Technology development

Harvard University, AbbVie… | Harvard Technology Development Office

Cambridge, Mass. and North Chicago, Illinois – August 25, 2020 – Harvard University and AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) today announced a $30 million collaborative research alliance, launching a multi-pronged effort to Harvard Medical School (HMS) to study and develop new therapies against emerging viral infections, with an emphasis on those caused by coronaviruses and by the viruses that lead to hemorrhagic fever.

This collaboration aims to rapidly integrate fundamental biology into the preclinical and clinical development of novel therapies for viral diseases that address a variety of therapeutic modalities. HMS led several large-scale, coordinated research efforts launched early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A key part of a strong R&D organization is collaborating with top academic institutions, like Harvard Medical School, to develop therapies for the patients who need them most,” said Michael Severino, MD, Vice chairman and president of AbbVie. “There is a lot to learn about viral illnesses and the best way to treat them. By harnessing the power of collaboration, we can develop new therapies earlier to ensure the world is better prepared for potential future outbreaks.

“The cataclysmic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how vital it is to prepare for the next public health crisis and how essential collaboration is at all levels – between disciplines, between institutions and beyond national borders,” said George Q. Daley, MD, Ph.D., dean of Harvard Medical School. “Harvard Medical School, as the hub of an ecosystem of fundamental discovery and therapeutic translation, is uniquely positioned to propel this transformative research alongside allies like AbbVie.”

AbbVie will provide $30 million over three years and additional in-kind support by leveraging AbbVie scientists, expertise and facilities to advance collaborative research and early-stage development efforts in five areas of program that deal with various therapeutic modalities:

  • Immunity and immunopathology — Study of the fundamental processes that impact the body’s critical immune responses to viruses and identify opportunities for therapeutic intervention.
    Directed by Uli Von Andrian, MD, Mallinckrodt Professor of Immunopathology at the Blavatnik Institute at HMS and Head of the Basic Immunology Program at the Ragon Institute at MGH, MIT, and Harvard; and by Jochen Salfeld, Ph.D., vice president, discovery of immunology and virology at AbbVie.
  • Host targeting for antiviral therapies — Development of approaches that modulate host proteins in order to disrupt the life cycle of emerging viral pathogens.
    Directed by Pamela Silver, Ph.D., Elliot T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology at the Blavatnik Institute at HMS; and by Steve Elmore, Ph.D., vice president, Drug Discovery Science and Technology at AbbVie.
  • Therapeutic antibodies — Rapid development of therapeutic antibodies or biologics against emerging pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2, to preclinical or early clinical stage.
    Directed by Jonathan Abraham, MD, Ph.D., assistant professor of microbiology at the Blavatnik Institute at HMS; and by Jochen Salfeld, Ph.D., vice president, discovery of immunology and virology at AbbVie.
  • small molecules — Discovery and early-stage development of small molecule drugs that would act to prevent the replication of known coronaviruses and emerging pathogens.
    Directed by Marc Namchuk, Ph.D., Executive Director of Therapeutic Translation at HMS and Lecturer in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at the Blavatnik Institute at HMS; and by Steve Elmore, Ph.D., vice president, Drug Discovery Science and Technology at AbbVie.
  • Translational development — Preclinical validation, pharmacological tests and optimization of the main approaches, in collaboration with Harvard-affiliated hospitals, with program leads to be determined.

Media contacts

Abbvie: Adelle Infanta

Harvard Office of Technology Development: Caroline Perry

Harvard Medical School: Ekaterina Pesheva