AbbVie and Rice University establish K.C. Nicolaou Research Accelerator to advance therapies in oncology

NORTH CHICAGO, Ill. and HOUSTON, April 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- AbbVie, a research-based global biopharmaceutical company, and Rice University today announced they have entered into a joint research collaboration to establish the K.C. Nicolaou Research Accelerator. The research at the Accelerator will focus on synthesizing novel cytotoxic agents for use in the fight against cancer. The collaboration will complement AbbVie's existing expertise in oncology discovery and early development.

The K.C. Nicolaou laboratory has unique expertise in the art of replicating complex natural molecules that have cancer-fighting properties. The process, called total synthesis, allows researchers to apply organic chemistry strategies and technologies to optimize anti-tumor agents. When combined with AbbVie's medicinal chemistry and antibody engineering capabilities, these anti-tumor agents have the potential to transform cancer treatment paradigms and significantly benefit patients.

"Dr. Nicolaou and his team at Rice University are conducting world-class research in organic chemistry that has the potential to aid in the development of new and effective cancer therapies for patients," said Tom Hudson, M.D., vice president, oncology discovery and early development, AbbVie. "Our goal is to transform the way cancer is treated and we look forward to aligning our development capabilities with the team's expertise in chemistry to better address patient needs."

Dr. Nicolaou, the Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor of Chemistry at Rice University, will lead the Accelerator's research team at Rice. He is globally renowned for his research on total organic synthesis. He achieved the first total synthesis of the widely used chemotherapy agent paclitaxel (trade name Taxol®), along with multiple other complex molecules. Dr. Nicolaou has received numerous prestigious awards, including the Wolf Prize in Chemistry in 2016 for advancing the field of chemical synthesis to the extremes of molecular complexity and expanding the interface among chemistry, biology and medicine.

"The K.C. Nicolaou Research Accelerator is a new model for university-industry collaboration," said Yousif Shamoo, vice provost for research at Rice University. "It is a true partnership between AbbVie and Rice scientists to conduct the highest-quality cutting-edge research and development in cancer therapeutics. Rice is moving away from more transactional relations with industry and replacing them with an integrative and deeper collaborative structure that we think will produce better outcomes for industry as well as better research and knowledge creation for the University."

"Collaborations like this one afford exciting opportunities for the commercialization of Rice research," said Asha Rajagopal, director of technology transfer at Rice University. "University-industry partnerships can marry academic exploration to market need and help streamline the translation of academic results into products with commercial impact. Such partnerships help foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation in the university community."

Taxol® is a registered trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company

A photo of Nicolaou is available at the link below.
Cutline: K.C. Nicolaou (Credit: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University)

About AbbVie:

AbbVie is a global, research-driven biopharmaceutical company committed to developing innovative advanced therapies for some of the world's most complex and critical conditions. The company's mission is to use its expertise, dedicated people and unique approach to innovation to markedly improve treatments across four primary therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, virology and neuroscience. In more than 75 countries, AbbVie employees are working every day to advance health solutions for people around the world. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at Follow @abbvie on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

About Rice University:

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,970 undergraduates and 2,934 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for quality of life and for lots of race/class interaction and No. 2 for happiest students by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.



CONTACT: AbbVie media contact: Adelle Infante,, 1-847-9388745; Rice University media contact: B.J. Almond, 713-348-6770,

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