Harrington drug discovery project’s first grants will fund cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s research

The first grants from a first-of-its-kind, $250 million drug discovery initiative based at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland will fund research projects in a broad spectrum of areas from cancer and diabetes to ALS and liver regeneration.

The Harrington Discovery Institute, the nonprofit leg of the Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, announced on Wednesday the 10 physician-scientists it chose to become Harrington Scholars. They will receive up to $200,000 over two years as well as assistance with writing business plans, securing necessary intellectual property and transitioning into the commercialization process.

Drawing its name from the Ron and Nancy Harrington family, whose $50 million donation will support the initiative, the Harrington Project comprises for-profit and nonprofit components aimed at ushering new drug candidates through the period of development where grant funding usually runs out but pharmaceutical companies and VCs aren’t ready to invest. The selected scholars could eventually become candidates to have their discoveries licensed to the for-profit arm of the project, called BioMotiv.


Here are the disease targets the grants are funding, and the projects that will benefit from them:

Alzheimer’s disease — Dr. Marc Diamond at Washington University in St. Louis

Project: A novel, “anti-tau” antibody therapy for the treatment of dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Cancer — Dr. Roger Greenberg at University of Pennsylvania

Project: A new class of anticancer drugs for breast and ovarian cancer that uses a novel drug-screening technology.

Cancer — Dr. Robert Wilson at University of Pennsylvania

Project: Identification and optimization of novel RNA-based drugs that treat all classes of cancer.

Myocardial infarction — Dr. Richard Kitsis at Einstein College of Medicine

Project: Creation of a drug to reduce heart cell damage from heart attacks.

Diabetes — Dr. Jonathan Powell at Johns Hopkins University

Project: New class of drugs for obesity and diabetes that would lower bad cholesterol and glucose by generating brown fat.

Pain — Dr. Wolfgang Liedtke at Duke University

Project: A new class of drugs that inhibit pain response in skin, with potential applications in sunburn and wound pain.

Tuberculosis — Dr. Larry Schlesinger at Ohio State University

Project: New class of anti-TB drugs that would shorten the duration of treatment and prevent resistance.

Wound healing Dr. Geoffrey Gurtner at Stanford University

Project: Topical drug to heal wounds, particularly in diabetic populations.

Pulmonary HTN and liver regeneration — Dr. Sanford Markowitz at Case Western Reserve University

Project: Compound that increases tissue prostaglandins to treat multiple human diseases including pulmonary hypertension, liver regeneration and cancer.

ALS and multiple myeloma — Dr. Scott Oakes at University of California, San Francisco

Project: Discovery of a life-death switch in cells caused by protein misfolding, which could lead to new drugs for ALS, diabetes and multiple myeloma.

[Senior male researcher photo from BigStock]

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