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Build it and they will come
October 2011
by Lloyd Dunlap  |  Email the author


KANNAPOLIS, N.C.—The David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) has formed a strategic alliance with Esoterix Clinical Trials Services, a division of Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings (LabCorp), to provide LabCorp's clients with access to enhanced assay development services. Assays developed at DHMRI for contracted research will be transferred to LabCorp laboratories worldwide to support global clinical studies. The agreement also provides a mechanism for downstream commercialization of companion diagnostics and other biomarker assays once clinical validation has been established.
Launched in 2009 after a six-year development program engineered by David H. Murdock, the institute differentiates itself by stating that DHMRI is a place "where research begins with an idea, not a sample," which is true to the way it was conceived and ultimately launched. Murdock, once broke and homeless on the streets of Detroit, rose meteorically via a number of real estate transactions—which make Warren Buffet's career seem humdrum—to rank 376th on Forbes Magazine's list of the world's billionaires. When Cannon Mills Plant #1 in Kannapolis closed—which resulted in the largest mass layoff in North Carolina history—Murdock bought the land, demolished the mill and built the 5.8 million square-foot North Carolina Research Campus, of which DHMRI is a part.

"DHMRI was created as a magnet or catalyst for NCRC," says the institute's CEO, Dr. Michael Luther. "The institute bridges the research gap between academics and industry by providing R&D solutions in a customer-focused, yet collaborative environment. The DHMRI catalyzes innovation at the public-private interface by driving and supporting R&D efforts with partners who are located both on and off campus. We work as a non-traditional CRO providing answers from the bench to proof of principle."

The universities on campus include UNC Chapel Hill, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, North Carolina State and Duke University. Among the affiliated companies are Murdock interests Castle and Cooke and Dole Foods—and its new partner LabCorp.

In addition to biomarker assay development, DHMRI provides a broad array of analytical, genomic, immunology and informatics services. The services available to clients through DHMRI include broad biomarker discovery and proof-of-concept assay development to support early- and late-stage drug discovery and development. The institute uses transdisciplinary approaches to provide solutions for customers. Its capabilities and expertise range from profiling at the genetic, biochemical, cellular and in-vivo levels to clinical immune system monitoring using multiparameter flow cytometry and multiplexed protein analysis and quantitative gene expression. With the acquisition of the Immune Tolerance Institute, DHMRI is now supporting numerous clinical trials of immunomodulatory approaches with advanced flow cytometry, immunoassay and gene expression methods across a range of immune-related diseases.

"With the addition of DHMRI's discovery capabilities, LabCorp offers its clinical trials clients the most complete suite of biomarker development tools in the industry," says Dr. David Johnston, senior vice president and global head of clinical trials at LabCorp. "Our collaboration with DHMRI exemplifies our strong commitment to providing cutting-edge services to our clients."

LabCorp's core business provides a broad test menu ranging from routine blood analyses to reproductive genetics to DNA sequencing. The company conducts clinical trials testing through its Esoterix Clinical Trials Services division.
Code: E101129



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