COLLABORATION

Harvard, Deerfield forge $100m alliance to drive biomedical innovations

SOURCE: Michael Schiffer on Unsplash
Harvard University's strategic alliance with Deerfield will increase speed-to-market of life-saving biomedical and life science treatments.

Harvard University and healthcare investment firm Deerfield Management are partnering up to accelerate development and speed-to-market of new and transformative biomedical and life science treatments.

Through its newly-launched company Lab1636, Deerfield will inject an unprecedented US$100 million to support the research & development (R&D) alliance. The alliance to be led by the Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD) is expected to catalyse the development of novel therapeutics and drive it toward clinical validation.

“We envision the Harvard-Deerfield collaboration as a powerful means to fuel translational research across the university, enabling promising innovations to advance beyond their laboratory roots,” said Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber.

Lab1636 will support Harvard’s R&D projects throughout the stages of drug discovery and development. Among others, it will enable studies to explicate the biology of disease, validate therapeutic targets, or achieve a proof-of-concept necessary for filing an Investigational New Drug (IND) application. If successful, this would lead to the commencement of clinical trials in patients.

According to Deerfield, the projects to be funded will be selected by a joint advisory committee and will be initiated by principal investigators from labs across the Ivy League institution.

“By working with an alliance partner who is prepared to support early-stage research and to invest in the success of pre-clinical and clinical-stage commercial development, we’re enhancing the opportunities for Harvard’s life-changing innovations to reach patients in need,” added Isaac T. Kohlberg, Senior Associate Provost and Chief Technology Development Officer at Harvard.

“Success in a research alliance requires a partner with a long vision and operational and development expertise, as well as the financial resources, and we’re delighted to launch this initiative with Deerfield.”

Research alliances like this one are crucial for the advancement and commercialisation of new and novel developments in medical fields to ensure they realise their full potential for societal impact.

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Commenting, Deerfield Managing Partner James E. Flynn labelled Harvard an “outstanding partner” for the alliance, thanks to its faculty’s track record and research experience in medical science technologies.

“The university’s outstanding science, breadth of technologies and mix of esteemed junior and senior faculty constitute a fertile environment for the continuous generation of novel insights.

“This, in combination with its experience advancing potential therapeutics, makes it the perfect place to establish an impactful translational partnership.”

Apart from funding on-campus research, Deerfield said Lab1636 may also facilitate licensing to outside companies. The newly-formed company is able to provide support to the launch and growth of new startups dedicated to developing Harvard technologies.

Harvard OTD’s Managing Director for strategic partnerships Vivian Berlin said the alliance could prove transformative for Harvard research.

“This alliance has immense potential to bridge the development gap, ensure continuity of resources, and complement our other major translational programs, such as the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator.”

Through an integrated approach of corporate alliances and sponsored research, Harvard’s OTD promotes public good by fostering innovation and translating new Harvard inventions into products that would benefit society. Across the past five years, more than 70 startups have launched to commercialise Harvard technologies, raising over a billion dollars in financing.