The Whitehouse Station, New Jersey company is providing up to $90 million in a fund that will be spread over a seven-year period for the California Institute for Biomedical Research, or Calibr. Drug discovery scientists, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists will work together to accelerate the translation of biomedical research into innovative medicines to treat diseases.
Merck has an option to obtain an exclusive commercial license to any proteins or small molecule therapeutic candidates derived from work conducted by Calibr once a project reaches preclinical proof of concept. For other projects, Calibr can seek other funding sources for further development, of which there are plenty as California has the country’s largest concentration of venture capital firms.
The institute also plans to access funds from public and private sources. It will split revenue with collaborating institutions.
The institute will be led by Dr. Peter G. Schultz, who has a reputation as a world-renowned chemist and biotechnology entrepreneur, the company statement said.
Schultz, who is also a chemistry professor at The Scripps Research Institute, said: “Calibr represents a new paradigm for early stage translational research. 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.”
Last October, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) converted its drug research center in nearby La Jolla, California into an incubator for drug development for its pharmaceutical brand Janssen. Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) had a similar setup but ended it after four years.
Earlier this year, the National Institutes of Health opened up the National Center for Advancing Sciences. Temple University is also opening up its own translational research center led by the former head of Jefferson University Hospitals’ center. In November, biotechnology company Elan Corp. and Cambridge University announced they would open a translational research center for Parkinson’s disease.