Stanford, UCSF launch drug-development partnership

New center to focus on research, medication improvement and innovation

As part of a new Food and Drug Administration-funded partnership, Stanford University and the University of California at San Francisco will open a new center to study drug development, with the goal of spurring innovation and improving medication safety, the universities have announced.

The UCSF-Stanford Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science will bring together top scientists from both universities, along with FDA partners, to conduct research and run a range of education and scientific exchange programs, according to a Stanford press release. The programs will focus on three areas: improving preclinical safety and efficacy tests; improving clinical trials and evaluation; and curating data sets to "accelerate and improve new drug development," the release states.

The collaborative center's initial funding has come in the form of a $3.3 million grant from the FDA. The center, which will be based at UCSF, will support FDA efforts to evaluate and approve safe and effective medications, the release states. It will also be managed by the FDA'S Office of Regulatory Science and Innovation.

The release also refers to the unique timing of the center's creation. The pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries are increasingly turning to quantitative pharmacology, or informatics and data-driven computer models, to improve these fields and help develop new drug therapies that are safer, more precise and have fewer side effects.

"Data on drug action at all levels, from molecular to population, is exploding and requires sophisticated computational integration to fully understand it," said Russ Altman, professor of bioengineering, of genetics and of medicine at Stanford, and director of the university's biomedical informatics training program. "We are bringing together the best minds in therapeutics, genetics and computational sciences to transform how drugs are made and how we assess whether they're safe or not."

Altman and Kathy Giacomini, professor and chair of bioengineering and therapeutic sciences at UCSF and co-chair of its Center for Quantitative Pharmacology, have been named the center's co-principal investigators.

Elena Kadvany

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Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community
on May 18, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Excellent news.

Like this comment
Posted by SF/PA bi-resident old-timer
a resident of Stanford
on May 19, 2014 at 10:14 am

Collaboration/cooperation, not earlier competition, between these two extraordinary academic centers at opposite ends of the Peninsula is true synergy given their different strengths but common interest, with the computational tech/engineering richness of UC Berkeley/Santa Cruz mixed in. Tiny Silicon Valley will over the next generation morph into broad Biotech Bay, creating a regional powerhouse of 3D innovation -- drugs, devices, and data. Equally important is our world-class commercial sector, with venture capital enabling a bridge between. The regulatory element here, representing the patient's interest, is the third leg on the stool that balances the others. The current focus on disease (diagnosis and treatment) will in turn morph to health (preventative, predictive measures), with the multi-disciplines of this combined powerhouse eventually turning to food, nutrition, environment, psychosocial and cultural determinants of human life and happiness. We have come a long way from our local roots in WWII (military and public health hospitals, high power vacuum tubes, seeds of semiconductors, big antenna wireless, and HMO predecessors). As we continue to morph, one can only dream what comes next. Youngsters -- carry on!

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