Harvard University and Deerfield Management, a health care investment firm, have established a major strategic R&D alliance to speed the development and translation of biomedical and life-science innovations into transformative treatments that can improve life, health, and medical care. Through a newly launched company called Lab1636, Deerfield has committed $100 million in initial funding to support the alliance.
Spearheaded by the Harvard Office of Technology Development (OTD), the alliance is expected to catalyze the development of novel therapeutics and rapidly drive innovations toward clinical validation.
“We envision the Harvard-Deerfield collaboration as a powerful means to fuel translational research across the University, enabling promising innovations to advance beyond their laboratory roots,” said Harvard Provost Alan M. Garber.
“By working with an alliance partner who is prepared to support early stage research and to invest in the success of preclinical and clinical-stage commercial development, we’re enhancing the opportunities for Harvard’s life-changing innovations to reach patients in need,” added Isaac T. Kohlberg, senior associate provost and chief technology development officer at Harvard. “Success in a research alliance requires a partner with a long vision and operational and development expertise, as well as the financial resources, and we’re delighted to launch this initiative with Deerfield.”
A private company wholly owned by affiliates of Deerfield, Lab1636 will support Harvard R&D projects throughout various stages of drug discovery and development, for example enabling studies to explicate the biology of disease, validate therapeutic targets, or achieve a proof of concept necessary for filing an Investigational New Drug (IND) application.
“Harvard is an outstanding partner for an alliance,” said James E. Flynn, managing partner at Deerfield. “The University’s outstanding science, breadth of technologies, and mix of esteemed junior and senior faculty constitute a fertile environment for the continuous generation of novel insights. This, in combination with its experience advancing potential therapeutics, makes it the perfect place to establish an impactful translational partnership.”
At any research university, the most commercially promising innovations eventually outgrow the lab bench, requiring greater resources or more focused development than an academic setting can provide. In addition to funding research on campus, Lab1636 may facilitate licenses to outside companies and is equipped to provide substantial support to the launch and growth of new startups dedicated to developing Harvard technologies.
“The sheer scope of this collaboration with Deerfield may prove transformative for Harvard research,” said Vivian Berlin, managing director of strategic partnerships in OTD. “This alliance has immense potential to bridge the development gap, ensure continuity of resources, and complement our other major translational programs, such as the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator.”
Kohlberg added, “We hope that our R&D alliance with Deerfield will further sustain and speed the commercialization of innovations from across the University toward societal impact.”
Harvard’s R&D projects to be funded by Lab1636 will be selected by a joint advisory committee, and the projects will be initiated by principal investigators from labs across the University. The projects will generally focus on the development of novel therapeutics, ideally advancing many to a stage that would enable the filing of an IND application and, if successful, the commencement of clinical trials in patients.