GSK Funds New Research InstituteBy
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced that it will invest in a new research institute, the Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences (Altius), an independent, non-profit research institute, in Seattle, Washington. Altius will be developing new technologies and approaches for decoding how genes are controlled and how a cell's “operating system” functions in health and disease. GSK expects to capitalize on rapid progress in understanding gene control to select and validate better drug targets and to accelerate many key aspects of developing new medicines. Altius will be wholly independent from GSK, with its own management, board of directors and external advisors.
Altius will be led by Dr John A. Stamatoyannopoulos, an expert in gene regulation research and Professor of Genome Sciences and Medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine. Altius will create a research environment that couples the scientific creativity and innovation of an academic environment with integrated capabilities in instrumentation, automation, and computation.
GSK and Altius have signed a 10-year collaboration agreement that provides long-term support for innovative, high-impact research. During the first five years, GSK will provide over $95 million in cash and other resources to advance the institute's basic research and technology efforts, which are also expected to attract funding from public and other sources. Additional GSK funding will be provided to apply the institute's technologies and discoveries to a wide range of drug discovery and development projects, including specific projects identified by GSK. Expecting Altius to be a catalyst of innovation, GSK has retained first rights to option the institute's inventions, and to invest in commercialization of its discoveries via spinout companies.
GSK hopes that its investment will improve R&D productivity. Because of poor visibility into how medicines affect the inner workings of cells and tissues, many drugs fail in late stage development, which is extremely expensive. Gaining vision into the function and control of a cell's genes will greatly improve the probability of selecting and developing the right drug targets for the right diseases. GSK's work with Altius is expected to result in increased efficiency and reduced attrition across R&D at GSK and could reshape the way drug development is conducted industry-wide.
Altius expects to collaborate extensively with Seattle-area research institutions. Seattle is home to biomedical research institutions, such as the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The institute is expected to be operational later this year.