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Senator Clinton Joins University of Rochester Medical Center and Johnson & Johnson to Announce Research Partnership

Location: Rochester, NY

Senator Clinton Joins University of Rochester Medical Center and Johnson & Johnson to Announce Research Partnership

Rochester, NY A unique fund to nurture research and technologies that have the potential to lead to new health care products is being established at the University of Rochester Medical Center through a partnership with Johnson & Johnson. The Medical Center today announced that a "Discovery Concept Fund" is being created to target promising early-stage research generally conducted by junior scientists who have ideas but often do not have ready access to funding.

"World class biomedical research institutions, such as the University of Rochester Medical Center, are engines of innovation," said Ted Torphy, corporate vice president for science and technology at Johnson & Johnson. "The objective of this partnership is to both support this process of discovery and accelerate the translation of research into products for patients. We believe long-term collaborative partnerships between the academic and the private sector will be increasingly important in advancing breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of serious disease. We share the same fundamental goal of bringing better treatment to patients."

This partnership comes at a time when the University of Rochester Medical Center and other biomedical research institutions are facing significant funding challenges. While the Medical Center has doubled its total research funding over the last seven years to $210 million, $142 million of which came from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the rate of growth has decelerated in recent years due to the leveling off of the NIH budget.

"The Medical Center has made an enormous investment in recent years to expand our research capabilities," said David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D, dean of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. "As we look to the future, we are compelled to seek out private sources of revenue which will enable us to grow our biomedical research enterprises. This partnership will also help us better utilize the talents of our faculty and our research infrastructure to translate innovative discoveries into useful technologies and treatments that can be used by patients around the world."

An example of the potential of this partnership was on display today as it was separately announced that the Medical Center and Johnson & Johnson were moving forward on a $1.6 million joint research project. This project will utilize a process developed by Howard Federoff, M.D., Ph.D, senior associated dean for basic science research at the Medical Center, which can target activity in neurons that prevent the repair of the central nervous system following spinal cord injury or trauma to the brain. This application of this process also has the potential to lead to the development of new classes of drugs.

"I want to congratulate University of Rochester Medical Center and Johnson & Johnson on this partnership announcement and on the creation of the Discovery Concept Fund. This is an incredible gift, not only to UMRC, but to the entire biomedical research community and to the Greater Rochester region," said Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who joined with officials from the University of Rochester Medical Center and Johnson & Johnson for today's announcement. "It is also a great example of what we can achieve when academia and industry work together - further enhancing Rochester's reputation as a world-class center for biotechnology research, fostering a new generation of scientists and building on the region's growth potential. I look forward to watching this winning partnership thrive."

Discovery Concept Fund

The Discovery Concept Fund will be jointly administered by Johnson & Johnson and the University of Rochester Medical Center and will be funded on a renewable basis by Johnson & Johnson.

"Johnson & Johnson is committed to supporting biomedical institutions, as demonstrated by the $50 million in grants we have awarded researchers in the last twenty years," said Torphy. "The University of Rochester Medical Center is one of a few select partners for the Discovery Concept Fund. Based on the quality of their science and an environment for collaboration and entrepreneurship, the only limit in our relationship that I can see will be the amount of innovation that its scientists can produce."

The fund will solicit proposals from Medical Center scientists with the objective of nurturing early-stage research and technologies that have the potential to impact health care. In doing so, it will target researchers, particularly junior scientists, who often have difficulty competing with their more established colleagues for research grants. Johnson & Johnson has stated that it will not limit the number of meritorious applications it will fund.

"This agreement is truly mutually beneficial," said Guzick. "A major problem faced by industry is access to new concepts or novel approaches that lay the foundation for new medical breakthroughs. On the flip side, scientists who have a concept or idea that could provide a solution to a specific problem often lack funding to evaluate and advance their research."

The fund will be governed by a committee consisting of equal members from both the Medical Center and Johnson & Johnson. The committee will oversee the administration of the fund including the solicitation, evaluation and funding of research proposals. Awards will consist of what is termed "no rights" grants. In other words, Johnson & Johnson will have no special rights to any discoveries or patents that arise from research supported by the agreement. All intellectual property rights to the discoveries will be retained by the Medical Center and its inventors.

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