Pioneering Collaboration with Research-Based Global Pharmaceutical Company to Conduct Early-Stage Drug Discovery
New Powerhouse for Therapeutic Research Founded with $20 Million in Generous Support from Lewis Sanders and Howard Milstein
Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, The Rockefeller University and Weill Cornell Medical College announced today that they have formed the pioneering Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute, Inc. (Tri-I TDI) and have partnered with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd. (TSE:4502). This new, groundbreaking institute, designed to expedite early-stage drug discovery into innovative treatments and therapies for patients, was founded thanks to a generous $15 million gift by Lewis and Ali Sanders and a $5 million gift from Howard and Abby Milstein.
The Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute represents a novel partnership of academic institutions working together to more effectively develop therapeutics that arise from discoveries made in basic science labs. Its focus is on the early stages of developing compounds that make possible all-important “proof of concept” studies – those that increase the likelihood that targeting a specific biologic pathway can favorably alter the course of a disease.
Furthermore, the institute’s partnership with Takeda, a global research-based pharmaceutical company with a strong record of bringing new medicines to market, will benefit drug discovery work at all three institutions.
“We are excited to help contribute to solving an important societal problem: how to improve the efficiency of drug development. The process is currently fragmented, with many wasteful steps, on top of the structural, intellectual and funding barriers that have made it so difficult to translate basic research into clinical application,” said Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. “With academia and industry working together closely, guiding each other in the laboratory, we have a better chance to translate research discoveries into lasting medical contributions and to do so with far greater efficiency. We are privileged to have Takeda, a proven leader in pharmaceutical development, join with us at this momentous occasion, as the Tri-I TDI begins its work speeding discoveries to the bedside. We thank Takeda for its forward-thinking vision, and applaud Mr. Sanders and Mr. Milstein for their commitment to drive innovation and discovery with their generous support.”
“This institute will greatly enhance the ability of basic science labs at the three institutions to translate their discoveries into new medicines,” said Dr. Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of The Rockefeller University. “This exciting collaboration between academic institutions will also serve as a link between institutional researchers and industry experts in medicinal chemistry, compound screening and drug development. It’s a partnership that will help lower barriers in the drug discovery process and ultimately lead to new therapies for some of our most difficult and deadly diseases.”
“This unique research collaboration will promote greater efficiency in translating our best ideas about the development of new drugs into treatments for a variety of diseases, including cancer,” said Memorial Sloan Kettering President and CEO Dr. Craig B. Thompson. “It provides an exciting new model for academic-industrial collaboration, one that will allow us to get innovative therapies to patients quickly and economically.”
“Drug discovery is a remarkably complex undertaking that constantly pushes at the frontiers of science,” said Dr. Tadataka Yamada, Takeda’s director and chief medical and scientific officer. “At Takeda, we believe that the greatest successes result from partnership, and this collaboration sets a new standard. This industry-academic partnership will combine the spirit of innovation in academia with the resources and talents of industry, and we are confident it will lead to remarkable new insights.”
Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute
The independent, nonprofit institute, which will have its own scientific advisory board and board of directors, will build a strong bridge between early-stage research discoveries and the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic agents for myriad health challenges, reflecting the diverse interests of the member institutions’ faculty. Projects that will be tackled could range from addressing the developing world’s most deadly diseases — tuberculosis and malaria among them — to Alzheimer’s, cancer, HIV, heart disease and obesity, to neglected or “orphan” diseases that afflict small numbers of people. The institute will select research projects that hold the greatest scientific promise and present the most innovative hypotheses. Each scientist’s home institution will retain its intellectual property. The institute will locate its medicinal chemistry activities on the top floor of the new, state-of-the-art Belfer Research Building at Weill Cornell, slated to open in January.
The goal of this innovative collaboration is to enhance both discovery and translational research while also providing high-quality opportunities for training students and post-doctoral fellows, deepening faculty involvement in drug discovery, and supporting translational research by leveraging the expertise of all three academic institutions and Takeda. As the number of new treatments for illnesses that make it to market each year has remained largely flat and at low levels, the Tri-I TDI will pool institutional resources to facilitate the translation of research results — initially in small chemical molecules (the precursor of drugs), and later with biological therapies and molecular imaging— into the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic agents.
The institute will seek to create intellectual property that can be further developed by an open field of industry collaborators. It also will facilitate more efficient sharing of institutional core facilities while continuing to form industry partnerships with various pharmaceutical companies to further advance research investigations.
The partnership with Takeda is focused on developing small chemical molecules. In an unusual arrangement, medicinal chemists and pharmacologists from Takeda will bring their private sector experience to the academic setting by helping to conduct drug discovery research in the institute’s laboratories. Takeda is a research-based global company with its main focus on pharmaceuticals and a world leader in drug development and manufacturing. Candidate drugs may be licensed out to complete the later steps of drug development, such as manufacturing and the conduct of clinical trials. Trials may occasionally be run at the three institutions’ clinical and translational science centers and clinical trial offices. The institute is funded through philanthropy and direct contributions from MSKCC, Rockefeller and Weill Cornell.
A cornerstone of the new institute is the Sanders Innovation and Education Initiative. The initiative provides organizational infrastructure, project management, director salary support, education for a new generation of drug discoverers, and in-lab support of faculty to drive their discoveries and innovations. In addition, it will support the recruitment of the soon-to-be named Sanders Director of the Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute.
“This is a powerful approach to create synergies collectively with three institutions and partners in industry,” Mr. Sanders said. “I am gratified to be able to support such a novel initiative that will truly make a difference in scientific research and people’s lives. It’s time in academia to make the giant leap to fill the gap in drug discovery by maximizing collaboration between institutions and the pharmaceutical industry.”
A crucial feature of the new institute is the Abby and Howard P. Milstein Program in Medicinal Chemistry. The program will support the recruitment of medicinal chemists, computational chemists and molecular modelers with private-sector experience who will apply their particular expertise to develop promising discoveries made at the bench to the point where pharmaceutical companies will see a high prospect of success in adopting projects and taking them through the later stages of drug development. The Milstein program builds upon the strong foundation of drug-discovery initiatives already established in 2005 with the founding of the Abby and Howard P. Milstein Chemistry Core Facility and the Abby and Howard P. Milstein Program in Chemical Biology of Infectious Disease at Weill Cornell.
“These three academic medical institutions are on the forefront of a new paradigm in medical research which partners academia, industry and philanthropy to accelerate the discovery of new cures and improve the economics of drug development,” Mr. Milstein said. “Becoming a leader in drug discovery is central to their missions to find cures for today’s greatest health crises. Bridging the critical gap between the laboratory bench and the patient’s bedside, this initiative is designed to improve and save the lives of millions throughout our nation and the world.”
About The Rockefeller University
Founded by John D. Rockefeller in 1901, The Rockefeller University was this nation’s first biomedical research institution. Hallmarks of the university include a research environment that provides scientists with the support they need to do imaginative science and a truly international graduate program that is unmatched for the freedom and resources it provides students to develop their capacities for innovative research. The Rockefeller University Hospital, founded in 1910 as the first center for clinical research in the United States, remains a place where researchers combine laboratory investigations with bedside observations to provide a scientific basis for disease detection, prevention and treatment. Since the institution’s founding, Rockefeller University has been the site of many important scientific breakthroughs. Rockefeller scientists, for example, established that DNA is the chemical basis of heredity, identified the weight-regulating hormone leptin, discovered blood groups, showed that viruses can cause cancer, founded the modern field of cell biology, worked out the structure of antibodies, devised the AIDS “cocktail” drug therapy, and developed methadone maintenance for people addicted to heroin. Throughout Rockefeller’s history, 24 scientists associated with the university have received the Nobel Prize in physiology/medicine and chemistry, and 21 scientists associated with the university have been honored with the Albert Lasker Medical Research Award. Five Rockefeller University scientists have been named MacArthur Foundation Fellows, and 20 have garnered the National Medal of Science. Currently, the university’s award-winning faculty includes five Nobel laureates, seven Lasker Award winners and three recipients of the National Medal of Science. Thirty-four of the faculty are elected members of the National Academy of Sciences. For more information, go to www.rockefeller.edu.
About Weill Cornell Medical College
Weill Cornell Medical College, Cornell University’s medical school located in New York City, is committed to excellence in research, teaching, patient care and the advancement of the art and science of medicine, locally, nationally and globally. Physicians and scientists of Weill Cornell Medical College are engaged in cutting-edge research from bench to bedside, aimed at unlocking mysteries of the human body in health and sickness and toward developing new treatments and prevention strategies. In its commitment to global health and education, Weill Cornell has a strong presence in places such as Qatar, Tanzania, Haiti, Brazil, Austria and Turkey. Through the historic Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, the Medical College is the first in the U.S. to offer its M.D. degree overseas. Weill Cornell is the birthplace of many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer, the synthesis of penicillin, the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S., the first clinical trial of gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease, and most recently, the world’s first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. Weill Cornell Medical College is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, where its faculty provides comprehensive patient care at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. The Medical College is also affiliated with the Methodist Hospital in Houston. For more information, visit weill.cornell.edu.
Located in Osaka, Japan, Takeda is a research-based global company with its main focus on pharmaceuticals. As the largest pharmaceutical company in Japan and one of the global leaders of the industry, Takeda is committed to strive towards better health for people worldwide through leading innovation in medicine.
For more than 230 years, Takeda has been serving society with innovative medicines and helping patients reclaim valuable moments of life from illness. Now, with new healthcare solutions from prevention to care and cure, Takeda is determined to help even more people enjoy their lives to the fullest.
We continue to transform the future of healthcare by unifying our strengths as “Global One Takeda.” Takeda is a diverse organization committed to working with local communities to fully understand their needs and deliver industry-leading solutions with a sense of urgency, dedication and unparalleled efficiency.
Our passion for healthcare and commitment to improving lives will enable us to make the next 230 years healthier and brighter for people around the world.
Additional information about Takeda is available through our corporate website, www.takeda.com.