The University of Melbourne has joined the collaborative research network of biopharmaceutical company Pfizer.

Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) connect the company’s drug development expertise with academic medical centers around the world, with the goal of accelerating innovation toward the development of new medical treatments for novel targets.

Under the terms of the agreement, University of Melbourne researchers will be able to apply for research funding on projects, which, if selected, would allow the researchers to work closely with Pfizer scientists to identify and develop new treatments and potential cures for a host of diseases.

The collaboration with CTI will provide the University of Melbourne’s leading health and medical researchers with access to Pfizer’s expertise in drug development and protein sciences.

The new agreement builds on the University’s established commitment to research translation and industry collaboration, which in 2016 has included the launch of the venture catalyst company, BioCurate, and an expansion of Bio 21 to include CSL’s Global Research and Translational Medicine Hub.

The University is one of 30 academic institutions currently participating in the CTI program, which has research centers in Boston, New York, San Diego and San Francisco.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor James McCluskey said it was noteworthy that Pfizer invited the University to be part of its network.  “We look forward to establishing strategic and productive research programs with Pfizer, with a particular focus on creating new biological compounds with potential therapeutic application in areas such as neuroscience, cancer, and inflammation and immune disorders.”

Vice Principal (Enterprise) Mr Doron Ben-Meir said “This collaboration provides a new avenue for the University’s world-leading biomedical research to potentially contribute to products that could make an important difference in people’s lives. It is squarely in line with the University’s central strategy of close engagement with leading industry partners.”

“CTI sees truly innovative research taking place in Australia, and we are proud to include the University of Melbourne in our network of academic institutions,” said Dr. Anthony J. Coyle, CTI’s Chief Scientific Officer.  “CTI and its academic collaborators are working to speed the drug development process in an effort to bring new treatments and cures to patients.”

As part of the agreement, researchers at the University of Melbourne will propose biomedical research programs to a joint committee of Pfizer and University research leaders, with the investigators of the most promising proposals having the potential to collaborate with CTI and its scientists.

“The team-based discovery and development process our researchers could participate in at Pfizer has the potential to be very instructive, and assist in improving our internal capabilities,” Mr Ben-Meir concluded.