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Deerfield and Empire Discovery Institute Partner to Advance Life Sciences R&D in Rochester, Buffalo

Deerfield Management Company, a healthcare investment firm, and Empire Discovery Institute (EDI) have established a research partnership to accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries into new therapies.  Through a newly launched company, Empire-Deerfield Discovery & Development (ED), Deerfield expects to invest up to $65 million over the next five years.

EDI is a non-profit New York drug discovery and development accelerator created to transform important academic discoveries into new medicines for commercialization by providing funding, strategic support, and pharmaceutical development expertise.   The Institute, which is supported by $35.4 million in funds from Empire State Development, works in partnership with research labs at the University of Rochester, the University at Buffalo, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

ED3 funding and support are expected to be made available for projects evaluated by EDI and Deerfield in high-need therapeutic areas, as well as those targeting patients who suffer from hard-to-treat and rare diseases, to accelerate them towards clinical validation in patients and commercialization.  ED³ will accept proposal submissions on a rolling basis beginning this May.

“EDI was founded to help overcome the key challenges often faced by life science researchers in academia, namely a lack of external funding to advance pre-clinical development and access to pharmaceutical industry expertise to advance programs in an efficient manner to the clinic,” said Martin Graham PhD, CEO of the Empire Discovery Institute.  “Our partnership with Deerfield will enable us to accelerate our mission to identify medically important targets for human disease to facilitate the creation and development of novel, highly differentiated new therapeutics.”

“We are deeply grateful to New York State for their ongoing support for the Empire Discovery Institute,” said Mark Taubman, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center.  “The new investment by Deerfield will strengthen this unique partnership between research institutions in Rochester and Buffalo, help accelerate the process of bringing new drugs to market, and position Western New York and the Finger Lakes as a hub for life sciences research.”

“Governor Cuomo and Empire State Development are dedicated to ensuring New York State is at the forefront of life science research and commercialization,” said Empire State Development Acting Commissioner, and President and CEO-designate Eric Gertler. “The Administration’s investment in the sector, including its support of EDI, helps promote and facilitate dynamic public private partnerships, like ED3, which further enhances New York’s leadership in the life science field.”

Graham, who was appointed Chief Executive Officer of EDI in April 2019 after a national search, has more than 30 years of experience in the drug development field with both start-ups and large pharmaceutical companies.  Graham has assembled a highly experienced Scientific Advisory Board with extensive pharmaceutical drug discovery and development expertise from leading life science companies such as Merck, Janssen, Centocor, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Sanofi, Schering- Plough, and GSK, among others.  Adam Tulgan serves as EDI’s Chief Operating Officer.  In March, EDI hired seasoned pharmaceutical executive Ronald Newbold to serve as Chief Business Officer.

Last year, EDI announced $4.5 million in funding for its first cohort of recipients under the Institute’s Medicines Discovery Award Program, which included University of Rochester research programs in wound healing and nonsense mutations. Applications for the 2021 round of the Medicines Discovery Award Program is expected to open in the summer of 2021. 

Mark Michaud

(585) 273-4790

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