Columbia teams up with Deerfield for ‘transformative’ drug discovery collaboration

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By U2B Staff 

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Columbia University and healthcare venture capital Deerfield Management have teamed up to form a major research and development alliance with the aim of accelerating drug development and delivery.

Hudson Heights Innovations (HHI), as the alliance company is called, has been kicked off with an initial investment of US$130 million to be made available over the next 10 years. On top of funding, Deerfield will also provide development expertise in support of innovative drug research across a span of high-need therapeutic areas, as well as those targeting patients who suffer from hard-to-treat and rare diseases.

“Much of our research is aimed at understanding at the molecular level how diseases develop and how we can intervene with drugs or other therapeutics,” said Lee Goldman, MD, dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine and chief executive of Columbia University Irving Medical Centre.


“The goal of our alliance with Deerfield is to shepherd those discoveries into clinical development as rapidly as possible and create new therapies that improve the lives of patients.”

In practical terms, and starting this fall, the collaboration will allow Columbia researchers to submit proposals on projects for consideration by an HHI committee comprising scientific leadership representing both Columbia and Deerfield.

Accepted projects will include a development plan aimed at achieving readiness for filing an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Successful projects that achieve IND-enabled status may be eligible for additional capital from Deerfield.

Columbia has a long, proud history of turning theory and research into life-saving solutions. University researchers have created more than 400 scientific inventions, which progressed into over 200 new patent applications, over 100 licenses to industry and over 20 new intellectual property-backed startups. HHI hopes to build on this illustrious past.


“The life science inventions emerging from Columbia’s research labs are often incredibly promising, with a high potential for making a transformative impact on human health. However, basic scientific research needs validation in preclinical and clinical-stage development before it can make a difference in patients,” said Orin Herskowitz, executive director of Columbia Technology Ventures.

“Beyond the funding itself, the drug development, commercialization and operational expertise provided by Hudson Heights Innovations will hopefully ensure that more of these inventions make a positive impact in society, as quickly as possible.”