December 15, 2010 — The University of Virginia has entered into a biomedical development partnership with BioPontis Alliance LLC, the alliance announced today.
U.Va. joins other world-class research institutions, including New York University, Columbia University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, in the BioPontis Alliance model, which seeks to dramatically improve how scientific discoveries are translated into real-world medicine.
The announcement was made at the Partnering for Cures meeting in New York City, where researchers, innovators and patient advocates are meeting with investors with the goal of bringing therapies to patients more quickly.
"We're excited to join the BioPontis University Alliance," said W. Mark Crowell, U.Va.'s executive director for innovation partnerships and commercialization, who joined the Office of the Vice President for Research earlier this year. "The model offers an attractive mechanism for capitalizing on U.Va.'s strong initiatives in such partnerships and translational research."
Crowell was at the meeting in New York with Greg Fralish, program director for clinical and translational research in the U.Va. School of Medicine, to do a presentation on the "diabetes launchpad." Part of the University's Diabetes Center, the launchpad is designed to look for cutting-edge ideas that have the potential to make a significant difference for diabetics.
The partnership with BioPontis is another element of what Crowell calls the "innovation ecosystem," in which U.Va. joins forces with companies or organizations with different types of resources.
"If we have early stage therapies in development, this gives us another set of partners with access to financial resources, management and scientific expertise, and industry connections to help accelerate their progress to market," he said..
Crowell said U.Va. is in a select group with the new alliance. "They only wanted eight or nine universities to partner with," he said of BioPontis.
A year ago, U.Va. announced a strategic research collaboration with the pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, to enhance development of new treatments, primarily for coronary artery disease and with a secondary focus on peripheral vascular disease. "It's important for us to have connections with organizations that offer different expertise, operating in different markets," Crowell said.
BioPontis Alliance is the creator of a first-in-kind business model that bridges the feasibility gap of discovery biomedical research between its university alliance partners and the biopharmaceutical industry. Working closely with its research partners, BioPontis Alliance's scientific and commercialization industry veterans select promising science and then work with the inventing scientist in a novel partnership.
With BioPontis' capital investment, together they perform the required proof of principle work that reduces risk and builds value in the science as it moves toward being proven as a new therapeutic approach.
BioPontis University Alliance Partners make up research consortia that represent a robust discovery engine fueled by nearly $1 billion in biomedical research funding. Besides U.Va., the partners include:
• Columbia University
• Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
• New York University (including School of Medicine)
• The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
• The University of Florida
• The University of Pennsylvania
On Tuesday, BioPontis Alliance announced a partnership with the pharmaceutical giant Merck.
"Recent announcements with the University of Virginia and Merck are evidence of the need for the model that the BioPontis Alliance is bringing to the industry," said Dr. Barbara Handelin, president at BioPontis Alliance. "Increased industry collaboration through this model will be essential in transforming more academic research into higher quality patient care."