In order to accelerate the translation of basic biomedical research into innovative, new medicines to treat disease, Merck recently announced a collaboration to create the California Institute for Biomedical Research (Calibr), an independent, not-for-profit organization--501(c)(3).
Calibr will be led by Peter G. Schultz, Ph.D., a world-renowned chemist and biotechnology entrepreneur. The Institute will offer academic scientists, around the world, a streamlined, efficient and flexible path for translating their biomedical research into novel medicines.
“Calibr represents a new paradigm for early-stage translational research,” said Dr. Schultz, director of Calibr and Scripps Professor of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute. “By leveraging the drug discovery expertise and resources of Calibr, academic researchers will have the opportunity to maximize the potential therapeutic value of their research.”
Calibr investigators will work collaboratively with academic scientists to advance new discoveries to preclinical proof of concept at which stage commercial partnerships will be sought for further development.
Merck will provide funding to Calibr of up to $90 million over a period of seven years. Merck has an option to obtain an exclusive commercial license to any proteins or small molecule therapeutic candidates derived from work conducted by Calibr.
For any projects not licensed by Merck, Calibr will be free to seek alternative sources of funding for further development. In addition, the Institute plans to access funds from government and non-government sources. Revenues derived from licenses will be shared between Calibr and the collaborating institutions.
Project proposals from the scientific community will be chosen on the basis of novelty, biomedical impact and technical feasibility and reviewed by a scientific advisory board headed by Christopher T. Walsh, Ph.D., Hamilton Kuhn Professor, Department of Biological Chemistry and Pharmacology, Harvard University. In addition, an independent board of directors headed by John D. Diekman, Ph.D., founder and managing partner of 5AM Ventures will oversee the activities of the Institute.
“Effective translation of basic biomedical research is essential to advancing the next generation of novel therapies,” said Peter S. Kim, Ph.D., president, Merck Research Laboratories and member of Calibr scientific advisory board. “Calibr will provide an important venue where basic research and drug discovery scientists may leverage each others' strengths in the fight against disease.”
Calibr will be located in San Diego, Calif., in close proximity to The Scripps Research Institute, Salk Institute, University of California, San Diego and Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. Calibr will be equipped with the latest high through-put screening and imaging, medicinal and protein chemistry and preclinical sciences capabilities.
As more companies begin to collaborate and fund new independent research organizations, patients will begin to benefit tremendously by the increased translation of basic biomedical research into innovative, new medicines to treat disease. Relationships and collaborations such as this should be applauded and encouraged throughout the world so that we have the best and brightest scientists in academia, government, and industry working and communicating together to find cures for cancer and HIV and better treatments for diabetes and heart disease.