Major Duke-Deerfield research collaboration to drive drug development

SOURCE: Yasin Arıbuğa/Unsplash
Deerfield will provide development expertise to support Duke’s innovative drug research in high-need therapeutic areas.

By U2B Staff 

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Duke University and healthcare investment firm Deerfield Management Company have formed a ‘major translational research collaboration’ to accelerate the preclinical development of new drugs to cure rare diseases.

Spearheaded by Duke University’s Office of Licensing & Ventures (OLV), the research collaboration will see the formation of a new company called Four Points Innovation, with a US$130 million injection from Deerfield to back the initiative for 10 years.

“This is an exciting day for Duke and the patients we serve,” said Duke University School of Medicine and Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Dean Mary E. Klotman in a media release.

“This new partnership will help further Duke’s commitment to improve the lives of people in our own community and around the world by supporting and accelerating the translation of research into new therapies to treat and cure society’s most formidable healthcare challenges.”


Apart from financial backing, Deerfield will also provide development expertise to support Duke’s innovative drug research in high-need therapeutic areas, as well as those targeting patients who suffer from hard-to-treat diseases.

Four Points Innovation will be a private firm wholly owned by Deerfield affiliates and will support Duke R&D projects throughout preclinical stages of drug discovery and development.

From March 2020, Duke researchers will be able to submit project proposals to the firm, to be evaluated by a Four Points Innovation committee that will include scientific leadership representing both Duke and Deerfield. 

According to the release, the accepted proposals will include a development plan aimed at achieving Investigational New Drug (IND) readiness. Deerfield will fund the projects and provide operational support, and those that achieve IND-enabled status may be eligible for additional capital from the investment firm.

Also as part of terms of the agreement, Four Points Innovation would receive an option to license Four Points Innovation-funded intellectual property developed at Duke.


In 2018, Duke’s Office of Licensing and Ventures broke previous records with 354 invention disclosures, 120 agreements, and 32 exclusive agreements. Duke faculty and staff formed a total of 16 new startup companies throughout the year, bringing the university total to 140. 

“Duke University, with its vast research enterprise, world-class investigators and novel innovations, is a leader in biomedical discovery,” said Deerfield Management Managing Partner James E. Flynn said.

“We are excited about entering into this partnership with Duke, as we collectively seek to develop new medicines to save lives and address unmet medical needs.”

Duke is a private research university in Durham, North Carolina. The Duke School of Medicine is one of the nation’s leading centers for medical education, clinical care and biomedical research.