Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute, Inc. Expands Partnership with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd.


Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), The Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medicine today announced that they will expand the focus of the successful Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute, Inc. (Tri-I TDI), a partnership established in 2013 to expedite early-stage drug discovery of innovative new therapies. Under this expansion, Tri-I TDI will extend its current relationship with its industry partner, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd. from the realm of small molecule discovery into the new research area of antibody drug discovery. All three institutions will benefit from Tri-I TDI’s expansion.

“We are thrilled at the prospect of growing our strong Tri-I TDI partnership, where we continue to tackle important health questions and improve drug development efficiency. Through our current work, we’ve established a streamlined process to apply our breakthrough research into clinical application and look forward to adding antibody knowledge into our expanding range of capabilities” said Dr. Augustine Choi, interim dean of Weill Cornell Medicine.

“TDI has already had an important impact by providing an opportunity for our scientists, and those of our collaborating institutions, to develop small molecules that might lead to new drugs,” said Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of The Rockefeller University. “With the addition of its antibody program, TDI will go even further, jumpstarting the development of an additional type of therapy for poorly treated diseases.”

“What began as a novel partnership between academia and industry has now become a powerful voice in medical research,” said Memorial Sloan Kettering President and CEO Dr. Craig B. Thompson. “Our collaboration has provided more efficient paths to translate laboratory discoveries into bedside treatments that lead to improved patient care and well being.  This partnership is a great example of how collaboration and open partnerships are the future of medical research.” 

“As we look ahead to what’s next, beyond small molecule drug discovery, this flagship collaboration will continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in medical research,” said Andrew Plump, Takeda’s chief medical and scientific officer. “We at Takeda understand the value of, and connection between, innovation and external collaboration. This is why we are so pleased to continue our relationship with the Tri-I TDI and help expand its mission to move toward novel research frontiers such as antibody drug discovery.”

Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute

The independent nonprofit Tri-I TDI was launched in 2013, and has its own scientific advisory board and board of directors. The Tri-I TDI is located on the top floor of the new, state-of-the-art Belfer Research Building at Weill Cornell Medicine, and the new antibody facilities are housed in the Zuckerman Research Center at MSK. Tri-I TDI was established to bridge the gap between groundbreaking early-stage academic research discoveries and the development of new diagnostic or therapeutic agents. Tri-I TDI supports translational research across the Tri-I community by leveraging the expertise of all three academic institutions and its industry partner, Takeda.

The organization’s initial and continuing goals are to foster discovery and translational research, to provide high-quality educational opportunities to all members of the Tri-I community, and to deepen faculty involvement in drug discovery. In the context of its expanding partnership with Takeda, Tri-I TDI will explore new areas where it can provide value to patients. As innovation and technology take center stage in the conversation around the future of healthcare, the new antibody drug discovery initiative – which many consider a frontier in the health industry – is a clear and inspiring direction in which to take the institute.

As Tri-I TDI’s sole industry partner, Takeda contributes a team of experienced chemists and pharmacologists, along with a wealth of institutional knowledge and best practices gained from its position as an established industry leader in the pharmaceutical sector.

Philanthropy is helping to drive discoveries at the Tri-I TDI. The three institutions received an initial $15 million gift from Lewis and Ali Sanders to launch the Tri-I TDI and, recently, a second $15 million gift from the couple to grow its mission. The institute is also funded through direct contributions from MSK, The Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medicine. An important aspect of the institute continues to be the Sanders Innovation and Education Initiative, which lends organizational infrastructure, project management, director salary support, education for a new generation of drug discovery scientists, and in-lab support of faculty to drive the institute’s innovative mission.