Deerfield Plunks Down $100 Million to Support R&D Alliance With Harvard University

doctor shaking hands with businessman with stethoscope on table

Healthcare investment firm Deerfield Management forged a research and development agreement with Harvard University to speed the development and translation of biomedical and life-science innovations into transformative treatments for patients.

Deerfield provided $100 million in initial funding for the endeavor to support the alliance between the university and a newly-formed company, Lab1636. The partnership will be helmed by Harvard’s Office of Technology Development. In the announcement, Deerfield said the alliance is expected to catalyze the development of novel therapeutics and rapidly drive innovations toward clinical validation. Lab1636, which is wholly-owned by Deerfield, 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’s R&D projects to be funded by Lab1636 will be selected by a joint advisory committee. The projects will be initiated by principal investigators from various 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, Deerfield said.

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In its announcement, Deerfield pointed out that many commercially promising innovations tend to outgrow the capabilities at the university. Those research projects require greater resources or a more focused development than the university 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, Deerfield said.

James E. Flynn, managing partner of Deerfield, said Harvard makes the ideal partner for this alliance. Flynn noted that the venerable academic institution has “outstanding science, breadth of technologies, and mix of esteemed junior and senior faculty constitute a fertile environment for the continuous generation of novel insights.” Those factors, as well as the university’s track record in advancing potential therapeutics makes it the perfect partner, Flynn said in a brief statement.

“The sheer scope of this collaboration with Deerfield may prove transformative for Harvard research,” Vivian Berlin, managing director of strategic partnerships in OTD said. “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.”

Isaac T. Kohlberg, chief technology development officer at Harvard, said the alliance between the school and Deerfield will enhance opportunities for Harvard’s life-changing innovations to reach patients in need.

“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,” Kohlberg said. “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.”

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