Firm may invest up to $50M over five years into promising R&D, preclinical/clinical development, and incentives including milestones.

Pfizer is expecting to invest up to $50 million over the next five years into a therapeutics discovery and development partnership with University of California, San Diego Health Sciences. The collaboration is the latest in Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) network, through which the firm is working with life science research institutions in California, Massachusetts, and New York.

The investment will in part support research, preclinical, and clinical development of sponsored programs, and cover potential milestone payments to UCSD Health Sciences relating to project progress. Pfizer will also provide dedicated lab space at its La Jolla R&D facility for scientists from both organizations to work together, along with access to some of its antibody libraries and technologies, and dedicated resources and support in drug development and protein sciences.  

The firm claims its CTI initiative differs from other open-innovation programs in that it aims to foster true collaboration, co-location, and transparency. Partners are provided with equitable IP rights, together with milestone payments and royalties. Each CTI partnership includes Pfizer employees plus basic and translational science investigators and doctoral candidates from the academic medical center (AMC). Participating AMCs and principal investigators have added incentives in the form of broad publishing rights, and the ability to use all intellectual property, joint or otherwise, for research purposes.

“Our ultimate goal is to bridge the gap between scientific discovery and the delivery of promising candidates to the pipeline,” comments Jose Carlos Gutierrez-Ramos, Ph.D., svp and head of biotherapeutics R&D at Pfizer. It’s a goal supported by UCSD. “Public-private partnerships are increasingly important in scientific research, especially in an era of decreasing federal grant support when resources are needed to commercialize innovations related to healthcare,” adds Gary Firestein, M.D., dean and associated vice chancellor of translational medicine and director of the Clinical and Translational Research Institute at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. “The UC San Diego-Pfizer agreement is an example of how we can work together and will hopefully serve as a model for other collaborations with industry.”

Pfizer established its first CTI partnership in November 2010, with the University of California San Francisco. The firm had previously teamed up with seven of New York City’s top research universities and hospitals to expand the CTI program.

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