Yale and Gilead Sciences launch cancer research collaboration

Gilead Sciences, Inc. and the Yale School of Medicine today announced the formation of a multi-year research collaboration focused on the discovery of novel cancer therapies.

The research effort will initially span four years with an option to renew for up to 10 years. Gilead will provide $40 million in research support and basic science infrastructure development during the initial four-year period, and will provide a total of up to $100 million over 10 years should the collaboration be extended through that timeframe. Gilead will have the first option to license Yale inventions that result from the collaboration.

Yale and Gilead will develop a multidisciplinary research program to search for the genetic basis and underlying molecular mechanisms of many forms of cancer. Scientists from both organizations will work together to identify new molecular targets that provide better understanding of the basis of disease and enable development of novel targeted therapies, including new therapies that overcome drug resistance that develops in some cancer patients treated with current targeted therapies.

“The collaboration brings together one of the world’s top research universities and a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to addressing unmet medical needs with the goal of finding new treatments for cancer,” President Richard C. Levin said. “This truly is transformative support that leverages the Yale Cancer Center’s top scientists, our West Campus technology investments and the resources of the new Smilow Cancer Hospital. I can’t think of a better partner to have in this collaboration than Gilead.”

Gilead Sciences is a biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative therapeutics in areas of unmet medical need. The company’s mission is to advance the care of patients suffering from life-threatening diseases worldwide. Headquartered in Foster City, California, Gilead has operations in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.

“Following Gilead’s recent acquisitions of cancer development programs, this partnership serves to strengthen our discovery capabilities in the area of oncology,” said Norbert W. Bischofberger, Gilead’s executive vice president for research and development and chief scientific officer. “Based on the strong track-record of the Yale cancer research team, I am confident this collaboration will lead to important advances in the understanding of the genetic basis of cancer as we collectively seek to develop novel targeted therapies for patients in areas of unmet medical need.”

Research projects will be chosen by a joint steering committee to be chaired by Joseph Schlessinger, the William H. Prusoff Professor and chair of Yale’s Department of Pharmacology and director of the Cancer Biology Institute at West Campus.

When we find cancer targets that are new, we will work with Gilead on designing drugs, which they can then test in the clinic,” Schlessinger said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Yale and Gilead.”

The Yale science team will also include Dr. Thomas Lynch, director of the Yale Cancer Center and physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven Hospital, who is renowned for his work in personalized treatments for cancer patients.

The Yale Center for Genome Analysis at West Campus, headed by Dr. Richard Lifton, chair of the Department of Genetics, will analyze the DNA of a variety of tumor types to look for genetic mutations associated with cancers. Schlessinger’s team will use the data to understand effects of the gene mutations on cancer and to identify ways to intervene in the disease process, such as indentifying small molecules that will serve as the basis of new cancer therapies.

“Yale’s faculty in this partnership possess critical and complementary skills that comprise an optimal team for cancer drug development,” according to Dr. Robert Alpern, dean of the Yale School of Medicine. “Tom Lynch brings experience in clinical cancer trials, Rick Lifton has been a leading innovator in genetics and genomics, and Yossi Schlessinger has unparalleled success in cancer drug development.”

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