Pfizer partners with UC San Diego in five-year deal worth as much as $50 million

Partnership includes dedicated lab space at Pfizer’s La Jolla research and development campus for scientists from Pfizer and UC San Diego Health Sciences to work closely together

Jeffrey Bouley
NEW YORK—In a deal worth as much as $50 million over thenext five years, Pfizer Inc. this week partnered with University ofCalifornia, San Diego Health Sciences through the company's Centers forTherapeutic Innovation (CTI), a network of collaborative partnershipswith notable life-science research institutions in California,Massachusetts and New York that aims to accelerate and transform drugdiscovery and development.
 
The potential $50 million sum is a total of the estimated support forresearch programs and potential milestone payments to UC San DiegoHealth Sciences for successful projects. The partnership includesdedicated lab space at Pfizer's La Jolla research and development campusfor scientists from Pfizer and UC San Diego Health Sciences to workclosely together.
 
Pfizer established its first CTI in California in November 2010 througha partnership with the University of California, San Francisco. Pfizerwill now expand its CTI West Coast presence to southern Californiathrough a collaboration with UC San Diego Health Sciences.
 
"The collaborative partnerships formed through the Centers forTherapeutic Innovation between Pfizer and academic medical centers allowleading medical and clinical experts to join with Pfizer'shighly-skilled scientists and advanced drug development capabilities tospeed the translation of innovative science into medicines forpatients," says Dr. Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, senior vice presidentand head of BioTherapeutics Research and Development for Pfizer. "Ourultimate goal is to bridge the gap between scientific discovery and thedelivery of promising candidates to the pipeline."
 
According to Pfizer,CTI differs from other open innovation programs because of its "unique,non-traditional business model that is based on true collaboration,co-location and transparency, with generous incentives to itsparticipants."
 
What that means in more practical terms, apparently, is that Pfizer is getting around some of the traditional uncertainty inherent in funding academic efforts that have potential but often fizzle by funding drug candidatesonly after a panel of experts has signed off on them. While those experts cannot, of course, predict if a drug candidate will success, they will "verify" that there is strong potential to move intohuman testing and eventually become a marketable treatment before Pfizer throws significant investments into them. The membership of the panel will reportedly be split evenly between Pfizer people and UC San Diego personnel.
 
As part of the CTI program, Pfizer will provide access tosome of its antibody libraries and technologies, as well as dedicatedresources and support from Pfizer's experts in drug development andprotein sciences.
 
Additionally, Pfizer will provide funding to support the preclinicaland clinical development of sponsored programs, offer CTI partnersequitable intellectual property rights, and grant milestone payments androyalties related to the advancement of drug candidates.
 
"Public-private partnerships are increasingly important in scientificresearch, especially in an era of decreasing federal grant support whenresources are needed to commercialize innovations related to healthcare," says Dr. Gary Firestein, dean and associate vice chancellor ofTranslational Medicine and director of the Clinical and TranslationalResearch Institute at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. The UC SanDiego-Pfizer agreement is an example of how we can work together andwill hopefully serve as a model for other collaborations with industry."
 
"We believe the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation are anindustry-leading model of collaboration and innovation," adds Dr. Anthony J.Coyle, vice president and chief scientific officer, PfizerCenters for Therapeutic Innovation. "UC San Diego Health Sciences, withits wealth of scientific and medical expertise, is an outstandingacademic medical institution that Pfizer is excited to partner with todevelop the next generation of medicines."
 
Under the terms of the agreement, Pfizer has the right to take anydrug funded through the center into late-stage clinical testing,regulatory review and commercialization. Should Pfizer turn down such opportunities, those drugs could be licensed by UCSD to other drug companies or used as the basis to spin out a start-up company.
 

Jeffrey Bouley

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