Monday, August 6, 2012

Interested in engaging with a medical venture philanthropy but not sure where to start? Try here

Forward-thinking philanthropic funders of disease research can play an absolutely critical role in stimulating medical progress, particularly in under-resourced areas, and helping to bridge the Valley of Death. Free of external pressures, nonprofit foundations are ideally positioned to make relatively high-risk investments that could significantly move a field of research forward and increase the likelihood that other parties also will invest.

Today FasterCures launched a first-of-its-kind resource designed to help potential collaborators better understand the landscape of nonprofit disease research foundations and engage in meaningful partnerships with them. The Research Acceleration and Innovation Network (TRAIN) Inventory is a free, Web-based index that catalogues the operational and partnering practices of over 50 leading nonprofits that find and fund cutting-edge medical research.

As the medical research community continues to explore new business models, we can all learn from the approaches these organizations have taken to speed innovation. Our goal is to amplify what they’ve done, share what they’ve learned, and help those interested in engaging them determine how best to connect.  The Inventory  succinctly provides information crucial to understanding and working with over 50 of the most impactful foundations in this space.

With downloadable profiles for every organization that participates in FasterCures’ TRAIN initiative, the Inventory uses a common set of metrics to outline and compare each organization’s research portfolio, collaboration efforts, financials, and more. It also highlights the great medical advances these organizations have fostered over the years, often in collaboration with partners from other sectors.

For example, did you know . . .
  • Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF), through a partnership with Onyx Pharmaceuticals, provided the clinical trial support and resources necessary to develop the first new treatment for multiple myeloma in five years, Kyprolis. Trials conducted through MMRF’s Research Consortium are opened an average of 60 percent faster than the industry average.
  • The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) has granted more than $51 million to fund more than 370 Alzheimer’s drug discovery programs and clinical trials in academic centers and biotechs in 18 countries.
  • A collaboration between the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation (CFF) and Vertex Pharmaceuticals brought about the cystic fibrosis drug Kalydeco, which received FDA approval in January 2012. CFF provided funding, information about the patient population, and helped recruit patients for clinical trials.
  • Through a partnership between the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center, the Center’s clinical trials program is currently running more than 50 active clinical trials for advanced and rare cancers.
  • The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) for Parkinson’s Research engaged 3,000 volunteers across 20 countries in studies to speed development of LRRK-2 related therapies for Parkinson’s disease. 
  • Thanks to Autism Speaks’ advocacy efforts, 29 states have enacted autism insurance reform laws.
These are just a few examples of model practices among our TRAIN groups. To learn more about them and the other organizations in the network, check out our inventory – and pass it on!

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