UCSF scores two R&D collaboration deals with sanofi-aventis

One focuses on oncology and the other focuses on "innoavative research" in multiple areas

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PARIS & SAN FRANSICSO—Jan. 13 saw the announcement that sanofi-aventis and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have formed two research and development collaborations that bring together leaders from academia and industry "to more rapidly advance groundbreaking innovation from the lab to the patient."

The first is an oncology partnership that will focus on project-based collaboration to accelerate the progression of research through the clinical proof of concept stage. The second collaboration promotes innovative research in pharmacological science and in multiple therapeutic areas, such as oncology, aging, diabetes and inflammation.

"As the largest public biomedical research institution in America, UCSF is dedicated to accelerating the translation of leading-edge research into state-of-the-art care for patients," says Dr. Susan Desmond-Hellmann, the chancellor of UCSF. "These collaborations will help support ground-breaking projects that could offer the greatest possibilities in each of these fields."

This marks the entry of sanofi-aventis as the first industry partner in UCSF's Program for Breakthrough Biomedical Research (PBBR).  The PBBR program is described as awarding funds to projects of potentially high impact, greater creativity and with an innovative approach to scientific discovery. The partnership with UCSF reportedly enhances sanofi-aventis' approach of setting up a unique structure revolving around networks of creativity spread across regions, technologies and scientific areas of excellence.

Under the terms of the agreement, a UCSF/sanofi-aventis joint steering committee will choose from among UCSF-generated proposals identified for their scientific excellence. Through this avenue, sanofi-aventis will fund up to five grants a year, with additional funds being available for students or fellows to conduct internships at sanofi-aventis for collaborative research efforts. To further this exchange of ideas, sanofi-aventis will fund an annual research forum that will bring together sanofi-aventis and UCSF researchers to share knowledge and perspectives on relevant scientific matters and to review progress of research projects funded through the collaboration.

"Joining forces with UCSF researchers emphasizes sanofi-aventis' commitment to establish strong relationships and collaborations with the best innovators in the world," says Christopher A. Viehbacher, CEO of sanofi-aventis. "By promoting open and deep scientific exchange between UCSF's leading researchers and sanofi-aventis' drug development experts, we aim to generate significant healthcare advances in multiple therapeutic areas, to discover and develop comprehensive healthcare solutions for patients."

Currently entering its 14th year, PBBR provided $42 million in these grants during its first decade alone, which now are credited with drawing more than $300 million in external follow-up funding, as well as generating 900 scientific papers, 30 filed patents, licensed technologies and three startup companies.

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