R&D, Startups

Deerfield takes translational partnership model to Harvard with $100M deal

In an increasingly generous effort to bridge some of America’s best biomedical research with the commercial world, Deerfield has committed $100 million to a new translational research alliance with Harvard University.

Through a company dubbed Lab1636, Deerfield will fund a number of R&D projects that bolster drug discovery and development, for example studies to explicate the biology of disease, validate therapeutic targets, or achieve IND-enabling proof-of-concepts. In addition, the investment firm will help university researchers liaise with outside companies for licensing deals, as well as nurture new startups coming out of the university.

“The sheer scope of this collaboration with Deerfield may prove transformative for Harvard research,” said Vivian Berlin of Harvard’s Office of Technology Development, which spearheaded the partnership. “This alliance has immense potential to bridge the development gap, ensure continuity of resources, and complement our other major translational programs, such as the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator.”

Harvard has been piling up cash to turn its scientific insights into viable therapeutics more quickly. Just several months ago, billionaire Len Blavatnik’s family foundation pledged a historic $200 million gift toward a similar cause of expediting translational research across departments — which involved a new incubator, expanded recruitment efforts, a call for interdisciplinary collaboration, and a boost to the technical infrastructure.

James Flynn

Meanwhile under managing partner James Flynn, Deerfield began testing its novel idea for fostering translational work in 2017, when it signed a $50 million deal to back projects at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Instead of chiming in after a company is spun out from an academic lab, it would play a front and center role in creating those biotech startups.

That was followed by a tie-up with the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill last October, in which Deerfield invested $65 million. Slightly thereafter, Deerfield helped create a $80 million research center at Dana Farber devoted to protein degradation.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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