AbbVie, University of Chicago collaborate to advance cancer research

The University of Chicago and AbbVie, a global biopharmaceutical company, have entered into a five-year collaboration agreement designed to improve the pace of discovery and advance medical research in oncology at both organizations.                                    

The joint strategic research agreement between AbbVie and the University of Chicago is designed to encourage and strengthen collaboration among researchers. Initially, both organizations will work together to advance research in several areas of oncology, which could include, among others, breast, lung, prostate, colorectal and hematological cancer. Research projects are chosen by a joint steering committee, composed of representatives from each organization. AbbVie also gains an option for an exclusive license to certain UChicago discoveries made under the agreement.

“University of Chicago researchers and clinicians have worked closely with AbbVie scientists in areas such as immunology and oncology for some time,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago and dean of the Biological Sciences Division and Pritzker School of Medicine. “This agreement adds depth to that established and productive collaboration. The increased level of interaction should speed progress in medical care, beginning with cancer patients.”

As part of the agreement, AbbVie will provide funding for the collaboration that may be used for purposes including preclinical research, clinical trials and possible future programs at the University resulting from this partnership. The overall collaborative efforts will provide UChicago physicians and scientists with the opportunity to participate in AbbVie-sponsored clinical trials, access to new therapies developed by AbbVie for use in preclinical research funded under the collaboration, as well as opportunities to work closely with AbbVie’s research and development teams to promote scientific knowledge exchange.

“Advancements in oncology, both at the basic science and clinical levels, are happening faster and more broadly every day,” said Gary Gordon, vice president of oncology clinical development at AbbVie. “Collaborating closely with the scientists and clinicians at the University of Chicago allows us to expand our own research efforts even further to benefit patients.”

As part of the collaborative agreement, researchers from the University of Chicago and AbbVie will participate in an annual symposium that brings together scientists from both institutions to discuss research and evaluate potential new projects.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for our investigators to join forces with a leader in oncology and new drug development, accelerate the pace of discovery and deliver clinical benefits to our patients,” said cancer specialist Everett Vokes, professor and chairman of medicine at the University of Chicago. “This will support pre-clinical research, give our physician-scientists earlier access to drugs in the AbbVie pipeline and lay the groundwork for further interaction and collaboration.”

AbbVie also holds a membership to the Chicago Innovation Exchange, a hub for multidisciplinary collaborations and support for business startup activities and an observer seat at meetings of the University of Chicago Innovation Fund Advisory Committee, which provides guidance to the Innovation Fund, a $20 million investment fund focusing on commercializing early-stage research and supporting emerging companies at the University. The Innovation Fund is managed by the Chicago Innovation Exchange in partnership with UChicagoTech and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.  

The agreement also provides AbbVie researchers with access to data commons technology developed by the Center for Data Intensive Science at the University of Chicago and the core technical team that is developing the technology. This novel platform powers several large-scale resources for the research community, including the National Cancer Institute Genomic Data Commons—one of the world’s largest storage, analysis and distribution systems for cancer genomics data.

“This collaboration highlights the University’s strengths in clinical and basic research and commitment to translating ideas into real-world solutions,” said Alan Thomas, associate vice president and director of UChicagoTech, which was a critical partner in facilitating this collaboration. “By partnering with corporations that share our interests, we increase the potential for emerging technologies to move to market and provide a framework for researchers and students to engage with their counterparts in the private sector.”