Science Market Update

Translational Research at UCSD Benefits from Collaboration in Uncertain Times

Posted by BCI Staff on Wed, Aug 24, 2011

UCSD Health Sciences just announced that it will partner with Pfizer to speed delivery of new treatments to market.  Pfizer has been successful with its Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) program at other major research universities, in part because of a non-traditional collaborative approach that includes constant transparency, meaning that they will share resources and information at all stages of research.  What each side brings to the table:

UCSD contributes its research strengths in key areas, including:

  • Neurosciences
  • Cancer
  • Inflammation
  • Metabolism
  • Clinical Pharmacology
  • HIV
  • Pain

Pfizer contributes funding to support the pre-clinical and clinical development of sponsored programs, as well as access to:

  • Pfizer Compound Libraries
  • Proprietary Screening Methods
  • Antibody Development Technologies

When promising therapies result from the CTI collaboration, the university maintains intellectual property rights and is granted milestone payments and royalties tied to the development of successful drug candidates.

The Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) at UC San Diego School of Medicine is one of 83 university translational research programs funded by the NIH's National Center for Research Resources (see our July 22 blog for more on the NIH Clinical and Translational Science Awards), which recently awarded the CTRI at UCSD a five-year, $37.2 million research grant.  The partnership with Pfizer (also 5-year) will likely benefit UCSD in the area of $50M as a result of royalties and support.

ucsd translational research

(Image montage courtesy of UCSD Biomarker Lab)

If the federal government once felt the need to fill in funding gaps left by frugal private biomedical research companies, it seems that it's now falling to public-private partnership to produce translational results.  The latest financial crisis in the US federal economy has more than a few in the life science research industry asking not whether but how much the compromise bill, downgraded credit rating and subsequent stock market tumble will impact the United States' ability to conduct vital research.

An article in The Scientist from August 2 titled "Debt Celing May Hurt Science" comments that the mandatory $2.1 Trillion deficit reduction plan for the next decade may include "significant cuts to the budgets for basic science agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health, the US Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control."  Because the NIH, FDA and CDC fall under the category of discretionary spending, there is a strong possibility that these agencies will bear a large share of the cuts that are inevitable.

Mutually-beneficial collaborations like this one between UCSD and Pfizer are one of the ways scientists and research institutions weather a period of austerity like the one we are certainly facing.  There is no avoiding some form of impact on science research when the economic situation calls for reducing debt in the trillions.  Indeed, it would be selfish to expect not to bear a fair portion of the load when millions of Americans are without work and social programs are stretched to their own limits.  We shoulder hardship together.  We rely on partnerships and networks of support more than we did during the salad days of funding.  Success will come, and quality of life will improve, thanks in part to therapies still being developed by researchers still at work in their labs, piecing together funding creatively and getting by with a little help from their friends. 

If you are a biomedical research lab supply vendor, a San Diego area life science researcher, or UCSD purchasing agent, consider planning to attend the Biotechnology Calendar, Inc. San Diego Biotechnology Vendor Showcase™ Exposition this week. This life science laboratory product show and research networking event is held twice-annually on the UCSD campus. The event, now in its 18th year, is an excellent opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with life science and medical science researchers and to learn about up-to-date laboratory products, science supplies and analytical equipment. This San Diego Research community event will next be held tomorrow, August 25, 2011.

 UCSD research


Tags: University of California San Diego, Translational Research, California, Southwest Region

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