Drug development is a complex and resource-intensive process, with few academic institutions able to provide its translational researchers with the all the necessary infrastructure and resources to advance promising targets or early-stage molecules to validation. We propose to create an Exchange Marketplace – a framework in which a university can offer its unique capabilities and core resources in drug development in exchange for those that are not readily available on that particular campus. We propose to utilize the UC BRAID (Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration & Development) network and the Drug and Device Discovery and Development (D4) workgroup within BRAID to engage the five participating UC campuses of BRAID into the Marketplace.
A recent summit of the BRAID D4 workgroup in April 2013 made it clear that no single campus has all the necessary core resources to do drug development in-house. The summit also helped identify some of unique drug development infrastructure and core resources on each of the D4 campuses which can be shared via the Marketplace. For example, UCSF leads the group with a state-of-the-art small molecule screening facility and medicinal chemistry capability (SMDC), while UCSD can contribute access to its unique marine natural products library. UCD can contribute its GMP manufacturing facility and UCLA its GLP Toxicology facility – such facilities are not available at any other D4 campus. These aforementioned facilities are meant to be representative examples of unique resources on each campus, but they demonstrate the increased breadth of capabilities that immediately opens up to the research community once the campuses agree to the exchange.
We propose that each campus contributes a chosen $ amount of services, linked to specific cores, to be offered to other campuses. In return, each campus will be eligible to receive the amount of services on the marketplace equal to its contribution. A process will be set up to issue the awards (in the form of services) to the investigators of the participating campuses. The awards can be issued through a multi-campus RFP process, with a review team comprised of representatives from each campus. Alternatively, each campus can conduct its own evaluation of proposals and recommend projects to receive the awards.
Exchange Marketplace for drug development resources brings together and leverages the strengths and capabilities of each of the participating institutions. It provides the research community with the knowledge of the types of services available on sister campuses. It can seed collaborations between researchers across campuses. Exchange Marketplace can offer pre-negotiated rates on a fee-for-service model, removing the IP roadblocks to collaborations. A planning grant through the Big Tent Open Proposal mechanism could allow us to evaluate the feasibility of establishing such marketplace, gathering campus-level support from the participants, and refining the list of cores and facilities interested in participating in the program.
The recent Institute of Medicine review of CTSA programs strongly emphasizes a need to engage in substantive and productive collaborations as well as develop and disseminate research resources while focusing and leveraging on individual CTSA institution’s strengths. The Exchange Marketplace does precisely that by linking the resources of the 5 BRAID participants (UCSF, UCD, UCLA, UCI, UCSD) and making them available to the research community. Once the program is established and successful, this platform can be extended to other areas of research and development (e.g. Device development) and/or to other institutions. Initially, however, we believe that the network comprising the BRAID D4 provides a powerful foundation for establishment of the program.
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