Public Release: 

Harrington Discovery Institute announces 2015 partnership scholars

University Hospitals Case Medical Center

Cleveland, Ohio - The Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio - part of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development - has announced 2015 Harrington Scholars selected in collaboration with R&D partners University of Oxford, Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF), and Foundation Fighting Blindness.

These Harrington Discovery Institute collaborations offer selected Harrington grant winners funding and expert pharmaceutical guidance to move discoveries along the path to drug development. The work of these scholars holds great promise but is not advanced enough to attract drug development funding from the pharmaceutical industry. This translational gap is referred to as the "Valley of Death." The mission of the institute is to bridge the valley by facilitating the journey of new medication development.

This is the first year of a collaboration with Foundation Fighting Blindness, named for founder Gordon Gund. The inaugural Gund-Harrington Scholars are:

  • Albert La Spada, MD, PhD, University of California, San Diego, whose work focuses on retinal degeneration, specifically the development of a novel treatment for Spinocerebellar ataxia type 7.
  • Konstantin Petrukhin, PhD, Columbia University, whose work focuses on juvenile-onset macular degeneration, especially the treatment for Stargardt disease.
  • Donald Zack, MD, PhD, The Johns Hopkins University, whose work focuses on gene therapy for autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (ADRP).

The Harrington Discovery Institute is in its second year of a collaboration with the University of Oxford. The 2015 Oxford-Harrington Scholars are:

  • Helen McShane, MBBS, PhD, whose work focuses on the development of a novel vaccination approach for tuberculosis.
  • Claudia Monaco, MD, PhD, whose work focuses on anti-inflammatory agents for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.

A collaboration with Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation is now in its third year. The 2015 ADDF-Harrington Scholars are:

  • Carol Colton, PhD, Principal Investigator, and James Burke, MD, PhD, Physician Collaborator, Duke University, whose work focuses on the immune response in the brain that appears to be linked to characteristics of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Jerri M. Rook, PhD, Principal Investigator, and Paul Newhouse, MD, Physician Collaborator, Vanderbilt University, whose work focuses on a novel compound for the treatment of symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease.

"The Cleveland-based Harrington Discovery Institute currently supports promising discoveries in North America and the U.K.," said Jonathan Stamler, MD, Director of the Harrington Discovery Institute and Robert S. and Sylvia K. Reitman Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Innovation and Director of the Institute for Transformative Molecular Medicine at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and UH Case Medical Center. "Our support comes through a blend of entrepreneurial savvy and pharmaceutical experience in bringing therapeutics to market. We are agnostic about geography and institution - we look to the end point of advancing products to market to address devastating conditions."

"We at the Foundation Fighting Blindness share Ron Harrington's vision for driving translational research to move promising therapies out of the lab and into human studies, and are excited about our partnership with the Harrington Discovery Institute," said Gordon Gund, chairman and co-founder of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. "The Harrington Discovery Institute's strong depth of expertise in pharmaceutical product development addresses the most critical gap in getting treatments out to the millions with diseases who desperately need them."

Harrington Discovery Institute grant recipients receive funding in addition to strategic project management support from the Harrington Discovery Institute's Innovation Support Center. This includes consulting and management services from experienced pharmaceutical development professionals; as well as regulatory, intellectual property, and business development assistance.

"I am delighted that Professors McShane and Monaco have been selected as the next Oxford-Harrington Scholars," said Professor Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine, University of Oxford. "Their involvement in this relatively new collaboration between Oxford and the Harrington Discovery Institute is exciting and builds on the success of our first scholar, Professor Simmons. The programme allows clinician scientist at Oxford to work with drug development teams to further develop their research to real-world outcomes."

Harrington Scholars also have facilitated access to BioMotiv, a for-profit commercialization company associated with The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, and aligned with the Harrington Discovery Institute in mission and structure. BioMotiv was created to further advance discoveries by academic researchers in areas of unmet need.

"Our partnership with the Harrington Discovery Institute allows us to leverage our combined expertise and resources to advance potential treatments for Alzheimer's disease," said Howard Fillit, MD, Founding Executive Director and Chief Science Officer at the ADDF. "We are excited to support these innovative drug discovery programs. The goal of these awards is to increase the number of Alzheimer's drug targets in the pipeline and accelerate their development. These two teams have been successful with novel approaches to the disease, and we are encouraged by their results."

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Contact information:

For the Harrington Discovery Institute
Paula Darte
Director of Media and Public Relations
University Hospitals/Cleveland, Ohio
216-870-6323
Paula.Darte@UHhospitals.org

For Foundation Fighting Blindness
Ben Shaberman
Director of Science Communication
410-499-9158
bshaberman@blindness.org

For University of Oxford
Alison Brindle
Divisional Communications Manager
University of Oxford
01865 221215
Alison.Brindle@medsci.ox.ac.uk

For Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation
Krishna Knabe
Director of Communications
212-907-7997
kknabe@alzdiscovery.org

Foundation Fighting Blindness has a broad network and deep domain expertise in inherited retinal diseases, a set of programs for funding discoveries and advancing them toward clinical studies, and a robust pipeline of funded projects that represent new therapeutic opportunities. The foundation is funding startup companies and for-profit initiatives through its establishment of the Clinical Research Institute (the "CRI"), a not-for-profit subsidiary, which can partner to provide substantial later-stage funding for high-potential projects. The Foundation Fighting Blindness is supporting several clinical trials and many additional gene and stem-cell-based human studies could begin in the next several years. For more information, please visit http://www.fightblindness.org

Oxford University's Medical Sciences Division is one of the largest biomedical research centres in Europe, with more than 2,500 people involved in research and more than 2,800 students. The University is rated the best in the world for medicine, and it is home to the UK's top-ranked medical school. From the genetic and molecular basis of disease to the latest advances in neuroscience, Oxford is at the forefront of medical research. It has one of the largest clinical trial portfolios in the UK and great expertise in taking discoveries from the lab into the clinic. Partnerships with the local NHS Trusts enable patients to benefit from close links between medical research and healthcare delivery. A great strength of Oxford medicine is its long-standing network of clinical research units in Asia and Africa, enabling world-leading research on the most pressing global health challenges such as malaria, TB, HIV/AIDS and flu. Oxford is also renowned for its large-scale studies which examine the role of factors such as smoking, alcohol and diet on cancer, heart disease and other conditions. For more information, please visit http://www.medsci.ox.ac.uk

About the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation

Founded in 1998 by co-chairmen Leonard A. and Ronald S. Lauder, the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) is dedicated to rapidly accelerating the discovery of drugs to prevent, treat and cure Alzheimer's disease. The ADDF follows a venture philanthropy model, funding research in academia and the biotechnology industry. And it's the only such charity solely dedicated to funding the discovery and development of drugs for Alzheimer's. Through the support of its donors, the ADDF has awarded more than $70 million to fund over 450 Alzheimer's drug discovery programs and clinical trials in 18 countries. To learn more, visit http://www.alzdiscovery.org

Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals, launched in February of 2012 with a generous gift from the Harrington family of Hudson, Ohio, is part of a $250 million international model, The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, to accelerate the development of medical breakthroughs by physician-scientists into medicines that benefit patients. The model aligns, through mission and structure, nonprofit and for-profit resources into a new system for drug development. It addresses a set of major challenges in medicine that have created a development gap for promising discoveries and contributed to a long-term decline in new medicine approvals. Included in the model is the Cleveland-based development company BioMotiv, a for-profit entity created by Cleveland's University Hospitals health system in 2012. For more information, please visit HarringtonDiscovery.org

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