Columbia University teams up with Deerfield for $130M R&D alliance

Venture capital firm Deerfield Management has committed up to $130 million for a long-term drug discovery collaboration with Columbia University in New York City. (Pixabay/igormattio)

Venture capital firm Deerfield Management has committed up to $130 million for a long-term drug discovery collaboration with Columbia University.

The $130 million is to be funneled over a 10-year period through a new company borne of the alliance known as Hudson Heights Innovations (HHI). The cash will come predominately from Deerfield and its partners, which will also provide scientific expertise to the venture.

The focus is broad, and vague: “The collaboration is intended to advance the translation of biomedical discoveries into transformative treatments for improved quality of life and cures for disease,” the pair says in a statement.

Columbia adds that the partnership will also: “Catalyze the development of novel therapeutics out of the research labs of Columbia University and accelerate these discoveries toward clinical validation in patients.”

Lee Goldman, M.D., dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine and CEO of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, added a little extra color: “Much of our research is aimed at understanding at the molecular level how diseases develop and how we can intervene with drugs or other therapeutics. The goal of our alliance with Deerfield is to shepherd those discoveries into clinical development as rapidly as possible and create new therapies that improve the lives of patients.”

In practical terms, and starting this fall, the collaboration will allow Columbia researchers to submit proposals on projects for consideration by an HHI committee comprising scientific leadership representing both Columbia and Deerfield. 

“Accepted projects will include a development plan aimed at achieving Investigational New Drug (IND) readiness. Deerfield will provide funding and operational support for accepted projects, and successful projects that achieve IND-enabled status may be eligible for additional capital from Deerfield,” the VC group explains.

“We hold Columbia’s research enterprise—a city in itself of preeminent research centers and institutes—in the highest regard. And we believe that New York City is on its way to becoming a leading life science capital and the perfect venue for our collaboration with Columbia, as we collectively seek to develop new medicines to address unmet medical needs,” said James Flynn, managing partner at Deerfield.

“The Columbia investigators will have Deerfield’s support to expedite the drug development cycle, which we expect will allow patients to receive treatments faster and physician-scientists more time to turn their attention to the next discovery.”

Under the terms of the deal, HHI also gets an option to license HHI-funded intellectual property developed at Columbia.