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Scientific Symposium Celebrates a Decade of Drug Development

Posted on June 09, 2022

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Harrington Discovery Institute celebrated 10 years during its recent virtual Scientific Symposium. At the event held on May 25 and 26, President Jonathan Stamler, MD, and benefactor Ron Harrington looked back on the history of Harrington Discovery Institute and reflected on the bright future ahead. A $50 million transformative gift in 2012 from Ron and Nancy Harrington and their children Jill, Ron and Lydia Harrington, made possible the vision of Dr. Stamler, to support physician-scientists – and later all scientists – in advancing their discoveries into medicines. Harrington Discovery Institute was established as the first academic institute to use a blended non-profit and for-profit model to create new medicines.

“At Harrington Discovery Institute, we do more than talk about being innovative – we implement innovation every day,” said Ron Harrington, Philanthropist and Entrepreneur. “And we do better than just implement alone – we implement with a sense of innovation.”

This unique approach bridges the gap between scientific discoveries that take place in academic science labs with pharmaceutical expertise to advance medicines reaching the bedside of patients. Over the past decade, Harrington Discovery Institute has built a diverse portfolio of discoveries with a strategy of concentrating resources on projects with the best chance of success bringing total wins to include: 162 discoveries; 64 institutions supported; 31 companies launched; 17 medicines in clinical trials; and 13 licenses to pharmaceutical companies.

Harrington Discovery Institute’s impact is strengthened and amplified by partners in our hometown and around the globe including Morgan Stanley GIFT CURES powered by Harrington Discovery Institute, the University of Oxford – partners in the Oxford-Harrington Rare Disease Centre, The American Society for Clinical Investigation, Foundation Fighting Blindness, Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, and the physicians and scientists from academic medical institutes across the US, in Canada and the UK.

Jonathan S. Stamler, MD, President, Harrington Discovery Institute, Robert S. & Sylvia K. Reitman Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Innovation, summarized 2021 accomplishments in each of Harrington’s four Innovation Centers:

  • Center for Major Diseases (including for example lung, heart and cancer), which encompasses the physician-scientist initiative, realized two pharmaceutical company acquisitions in 2021. The first resulting from 2013 Harrington Scholar-Innovator Sanford Markowitz, MD, PhD, Case Western Reserve University, and the second by 2014 Harrington Scholar-Innovator Irina Petrache, MD, Indiana University;
  • Center for Rare Diseases, where 2018 Harrington Rare Disease Scholar Ed Grabczyk, PhD, LSU Health Sciences Center, reached an agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company for technology to treat rare neurological diseases;
  • Center for Brain Health Medicines, where numerous projects progressed to clinical trials, including that of Allyx Therapeutics, an Alzheimer’s-related spin-out of 2020 Harrington Scholar-Innovator Stephen Strittmatter, MD, PhD, Yale University; as well as
  • Center for COVID-19 and Emerging Infectious Diseases, where programs progressed at a rapid pace, resulting in 12 projects funded. Four have advanced to the stage of clinical trial and four are near IND status (meaning clinical trials with patients). One company was formed, and two projects have partnered with pharmaceutical companies.

Dr. Stamler also emphasized Harrington Discovery Institute’s broadened funding sources, including funding from local philanthropists, a growing relationship with Morgan Stanley GIFT Cures, the creation of a seed fund – an internal investment fund to accelerate scholar projects, while working closely with the Advent-Harrington Impact Fund, a leading venture fund committed to the mission of Harrington Discovery Institute.

“We now have a diverse portfolio of discoveries, a financing continuum that spans from philanthropy to venture-investments, greatly improved scholar opportunities, and funders and donors who consider our model differentiated and meaningful,” said Dr. Stamler.

Throughout the two-day virtual symposium, scholar presentations and keynote lectures focused on drug discovery and development, as well a discussion around attracting investment to advance projects into medicines highlighted the importance of Harrington Discovery Institute and its unique approach to making medicines:

Jeffrey Leiden, MD, PhD, Executive Chairman, Vertex Pharmaceuticals served as keynote speaker delivering his presentation, “Discovering Transformative Medicines: The Vertex Innovation Model.”

Andrew Pieper, MD, PhD, Director, Center for Brain Health Medicines, Harrington Discovery Institute Investigator, Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals, Morley-Mather Chair in Neuropsychiatry, facilitated a presentation titled “The Harrington Impact on Alzheimer’s disease: Novel Pathways and Therapies,” featuring two Harrington Scholar projects, as well as Dr. Stamler’s project, that are making progress in advancing treatments and tools in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.

Hossein Ardehali, MD, PhD, Northwestern University, the 2021-2022 President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, introduced the 2022 Harrington Prize co-recipients, James Crowe, MD, Vanderbilt University, and Michel Nussenzweig, MD, PhD, The Rockefeller University, who discussed their breakthrough discoveries which are advancing COVID-19 treatments.

Members of Harrington Discovery Institute’s Investment Advisory Board offered their views on strategies that create a winning value proposition for Harrington Scholars and investigators seeking commercial funding to advance their technologies into the clinic.

Additionally, Harrington scholars shared project updates while emphasizing the critical role Harrington Discovery Institute has played in moving their discoveries toward patients– not only by providing necessary funding, but also providing essential drug development knowledge and guidance.

Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals will continue to invest in breakthrough discoveries and innovation to improve the health and well-being our society – for another ten years and many, many decades to come.

Related Videos

Welcome Address: President Jonathan S. Stamler, MD

Keynote Lecture: Jeffrey Leiden, MD, PhD Executive Chairman, Vertex Pharmaceuticals

Remarks: University Hospitals CEO Dr. Cliff Megerian Reflects on 10 Years of Progress

The Harrington Impact on Alzheimer’s disease: Novel Pathways and Therapies

2022 Harrington Prize Lectures: James Crowe, MD and Michel Nussenzweig, MD, PhD

Scholar Experience Presentations: Rosa Bacchetta, MD, and Marc Wein, MD, PhD

Creating a Value Proposition that Attracts Investment: A Panel with Harrington Investment Advisors

Harrington Scholar Update: V. Vinod Mootha, MD, Precision Medicine for Age-Associated Vision Loss

Harrington Scholar Update: Haiyan Zhou, MD, PhD, Hereditary Nerve Damage Disorder Therapy

Harrington Scholar Update: Jerri Rook, PhD, Novel Therapeutic Strategy to Treat Alzheimer’s Disease

Harrington Scholar Update: Paul Bollyky, MD, PhD, Preventing Autoimmune Diabetes

Harrington Scholar Update: Peng Ji, MD, PhD, New Therapeutics for Blood Cancers