The University of Queensland (UQ) and Pfizer today launched a new partnership to help advance new drug discovery in Australia.

The collaboration with UniQuest, the main commercialisation company of UQ, is part of Pfizer’s Centres for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI) programme and encourages collaboration between Pfizer and UQ researchers with the aim of speeding the process of drug discovery and development.

The agreement provides UQ researchers with access to Pfizer’s industry-leading biologics (antibody, peptide and protein) drug discovery and development capabilities.

UQ Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) Professor Robyn Ward said the alliance would enable collaboration between UQ researchers and Pfizer, with the aim of speeding drug discovery and development.

“The agreement combines UQ’s research excellence with Pfizer’s extensive drug discovery and development experience, technology and resources,” Professor Ward said.

“It offers new opportunities to develop effective treatments for challenging medical conditions that affect people around the world.

“UQ has considerable strength and commitment in therapeutic research, and this agreement is another example of our strategic approach to expanding capability and expertise that is closely aligned with industry priorities.”

The CTI program is a unique model for academic-industry collaboration, designed to bridge the gap between early scientific discovery and its translation into new medicines.

There are currently 23 CTI partnerships established with universities and medical research institutions around the world. The UQ partnership is only the second CTI partnership established outside of the US.

Pfizer Australia Chairman and Managing Director David Gallagher said the company was proud to be linked with a research institution as reputable as UQ.

“Research and development partnerships are an important part of delivering on Pfizer’s mission to discover treatments for the most challenging diseases of our time,” Mr Gallagher said.

“UQ is home to some of the best and brightest research minds in the country and there is so much we can learn by working together.”

He said the aim of the partnership was to accelerate translational research projects and advance them from the lab to clinical trials.

Pfizer’s CTI founder and Chief Scientific Officer Dr Anthony Coyle said the program, launched in 2010, was a unique model for academic-industry collaboration.

“It aims to bridge the gap between early scientific discovery and its translation into new medicines,” Dr Coyle said.

“The ultimate goal is to identify validated drug candidates from institutions of research excellence and develop them through to clinical testing.”

UniQuest chief executive Dr Dean Moss said the partnership reflected the value of UQ’s industry engagement strategy.

“This further emphasises UQ’s commitment to building industry relationships and our desire to translate world class biology into potential treatments for unmet medical needs,” Dr Moss said.

UQ is an international research leader in a comprehensive range of disciplines, including the biosciences, nanotechnology, sustainable development and social science.

In partnership with government, industry and donors, and complementing the research activity in its six Faculties, UQ has developed nine globally recognised research institutes and more than 100 Research Centres.

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