University Hospitals launches $250M national drug development program

Project aims to speed discovery of new treatments

Topics: Strategy

March 1, 2012

Cleveland-based University Hospitals (UH) on Tuesday announced the official launch of a national program designed to speed the development of new drugs, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development will be funded by $250 million in grants and other investments, including a $50 million donation from Cleveland philanthropist Ron Harrington, for whom the project is named.

The program aims to advance drugs past the so-called "valley of death"—the middle stages of development where many projects fail to attract enough funding to continue. The project also will support physicians and scientists at universities and medical centers across the country, in addition to bolstering Cleveland's reputation as a leading medical center, the Plain Dealer reports.

Project components

The project includes two major components. The first involves the creation of a research institute under the University Hospitals' umbrella. The Harrington Scholars program across two years will provide $100,000 in funding, support, and mentorship to 10 physician-scientists in the midst of developing promising new drugs.

The second part of the project involves a for-profit development company that will help researchers propel their drug discoveries through clinical trials and the commercialization process. The company aims to attract industry and financial partners to help drugs developed by Harrington Scholars advance to the marketplace. Proceeds would be distributed to investors, the developers, and the academic institutions that employ them.

At the program's official launch on Tuesday, Harrington said he hopes the project will "assure physician-scientists that their discoveries are carried further along to completion" and "create in the Cleveland business community an investment into the health care arena." He added that the program's primary endpoint "is saving lives" (Magaw, Crain's Cleveland Business, 2/28; Suchetka, Plain Dealer, 2/29; Glenn, MedCity News, 2/28).

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