USC finds new routes to industry engagement and funding

In-Part Discover

Story courtesy of In-Part

Over the last year, Dr. Qing Liu-Michael, Program Director at USC Stem Cell and the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at the University of Southern California (USC), has been using IN-PART’s Discover service to find new streams of collaboration with companies proactively seeking academic engagement in response to their R&D requirements. So far, Dr. Liu-Michael has had two big successes through Discover.

The first of these was with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Ltd., whose scientists had developed a curated selective kinase inhibitors library capable of inhibiting more than 130 kinases. The R&D team at Takeda was using Discover to find academic researchers with access to cell-based phenotypic assays relating to neuroscience to probe their kinase inhibitor library. With Dr. Qing Liu-Michael’s help, Dr. Marcelo Pablo Coba from USC submitted a research proposal using patient-derived iPSC models of complex brain disorders, and was ultimately selected by Takeda as a candidate for collaboration.

Dr. Liu-Michael explained that “Since then, the representative from Takeda has visited Dr. Coba in-person to look around the laboratory. Both parties are keen to move forward with the partnership, and we are currently negotiating the funding and IP terms of the project.”

USC’s second success through IN-PART’s Discover service was with a mid-size pharmaceutical company seeking preventative and therapeutic developments in acute and specific kidney injury. Dr. Liu-Michael from USC responded to this Discover campaign by submitting an expert in this research area, Professor Andrew McMahon, who was ultimately selected by the company to discuss a potential collaboration.

Dr. Liu-Michael summarized the current state of this collaboration: “We have set up a meeting with the company to further discuss the details, and we are pleased with the level of mutual respect between the company and USC Stem Cell.”

Since these two successes, USC has also submitted proposals in response to Discover campaigns from Almirall, S.A. and has faculty members working on proposals in response to UCB Pharma.

Dr. Liu-Michael was initially introduced to IN-PART when she was approached by the Discover team about an academic at the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research, who had been identified as being particularly relevant to a Discover request for proposals (RFP) campaign. Dr. Liu-Michael summarized her thoughts on this initial interaction and her ongoing dialogue with the Discover team: “Even with extensive outreach effort, it is hard to identify matching needs between industry and academia, so it was refreshing to see a campaign such as this. I now receive a weekly summary of Discover campaigns and target specific faculty members when I think a campaign could be of interest to them. The process for engaging with Discover is very clear, and the application proposal templates aren’t too lengthy. It certainly helps that the funding amounts made available through Discover are very reasonable.”

Dr. Liu-Michael added: “Discover provides me with a convenient, centralized stream of funding and collaboration opportunities for USC Stem Cell, helping me promote and showcase our institution’s excellent research and expertise. It’s been particularly good at bringing in companies who we haven’t heard of, or wouldn’t have engaged with otherwise.”