Columbia University, Deerfield Management Launch R&D Alliance

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Columbia University and Deerfield Management teamed up to form a major research and development alliance called Hudson Heights Innovations that will be backed by an initial investment of $130 million from Deerfield.

The new R&D company will aim to advance the translation of biomedical discoveries made at Columbia University into transformative treatments for improved quality of life and cures for disease. The $130 million investment from Deerfield will be made available over a 10-year period. In addition to the financing, Deerfield will provide development expertise in support of innovative drug research across a span of “high-need therapeutic areas,” as well as those targeting patients who suffer from hard-to-treat and rare diseases, the company announced today. What those high-need areas are, or which rare diseases the new alliance will begin to focus on were not disclosed in the announcement.

The Columbia University side of the partnership is being led by Columbia Technology Ventures. The alliance will catalyze the development of novel therapeutics coming out of the research labs at Columbia University and accelerate these discoveries toward clinical validation in patients, the new alliance said.

Lee Goldman, dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine and Chief Executive of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, said the research is aimed at “understanding at the molecular level how diseases develop and how we can intervene with drugs or other therapeutics.” Goldman added that the goal of the alliance with Deerfield is to “shepherd those discoveries into clinical development as rapidly as possible” in order to develop new therapies that can improve the lives of patients.

Orin Herskowitz, executive director of Columbia Technology Ventures, touted the work performed at Columbia University, which averages more than 400 scientific inventions each year. Many of these inventions turn into products that save and improve the lives of people across the globe. Herskowitz said the life science inventions that emerge from Columbia’s research facilities have a “high potential” for having a positive impact on the lives of people.

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“However, basic scientific research needs validation in preclinical and clinical-stage development before it can make a difference in patients," he said in a statement. “Beyond the funding itself, the drug development, commercialization and operational expertise provided by Hudson Heights Innovations will hopefully ensure that more of these inventions make a positive impact in society, as quickly as possible."

Beginning in the fall, Columbia researchers will be able to submit proposals for projects for consideration by a Hudson Heights Innovations committee. Accepted projects will include a development plan aimed at achieving readiness for filing an Investigational New Drug application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Successful projects that achieve IND-enabled status may be eligible for additional capital from Deerfield. 

“The Columbia investigators will have Deerfield's support to expedite the drug development cycle, which we expect will allow patients to receive treatments faster and physician-scientists more time to turn their attention to the next discovery,” James E. Flynn, managing partner at Deerfield said in a statement.

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