Michael A. Foley, an accomplished chemist and entrepreneur with more than 25 years of industry and academic experience, has been named director of the new Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute, a pioneering collaboration of Weill Cornell Medical College, The Rockefeller University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center formed in October.
Foley is scientific co-founder of four companies and one academic institute and has placed 12 single-agent or combination drugs into clinical development. He was most recently the Director of the Chemical Biology Platform at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, which successfully established over 150 high throughput screening development collaborations under his leadership. Dr. Foley previously worked at Bristol-Myers Squibb and GlaxoSmithKline, and obtained his Ph.D. in chemistry at Harvard.
"I am thrilled to be part of this pioneering approach to drug discovery," says Foley, who will be known as the Sanders Director of the Tri-I TDI in recognition of a $15 million gift from Lewis and Ali Sanders. "The structure of the Tri-I TDI has enormous potential to not only bridge the gap between academia and the pharmaceutical industry, but to take burgeoning ideas and rapidly adapt them into real, tangible treatments that can benefit patients now."
The Tri-I TDI was formally launched in October and formed its first collaboration with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, Ltd., a global research-based pharmaceutical company with a strong record of bringing new medicines to market, to develop small-molecule drugs. The Institute, which represents a novel partnership of academic institutions working together to more effectively translate basic research discoveries into the clinic, will focus on the early stages of developing compounds that make possible all-important "proof of concept" studies — those that increase the likelihood that targeting a specific biologic pathway can favorably alter the course of a disease.
"Tri-I TDI is about enabling our scientists to move their discoveries towards clinical application. An important component of this will be building links between academia and industry, and with his extensive experience in both environments Dr. Foley is an ideal choice to serve as the institute's founding director," says Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of The Rockefeller University. "His entrepreneurial skill and deep background in chemical biology will ensure that Tri-I TDI develops into the groundbreaking initiative we have envisioned."