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UCSF and GSK Launch New Collaborative Research Model

Proof-of-Concept Projects Will Focus On Cancer, Obesity and Infectious Disease

By Kristen Bole

UC San Francisco (UCSF) has launched a collaboration with international pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) to promote early-stage research with the potential to translate into new therapies for cancer, obesity and antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Through the collaboration, researchers from UCSF will work alongside GSK scientists to identify and jointly expedite promising basic research. In a shift from traditional sponsored-research agreements, the program will provide early-stage funding for validating academic discoveries that are not otherwise supported by traditional grant mechanisms.

UCSF is the first academic research university to partner with GSK at the proof-of-concept stage since the company launched Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) in 2010. The program focuses on projects with a specific and testable hypothesis in any disease area that would deliver therapeutic benefit to patients. At UCSF, it will launch with early-stage funding for three validation projects, which were selected following a campuswide call for proposals.

“This is a novel approach to engaging with a significant industry partner to translate biological discoveries into new therapies for patients,” said Daniel Lowenstein, MD, executive vice chancellor and provost at UCSF.  “By providing access to the significant expertise and resources at GSK, this collaboration will support the critical early stage in the continuum of research, from proof of concept to clinical development. For researchers who have dedicated their careers to solving mysteries behind the causes of cancer or other conditions, this is an essential step in enabling their discoveries to have a direct impact on the lives of the patients we serve.”

The GSK program will provide critical mentoring to UCSF scientists to advance research from an idea to a candidate medicine. The collaboration with GSK is the first of its kind for UCSF and provides a funding stream to support the translation of early academic research into bona fide, validated drug targets and mechanisms. 

“We consider ourselves fortunate to have developed a productive and rewarding interaction with UCSF,” said GSK Executive Director David Parry, PhD, adding that the close work with the UCSF Office of Innovation, Technology and Alliances was essential in developing the new collaborative model and sourcing opportunities.

“We view these early stage efforts as a critical component of our overall strategy in building a pipeline of diverse and exciting projects,” Parry said. “The three selected UCSF proposals each have the potential to mature into fully-fledged drug discovery collaborations.”

About UCSF

UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy, a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences, as well as a preeminent biomedical research enterprise and two top-ranked hospitals, UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco.

About GSK

GSK – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.  For further information please visit www.gsk.com.