University Hospitals Launches $250 Million National Initiative to Accelerate New Drug Development Inspired by Physician-Scientists

University Hospitals Launches $250 Million National Initiative to Accelerate New Drug Development Inspired by Physician-Scientists

Established by a $50 million gift from the Harrington family, the initiative promises to revolutionize drug discovery in the U.S.

Cleveland, Ohio – University Hospitals (UH) has announced a $250 million initiative that promises to dramatically change how drugs will advance from discovery in the laboratories to commercialization, resulting in greater access to advanced treatments and cures for patients. The first-of-its-kind initiative, named The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, is powered by a $50 million gift – the largest donation in the health system's history - from the Harrington family, recognized entrepreneurs and philanthropists in Cleveland.

UH Chief Executive Officer Thomas F. Zenty III announced to more than 1,000 community members that, "For almost 150 years, University Hospitals has placed a strong emphasis on translational research and personalized medicine in order to realize our mission: 'To Heal. To Teach. To Discover.' Through this pivotal gift from the Harrington family, we are creating a bold new pathway for physician-scientists who are inspired by their patients to discover and create novel therapies."

The Harrington Project includes a new clinical research initiative, University Hospitals Harrington Discovery Institute, and a new mission-aligned development company. Aligning the entities will, for the first time at an academic medical center, provide a comprehensive model to advance discoveries into development and create novel drugs and therapies for patient care. The Harrington Project provides a unique structure for entrepreneurial physician-scientists to focus on the discovery process and enable them to advance their promising therapies into the clinical development pipeline for the benefit of individuals and communities worldwide.

"We are very excited to support University Hospitals in what we see as a national model that will bring new drugs to the market to help patients with heart disease, cancer and other health conditions," said Ron Harrington. "Our personal experience with University Hospitals and seeing first-hand how discovery can advance patient care led us to be part of this innovative project."

For the last decade, American medicine has been challenged in developing new medicines.  Lacking government and investor funding and partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, many research discoveries are unable to advance into clinical development.

"The current system nationally has been flawed, and we believe this new initiative is the solution. One of the challenges that we have today is that many biomedical discoveries end up staying on the shelf; they never get commercialized," said Achilles A. Demetriou, MD, PhD, UH Chief Operating Officer. "Through The Harrington Project, we are providing a mechanism for physician-scientists to function in a structured environment where they can be challenged, coached and supported to develop their insights into therapies."

UH Harrington Discovery Institute: The Home for Physician-Scientists

The UH Harrington Discovery Institute will provide funding, mentoring, and an infrastructure to advance breakthrough, patient-inspired clinical research projects. In addition to the Harrington family's gift to establish the UH Harrington Discovery Institute, University Hospitals during the past several years has invested more than $100 million in physician-scientist development and continues its investment.

The UH Harrington Discovery Institute is assembling an advisory panel made up of internationally renowned clinician-scientist leaders in medicine to select the first 10 Harrington Scholars this year. Harrington Scholars will receive significant funding in two-year intervals. Harrington Scholars will be provided with focused direction on the steps necessary to move a discovery forward through early stage research to clinical development, training not currently provided to physician-scientists.

"The UH Harrington Discovery Institute will become the home for enterprising physician-scientists committed to discoveries and patient care," added Dr. Demetriou. "We believe that our unique environment, the attraction of entrepreneurial physician-scientists as well as an additional mechanism for commercialization of the technology is a combination which hasn't been attempted before."

The open design of the Institute – based at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland's University Circle – will allow for collaboration with major academic medical centers across the country. UH Case Medical Center is a nationally recognized academic medical center and is the primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

The Creation of a Novel Commercialization Vehicle: Bringing Discoveries to Market

As part of the Harrington Project, a mission-aligned vehicle for commercialization has been created to develop the discoveries made by Harrington Scholars as well as other academic researchers.  The company, with a CEO and management team in place, has raised its initial capital and is in the process of attracting additional investors and evaluating programs with an initial capital plan of more than $100 million.

"The Harrington Project recognizes the importance of rethinking the discovery and development process from start to finish, with nationally acclaimed physician-scientists at the core of a bold model," said Jonathan S. Stamler, MD, the newly named Director of the UH Harrington Discovery Institute and Director of the Institute for Transformative Molecular Medicine at UH Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "As a result of this new model, we get an accelerated, focused discovery process that will benefit society at large."

The company will build a portfolio of high value, early-stage development programs and will leverage the extensive insights and networks of national scientific and commercial advisory boards.  It will advance programs to a stage of clinical development that will attract additional financial and industry partners.  The company will be formally announced later this year.

"Our academic medical center - University Hospitals Case Medical Center - has long been recognized for our contributions to clinical research and delivering the most advanced technological and innovative care," added Mr. Zenty. "The Harrington Project will elevate the physician-scientists' role in finding the cures of tomorrow with University Hospitals Case Medical Center playing an extraordinary role."

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