes a university team to help identify promising areas of mutual interest and facilitate project management. The effort already has templates in place to allow swift industry-university agreements.
The Pfizer-UCSF agreement will encourage collaborations between the company and UCSF’s unit of QB3, the multi-campus California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences, headquartered at UCSF.
The effort will be managed by QB3. All interested UCSF scientists will be eligible to participate, as will scientists at QB3’s two sister university campuses – UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz.
Corey Goodman, Ph.D., president of Pfizer’s Biotherapeutics and Bioinnovation Center (BBC), will lead the collaboration for the company. The BBC, a newly-formed division of Pfizer, is a small, entrepreneurial business unit created to build the technology platforms expected to deliver a steady pipeline of biotherapeutics and to stimulate such grassroots collaborations.
Goodman, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, is a former biotechnology company executive and a University of California research professor.
At QB3, Daniel Santi, Ph.D., UCSF professor of pharmaceutical chemistry and co-founder and former CEO of the biotech company Kosan, will manage the collaboration. QB3 involves 180 university scientists at the three UC campuses, collaborating on research with each other and, increasingly, with biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Its goals are to speed the translation of basic research discoveries into diagnostics, drugs and other treatments.
"The need to find better ways to bridge the gap between biomedical research and drug discovery could not be more acute,” Pfizer’s Goodman said. “The great discoveries from basic research must be better translated to develop new medicines for unmet medical needs."
“This new approach captures the best of both biotech and pharmaceutical worlds – and it benefits everyone: Pfizer, the university, patients and public health.”
QB3’s Santi will head up a UCSF team to identify promising collaborative projects and help facilitate projects, which he expects will greatly increase the probability of project success.
In traditional industry/academia collaborations, pharmaceutical companies engage university researchers by looking for a specific line of research that can aid their on-going projects, and the research is conducted solely by the university scientist, Santi explains. The new venture assembles teams of Pfizer and university scientists to work on projects, in health-related areas of mutual interest.
Recently, Pfizer and some other major pharmaceutical companies have created small, entrepreneurial arrangements with universities, but these generally focus on single promising fields, such as immunology.
In one planned project, UCSF and Pfizer scientists will perform collaborative research that can enable computational and structure-based approaches to develop monoclonal antibody-based therapeutics for important disease targets.