As Pfizer And UCSF Tighten Ties, More Deals With Academia Could Follow
Pfizer's latest pledge to academic research, a five-year $85 million agreement to fund projects at the University of California, San Francisco, is a sign of the increased importance of deals between pharmas and universities, which give commercial partners access to new research earlier in the development process while nudging academics toward projects with commercial relevance in mind.
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Ex-Genentech executive Susan Desmond-Hellman soon will leave her position as UCSF chancellor to become CEO of the Gates Foundation. Her move signals the foundation’s ambition to lead in the science and the financing of neglected and tropical diseases, as well as in the global alliances that enable both.
Novartis’ deal with the University of Pennsylvania around cancer immunotherapies based on chimeric antigen receptor technologies developed in the lab of Penn’s Carl June comes at an opportune time. The Big Pharma is fighting to preserve its number two ranking in oncology and Penn’s high-profile, albeit much smaller, alliance with AstraZeneca in neurodegenerative disease is winding down.
With a metabolic-disease deal with Takeda Pharmaceuticals already under its belt, Sanford Burnham aims to extend its academic prowess to more business-oriented opportunities. Chief Business Officer Paul Laikind, PhD, aims to inject entrepreneural blood into Sanford-Burnham's scientific muscle.