Merck and Sanofi are joining Novartis’ 10-year commitment to increasing diversity in clinical research through a collaboration with historically Black colleges and universities.
With new grants worth $17.7 million, the so-called Beacon of Hope program now totals more than $50 million in commitments over the decade-long project, which aims to address health disparities and enhance diversity, equity and inclusion across drug research and development, particularly in clinical trials.
“Last year we issued a call to action to other like-minded companies and organizations to join us in creating this paradigm shift in health equity, and we are honored and humbled that Merck and Sanofi have answered that call,” Novartis US Foundation president Patrice Matchaba said in a statement.
The three Big Pharmas will work with four HBCUs, which have seen
in recent years, to set up what they call Clinical Trial Centers of Excellence, or COEs. The partners aim to improve clinical study capabilities and ramp up inclusion of communities of color, Novartis said Wednesday.
Pushes for trial diversity have been increasing within the industry and the FDA laid out
on doing so in recent months.
Novartis had already set up a COE with Morehouse School of Medicine, and three more HBCUs have signed on to work with the pharmas: Howard University College of Medicine, Meharry Medical College and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science.
“Healthy equity isn’t just a goal, it’s a right. But like so many rights we now enjoy, shepherding it from idea to movement to reality takes a concerted effort, unyielding will and strong partnerships,” Charles R. Drew president and CEO David Carlisle said in a statement.
Morehouse’s first trial will test a cholesterol management pathway in patients who recently underwent an acute coronary syndrome event. More Novartis clinical trial partnerships could include cardiovascular, breast cancer and prostate cancer investigational meds. The university will “soon” begin evaluating Merck and Sanofi clinical studies to partner on.
“Beacon of Hope opens new doors for Morehouse School of Medicine students and researchers,” said school president and CEO Valerie Montgomery Rice in a statement.
Aside from working on clinical trials, the Beacon of Hope program has also launched a 10-week paid summer fellowship, to occur every year for a decade. Novartis will train up to 250 scientists at 17 HBCU medical schools via a mentorship program that teaches drug discovery, data analytics and clinical research practices.
Novartis is also teaming up on three-year scholarships for 120 students at HBCU medical schools and will award 100 research grants to faculty members researching drivers of health disparities over the course of the decade.
The Big Pharma is also partnering with online education tool Coursera to roll out courses next year on STEM training in underserved communities. The goal is to increase biomedical research career pathways. Clinical trial leaders, community health workers and pharma R&D will be the focuses of the first three courses.
Martinsried/Munich, Germany, October 21, 2008 -- SuppreMol GmbH, a privately held biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, today announced the expansion of its management team as well as major changes in its Supervisory Board and Scientific Advisory Board following its recent Series B financing round.
As of December 1, 2008, Dr Peter Sondermann will become Chief Scientific Officer of SuppreMol. Dr Sondermann was one of SuppreMol's co-founders in 2002. He now joins the Company from Glycart biotechnology AG, a member of the Roche group based in Schlieren, Switzerland, where he served as Head of Process Biochemistry since March 2004. Prior to that, Dr Sondermann was Group Leader Structural Immunology at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry, Martinsried/Germany.
Dr Uwe Jacob, also a co-founder and previously Chief Scientific Officer at SuppreMol, will become the Company’s Chief Development Officer and will be responsible for accelerating new R&D projects to further broaden SuppreMol’s pipeline.
In January 2009, Sascha Tillmanns will join SuppreMol as Medical Director from PARI Pharma GmbH, Munich, Germany, where he serves as Director Clinical Development. From 2002-2005, he was Senior Manager Clinical Research at Fujisawa GmbH, Munich. From 1999-2002, Mr. Tillmanns was Clinical Research Manager and Clinical Research Coordinator at Amersham GmbH. Prior to that he worked as Clinical Product Specialist and Clinical Research Associate at AstraZeneca GmbH, Germany. Mr. Tillmanns holds a Master’s degree in Biology from Philipps-University in Marburg, Germany, and a Master’s degree in Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Medicine from Free University of Brussels, Belgium.
Furthermore, SuppreMol announced that Dr Thomas Hecht has been appointed to Chairman of the Company’s Supervisory Board. He was previously Vice President Marketing at Amgen Europe, Lucerne, Switzerland. Dr. Hecht also serves on the board of several other biotech companies and assists biotech and pharma companies in clinical development, marketing and licensing through his consulting company based in Küssnacht, Switzerland.
Michael Motschmann, Managing Partner at MIG AG, and Dr Markus Hosang, General Partner at BioMedInvest, and a former member of Roche senior Pharma R&D management, will join SuppreMol´s Supervisory Board, representing the joint co-lead investors of the Company’s recent Series B financing round. Prof Dr Ernst-Günter Afting and Ulrich Mahr will continue to serve as members of SuppreMol´s Supervisory Board.
SuppreMol also announced the appointments of Prof Dr Fritz Melchers and Prof Dr Falk Nimmerjahn to its Scientific Advisory Board. Prof Melchers is a leading expert in the field of Immunology and has been the Director of the Basel Institute for Immunology for more than 20 years. He currently heads the Department of Lymphocyte Development at the Max Planck Institute for Infectious Biology, Berlin, Germany. Falk Nimmerjahn is Professor for Experimental Immunology and Immune Therapy at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany, and has a strong research focus on Fc-receptors. Prof Dr Robert Huber remains Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board.
„We are delighted about expanding SuppreMol´s management team and strengthening the Company’s industry and scientific expertise”, said Dr Thomas Hecht, Chairman of SuppreMol´s Supervisory Board. “The entire team is looking forward to accelerating SuppreMol´s development into a multi-product portfolio company within the next couple of years.”
SuppreMol is a privately held biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of autoimmune diseases. The Company is pioneering the development of soluble Fc?-Receptors (sFcRs), which are recombinant autologous therapeutic proteins with a proven strong immunosuppressive potential. The Company plans to develop sFcRs for the treatment of idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions.
SuppreMol was founded in 2002 as a spin-off from the laboratory of Prof. Dr Robert Huber, Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1988, at the Max Planck Institute for Biochemistry in Martinsried, Germany. The Company has raised EUR 19.7 million in two financing rounds since May 2006 and received a EUR 1.75 million “Innovative Therapeutics” grant from the BMBF in March 2007.