Vanderbilt to receive up to $65 million for life science research


Gracie Pitman, Campus Editor

Vanderbilt and Deerfield Management have partnered to launch Ancora Innovation, LLC (Ancora), a Deerfield company that will support Vanderbilt’s life science research. The Ancora launch event took place April 6th.

Through the new company, Deerfield will give up to $65 million for the life science research. The collaboration will help increase Deerfield’s proficiency in drug development. Deerfield is a capital investment company that invests in healthcare opportunities. Deerfield has worked in similar capacity with MIT, Harvard and Johns Hopkins.

Projects will be aimed at changing current drug development methods and speeding up the process by which drug discoveries become disease curing therapies that are widely available.

The projects will be selected by an equal number of Vanderbilt and Ancora representatives on a joint operations committee. Provost and Vice Chancellor Susan Wente will oversee the research, and Padma Raghavan, Vice Provost for Research, will manage the process for developing the projects.

This relationship strengthens the Vanderbilt research mission to improve the quality of human life through discovery and innovation,” Wente said. “Our faculty lead in drug discovery research and Deerfield brings complementary expertise in taking new therapeutics to market. This collaboration can accelerate how we develop new disease-curing therapies.”

Wente noted the importance of breakthroughs in the medical field and made reference to the high-risk, high-reward process.

“Drug discovery research is a high-risk and high-reward area. While it is hard to predict exactly where the breakthroughs may happen, I expect that we will gain new and improved understanding of disease mechanisms, such as for neurodegeneration and cancer,” Wente said. “We have to keep in mind that of the many drug targets that seem promising in early stage research, only a very few translate into therapies and treatments. The excitement here is in enabling discovery and carrying out experiments to test new ideas so that we can accelerate drug development for the most promising compounds.”

A statement released from Vanderbilt notes that profits from the Deerfield Healthcare Innovations Fund, which funds Ancora, will be donated to the Deerfield Foundation and are expected to be used for projects that lack a commercial market, but are necessary for medical innovation.