University of Michigan to receive up to $130M to commercialize drug discovery

Credit: Michigan Medicine | University of Michigan

ANN ARBOR – The University of Michigan and health care investment firm Deerfield Management Co. announced Wednesday a new partnership with the aim of developing life-saving drugs and disease treatments. Deerfield has committed up to $130 million over the next decade in biomedical research at U-M.

The collaboration includes the launch of Great Lakes Discoveries LLC, a company to commercialize therapeutic products.

“The University of Michigan has a strong legacy of drug discovery and translation,” Rebecca Cunningham, U-M vice president for research said in a news release. “This new alliance will allow us to advance these discovery and translational efforts, speeding our path to positive impact.”

For its part, Deerfield will contribute development expertise with the objective to deliver more effective treatments to market by helping guide potential cutting-edge, high-need therapeutic treatments.

Great Lakes Discoveries will support all preclinical stages of drug development and discovery.

“We recognize that scientists at preeminent academic research institutions like the University of Michigan provide much of the novel insights that advance our understanding of disease,” William Slattery, Deerfield partner said in a news release.

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“However, at any research institution, the most commercially promising innovations eventually outgrow the lab, requiring greater resources and more focused development expertise than an academic setting can typically provide. We’re excited to have the University of Michigan join us in this important initiative.”

Beginning in the fall, university researchers will be able to submit proposals for review by a committee at Great Lakes comprised of scientific leaders from U-M and Deerfield.

“We are excited to be able to collaborate with Deerfield in a way that will catalyze our translational research efforts by supporting preclinical and commercial clinical development of U-M therapeutics to improve patient care by developing transformative new therapeutics,” Marschall Runge, dean of the U-M Medical School said in a news release.

Kelly Sexton, U-M associate vice president for research-technology transfer and innovation partnerships, who will help oversee the Deerfield alliance, said the new funding will be critical in helping move drug candidates forward to market.

“The University of Michigan has one of the most massive academic therapeutic pipelines in the world, with 14 drug candidates currently in various stages of clinical trials and over 130 preclinical drug discovery, drug repurposing and novel drug target validation programs underway in our labs across campus,” Sexton said in a news release. “This funding will help us to realize the promise of this pipeline.”

Managing partner at Deerfield, James Flynn, is a U-M alumnus and is a member of U-M Life Sciences Institute’s Leadership Council. He said the coronavirus health crisis is a “painful reminder to never become complacent in our fight against disease.”

“I’m confident that the University of Michigan shares this goal, as we join forces to catalyze the development of novel therapeutics and save lives," Flynn said of his alma mater in a news release. "With its vast research platform, the University of Michigan is the ideal partner and we look forward to the innovations that we expect this alliance will bring.”

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.