In what Jefferson's executive leadership calls a "landmark" step, the University and SmithKline Beecham (SKB) have entered into a contractual relationship aimed to enhance the future of clinically based research.
"The positive implications of Jefferson's agreement with SmithKline Beecham are many, and they are vast," says Joseph S. Gonnella, MD, Senior Vice President and Dean, Jefferson Medical College (JMC), in making the announcement.
"Not only is there an immediate and near-term benefit of significant dollar amounts committed to Jefferson research efforts, there are huge longer-term potential benefits for both patients and physicians alike," says Dean Gonnella.
Dean Gonnella has asked Gerald Litwack, PhD, Associate Dean for Scientific Affairs, JMC, to direct the advancement of this effort on the Jefferson campus. A year ago, Dean Gonnella appointed Dr. Litwack to lead Jefferson's effort to increase clinical trials activity to help ensure our future as a leading academic medical research center.
The agreement with SKB came about from meetings with William Claypool, MD, SKB's Senior Vice President for Clinical Research, Development and Medical Affairs. Jefferson's goal of expanding clinical trials activity paralleled a newly widened search by SKB for leading medical centers to partner with in an expanded program of drug development.
"The SKB agreement marks a major commitment by the University to partnering with industry for drug development. The scope and future potential of this agreement probably is a first for Jefferson," Dr. Litwack says.
Dr. Litwack describes key features and benefits of the program:
SmithKline Beecham Academic Partnership
The new "SmithKline Beecham Academic Partnership" which the leading pharmaceutical company invited Jefferson to join currently involves 17 academic medical centers, including Harvard, Duke, Johns Hopkins, University of California at San Francisco, Mount Sinai (New York), Baylor, Washington University, Northwestern as well as Jefferson and the University of Pennsylvania.
The program stresses development of emerging new drugs in a wide variety of areas. Many new drugs are in development for such diseases as asthma, inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular illnesses, neurological diseases and diabetes.
Clinical trials must be of a very high quality, with time lines for completion comparing one university partner with the others to achieve optimum trial results.
New SKB Research Grants to Jefferson
SKB will provide Jefferson from $250,000 to $1 million each year in clinical research grants.
In addition, SKB will be awarding an annual two-year Faculty Research Grant to stimulate interest by younger physicians in clinical research. The first $100,000 grant is to David L. Fischman, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Cardiology Division.
A $25,000 renewable grant has been awarded for pharmacy activities related to cardiology research.
Dovetails with TJU Research Mission and Activities
The advent of the SKB program neatly coincides with Jefferson's mission to increase clinical research activity. This fiscal year, our activity in clinical research is expected to increase by about $5 million.
Many investigators at Jefferson already have a track record of very successful completion of clinical trials with SKB and other companies. The new SKB program offers opportunity to broaden the base of these investigators at Jefferson.
In addition to SKB, Jefferson has had a longstanding relationship with Merck & Co. Inc. Recently Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc. has made a similar major commitment. These activities are conducted through Jefferson's new Clinical Research Center based in the Hospital and directed by Scott Waldman, PhD, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director, Division of Clinical Pharmacology, and Robert L. Capizzi, MD, Magee Professor and Chairman of the Department of Medicine.
The increased clinical trial activity brings out a need for support resources at Jefferson to facilitate the efforts of principal investigators.
The partnership program with SmithKline Beecham takes the University a giant step toward realizing a goal of doubling our clinical research efforts.
Now, a year later, Dr. Litwack says, "It was our good fortune that our goals paralleled those of SKB. The timing could not have been better."