Google-backed Calico will create a research-and-development site in the San Francisco Bay Area as part of a new, up-to-$1.5 billion R&D collaboration with AbbVie, the companies said today.

The collaboration is intended to help the companies discover, develop, and bring to market new therapies for patients with neurodegeneration and cancer, as well as other age-related diseases. The R&D site will focus on drug discovery and early drug development efforts that draw on AbbVie’s commercial expertise and its scientific and clinical development support, AbbVie and Calico said.

Calico—an acronym for its formal name of California Life Sciences LLC—was founded last year by Google, which funds the company to carry out R&D into the biology that controls lifespan, then apply that know-how by developing advanced technologies toward “interventions that enable people to lead longer and healthier lives.”

“We’re tackling aging, one of life’s greatest mysteries,” Calico declares on its website.

Calico’s founder and CEO is Arthur D. Levinson, Ph.D., the former Genentech chairman and CEO, with Hal V. Barron, M.D. serving as president and R&D. Dr. Levinson is also Apple’s chairman and a former Google director from 2004 to 2009, while Dr. Barron is also a former Genentech executive who served as its EVP and CMO.

The companies said they will each provide an initial up to $250 million, followed by an additional $500 million. Calico will oversee research and early development during the first five years, and continue to advance collaboration projects through Phase IIa for a 10-year period.

In return, AbbVie agreed to support Calico in its early R&D efforts and—after completion of Phase IIa studies—will have the option to manage late-stage development and commercial activities. Both companies will share costs and profits equally.

“We are extremely proud to have our research teams partnering with Calico as we aim to address treatments for diseases of aging,” Michael Severino, M.D., AbbVie’s EVP, R&D and CSO, said in a statement.

Calico said it expected to begin “filling critical positions immediately,” establishing a “substantial team” of scientists and research staff that would be based in the Bay Area. The companies did not detail where within the region their R&D site would be located.

“Our relationship with AbbVie is a pivotal event for Calico, whose mission is to develop life-enhancing therapies for people with age-related diseases.  It will greatly accelerate our efforts to understand the science of aging, advance our clinical work, and help bring important new therapies to patients everywhere,” stated Dr. Levinson.

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