Building a Better R&D Model, Lets Work Together

Does the model for R&D need to change for the industry? Last week I wrote a post responding to the Chicago Crain’s article ‘Not Invented Here’, is Killing Chicago R&DThe article proposed more local corporate investment into University research as a means to increase their product pipeline. But to bring products to market faster, that model needs to be expanded to include a few other players. What needs to be done is develop R&D networks focused on specific therapy needs.

 R&D Networks Def.: Partnering to accelerate access to new innovative therapies innovators in academia, investment, biopharma companies and governmental agencies working together in real-time, and finding new ways to deploy their strengths to solve serious medical challenges that no one actor can solve alone. Dispersing the risk and reward between the partnership and designed to expedite the pace of innovation and increase the system’s overall productivity.

Below, I have mapped out a crude example R&D network focused on a therapeutic for Alzheimer’s (as an example).

So what is currently and can be done to improve this process?  Pfizer seems to be paving the new model for R&D.

Pfizer recently announced a $58 million collaboration with The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Therapeutics.  They are also working to rewire how translational science is done through their Centers for Therapeutic Innovation (CTI), a groundbreaking program which brings Pfizer scientists with expertise in drug development to work alongside academic scientists with deep biological insights, with a goal of accelerating the translation of discoveries into treatment. And they also have The Pfizer Incubator, which offers scientist-entrepreneurs an opportunity to bring their medical innovations to patients. Scientist-entrepreneurs contribute innovative ideas and the ability to solve complex scientific and technical challenges, while Pfizer provides all necessary resources to move ideas forward into practice. If the idea is proven and is ready to be commercialized, it can be incorporated into one of the most powerful life science research, development and marketing infrastructures in the world.

On the public side, There has been a lot of focus by the NIH and FDA to invest and expedite therapies for specific diseases.


At the Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum, keynote speaker Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provided attendees with a dose of good news for Alzheimer’s research during a time when optimism about financial resources may be in short supply. Collins announced — in what he termed a unique step — that he has designated $40 million from his fiscal year 2013 director’s budget for Alzheimer’s research by scientists who recently submitted applications at the request of the National Institute on Aging. In addition, Collins pointed out that President Barack Obama’s FY14 budget would add $80 million for Alzheimer’s research “over and above what’s being supported for any other condition.”


The FDA Fast Track Development Program is a designation of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that accelerates the approval of investigational new drugs undergoing clinical trials with the goal review time of 60 days. Such status is often given to agents that show promise in treating serious, life-threatening medical conditions for which no other drug either exists or works as well.

The piece parts for a comprehensive R&D Partnership model are in place with only a few missing pieces. Mostly investment tax credits for private investors, and depending on the state, state based tax incentives for start up companies. It is also worthwhile to point out that there is some skepticism in patient advocacy groups investing in private R&D. Which is why in my model I didn’t include investments with large corporations. This is of course a “pie in the sky” kind of idea, other than Pfizer’s efforts, would big pharma and Bio really work with such a large network, and who would coordinate this kind of effort?

Maybe we can find a way to work together to increase the efficiency of the R&D process, I hope so.

This is a conversation, not an editorial. Did I forget something, get it wrong or do you agree? Please Comment, Like, Re-Tweet and Share.

Here is a musical accompaniment, related to the title…

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