A robust innovation alliance in oncology
July 2013
by Kelsey Kaustinen  |  Email the author


SAN FRANCISCO—Onyx Pharmaceuticals Inc. and University of California, San Francisco's (UCSF) Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center have announced an umbrella public-private partnership dubbed the Oncology Innovation Alliance. Although several areas of interest have already been identified, the specific research and projects the alliance will pursue won't be solidified until the end of the summer. Because the nature of the partnership is quite broad, it is difficult even for its participants to predict with certainty the projects on which it will focus first. The collaborators have, however, announced that the partnership will focus on the discovery and development of novel therapies and their potential role in treating various types of hematologic cancers and solid tumors.
A joint steering committee consisting of three representatives each from Onyx and UCSF has been selected and met last month to determine the details and goals of the alliance, and to begin looking at proposals. Generally speaking, the alliance will focus on biomarker target discovery, drug discovery and understanding pathways relevant to malignancies in oncology, as well as discussing creative ways to move clinical trials forward efficiently.  
The agreement extends for three years, and financial terms were not disclosed.
"This collaboration will leverage expertise across UCSF and Onyx to further our collective understanding of cancer and hopefully translate scientific research rapidly from the laboratory to the clinic and ultimately to patients," Dr. Pablo J. Cagnoni, executive vice president of global R&D and technical operations at Onyx, said in the media release announcing the formation of the Oncology Innovation Alliance. "The UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is a recognized leader in oncology research and patient care, and Onyx is committed to forming strategic alliances that encourage innovation and the advancement of new treatments for patients."  
The partnership between Onyx and UCSF developed out of a longstanding history of interaction and cooperation. The two San Francisco-based entities have worked together informally in the past, and have undertaken several research collaborations together. One of Onyx's founders, Dr. Frank McMormick, is now director of the USCF Cancer Center. Both parties were attracted to the prospect of a broad-ranging collaboration aimed at addressing the full continuum of cancer care that is central to the expertise at both Onyx and UCSF.  
"In light of our belief at Onyx in the importance of public/private partnerships, we wanted to make sure we secured a broad collaboration and not just a one- off," says Danielle Bertrand, senior manager of public affairs at Onyx Pharmaceuticals. "We were attracted to this style of partnership with UCSF because of our shared belief that the best way to advance science and accelerate treatments is by working together."
"One advantage to partnering broadly in this way is that you've essentially gotten the paperwork part of it out of the way," says Dr. Stephanie Robertson, alliance director and director of strategic development in the Office of Innovation, Technologies & Alliances at UCSF. "You've got the legal side already worked out, so you're able to move projects more quickly into the research or trials you want to do. It makes the process easier."
Onyx Pharmaceuticals is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of innovative cancer therapies and novel medicines targeting key molecular pathways.   
UCSF is dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions and excellence in patient care. It is among the world's top recipients of U.S. biotechnology patents and has consistently led the University of California system in annual license income, total patents and total licenses. UCSF has a wide variety of research partnerships with companies in pharmaceuticals, biotech, high-tech and other innovative industries.
Code: E071327

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