Pfizer shines in Big Apple

Drugmaker announces that seven of New York City’s top research hospitals join Global Centers For Therapeutic Innovation

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NEW YORK—In an effort designed to leverage its investment in discovery and early-stage drug development by funding preclinical and clinical development at leading centers, Pfizer Inc. recently announced that seven major research-based medical centers here have joined its Centers for Therapeutic Innovation, a network of partnerships that aims to speed the translation of biomedical research into life-saving medicines.

Centers joining the fold include Rockefeller University, New York University Langone Medical Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, the Mount Sinai Medical Center, Columbia University Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Weill Cornell Medical College.

Additionally, Pfizer has signed a lease at the Alexandria Center for Life Science, providing the company with research space to facilitate its New York City-based collaborations.

The Alexandria Center is home to a number of top-tier research organizations and leading life-science entities. Its office and laboratory space encourages collaboration and is ideally located to facilitate close working relationships between Pfizer and its academic partners.

The Centers for Therapeutic Innovation will initially focus on collaborations within the U.S. and build the network at other U.S.-based medical institutions and is expected to expand into Europe and Asia in 2012. Each center will be governed by a joint steering committee composed of Pfizer and academic medical center representatives who will provide leadership and evaluate the success of each program through discovery and early-stage clinical development.

"New York City is home to a wealth of world-class biotechnology resources, including academic medical centers that have been on the leading edge of translational research—making it an ideal place to establish partnerships for our Centers for Therapeutic Innovation," says Anthony Coyle, head of the Pfizer effort. "Success and advancements occur when the best minds are working in unison, and the Alexandria Center's prime location and world-class lab space will serve as the perfect location to house this new partnership."

According to Coyle, the New York partners were selected based on their leadership in biomedical research combined with their ability to bring this research into a clinic setting.
"The breadth of their research capabilities also ensures that they can help to deliver on our ambitious project goals," Coyle says. "Pfizer is looking forward to collaborating with leading principal investigators and their postdoctoral candidates, who understand the deep science of disease and how novel mechanisms can be applied to meet patients' needs."

Pfizer's goal in establishing the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation is to create long-term working partnerships with academic medical centers that will bridge the gap between scientific discovery and the delivery of promising candidates into the pipeline.

"It will align scientific and clinical experts from these research hospitals with Pfizer's world-class scientists to discover and co-develop next-generation medicines by sharing drug development capabilities and resources to speed the translation of innovative science into medicines for patients, and increase productivity while lowering cost," Coyle adds.

"We are very pleased to join Pfizer's Centers for Therapeutic Innovation program, which will provide resources to Rockefeller investigators to facilitate translating their scientific discoveries into biologic agents that improve human health," notes Barry S. Coller, physician-in-chief of the Rockefeller University Hospital.

Under terms of the agreement, Pfizer will support the research conducted through CTI programs in exchange for the opportunity to exercise options to obtain exclusive licenses to commercialize the compounds that are developed.  

"CTI partners receive equitable IP and ownership rights to support continued experimentation and exploration in addition to the broad rights to publication," according to Coyle. "If Pfizer elects to exercise options, the AMC will retain a non-exclusive license for internal research purposes."

If Pfizer does not exercise an option to commercialize, each AMC and principal investigator has an opportunity to pursue the research independently and capture further value from the program.

Investigators will have access to Pfizer's proprietary antibody libraries and advanced research tools along with technical support. Successful programs that advance to commercialization by Pfizer will be subject to license terms, which will include milestone payments and royalties.

The New York center is a completely new project for Pfizer, though the company opened its first Center for Therapeutic Innovation in November at the University of California, San Francisco.

"External scientific opportunities like the Centers for Therapeutic Innovation will complement the ongoing discovery and development efforts of Pfizer's internal research units. Projects generated through this program have the potential to provide Pfizer with additional pipeline projects to pursue in the future, which will help get better medicines more quickly to the patients who need them," Coyle says.

Coyle says the goal is the have the New York center up and running by the middle of 2011.

The announced launch of the New York-based Centers For Therapeutic Innovation has been met with a positive reaction in the crossroads of America. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said in a statement that the announcement "is an exciting day for New York. Pfizer's partnership with many of our great medical research universities will accelerate the process of developing and bringing to market new life-saving medicines and therapies. This is a model for collaboration that will enhance New York's status as a global center of the life sciences industry."

"Pfizer's decision to bring its Centers for Therapeutic Innovation program to New York City is the latest affirmation of the city's excellence in biomedical research and prominence as a center for innovation," New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg adds in a statement. "Pfizer has called New York City home for more than 160 years, and its presence at the state-of-the-art Alexandria Center for Life Science, together with its new partnerships with some of the city's top academic medical centers, will help keep it at the forefront of discovery."

Kathryn Wylde, president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, notes that "Pfizer's investment in this partnership with the city's premiere research universities is an important step toward establishing New York as the world leader in the clinical application of biomedical research, with major long-term benefits for our economy."

Nathan Tinker, executive director of the New York Biotechnology Association (NYBA), says the announcement is further proof of New York's preeminent standing as a global center for life science research, development and commercialization.

"While there are already dozens of therapeutic products on the market that were discovered in New York's universities and research companies, the Center for Therapeutic Innovation will offer a new, robust opportunity for New York's leading science to make its way to patients around the world," he says. "At NYBA, we say that 'The Cures Start Here because the Science Starts Here,' and Pfizer's choice to build its Center for Therapeutic Innovation at the Alexandria Center for Life Sciences in New York City is proof of this."

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