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Pfizer forms academic partnership network

Pfizer has entered into an $85m partnership with the University of California as part of a plan to implement the Global Centers for Therapeutic Innovation

Pfizer has entered into an $85m partnership with the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) as the first step of a large-scale plan to implement Global Centers for Therapeutic Innovation, a network of collaborations with leading academic medical centres designed to speed and improve the research and development process.

The network will be headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the US, and led by Anthony Coyle, who was formerly global head of respiratory, inflammation, and autoimmune research at AstraZeneca's MedImmune Biologics. Individual centres will be governed by Joint Steering Committees comprised of Pfizer staff and academic medical center representatives.

Pfizer said it will establish local centres at each partner site to facilitate the collaborations.  In addition to provided funding for preclinical and early clinical studies and research support, the company will for the first time offer its academic partners  access to its proprietary antibody libraries and research tools along with technical support across the development process. 

Access to the human antibody technology platforms could cut two to three years off the drug development timeline by preventing the obstacles that arise when translating research from animals to humans, according to the university.

Partnership agreements with the academic centers will be structured to give Pfizer's collaborators "equitable intellectual property and ownership rights" as well as extensive publication rights, which are often a bone of contention in traditional partnerships between companies and universities. The academic partners will also be entitled to milestone payments and royalties.

The network will start out focused in the US, but is expected to expand into Europe and Asia in 2012.

Pfizer said it selected UCSF as its first partner in the programme in part because of the university's strong focus on both basic science and clinical research.

The university will receive up to $85m in research support and milestone payments over the next five years if the partnership leads to the development of significant new products.

The collaboration, which could involve up to 10 projects at a time, will be governed by "clear guidelines to avoid conflicts of interest," according to the university.

17th November 2010

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