Academic CRO/Industrial Collaborations in Drug Discovery (Track)


Robert Craig Deininger

Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes, Florida Hospital, USA


The Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes (TRI) is the product of an innovative affiliation between Florida Hospital and The Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. The mission of the TRI is to extend and improve the quality of lives through the conduct of world-class, innovative translational research that leads to discoveries - and ultimately cures- for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. The Translational Research Institute for Metabolism and Diabetes (TRI) is a partnership with Florida Hospital that serves as a bridge between basic discovery research and patient-oriented research. The TRI is hastens the discovery and development of new approaches to diagnose, prevent, and treat diabetes, obesity and their cardiovascular complications. The TRI brings together the complementary strengths of Florida Hospital's large patient base and clinical/translational research expertise, and Sanford-Burnham's basic science prowess and advanced research technologies. The organizational synergy is bolstered by a shared disease focus at the Hospital's Diabetes Institute and Sanford-Burnham's Diabetes and Obesity Research Center. Under the leadership of Steven Smith, M.D., Scientific director of the TRI, the focus is on clinical translational research in prevalent and preventable metabolic diseases. By aligning patient-oriented research with metabolic profiling research, scientists will broaden their understanding of individual variations in disease and, in turn, foster the development of effective new diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic approaches. The integration of newfound biomarkers into clinical practice will revolutionize healthcare delivery, with potential for enormous medical, social, and economic impact. The TRI bridges the typical silos of clinical and laboratory research in order to translate fundamental biomedical discoveries and technologies, and implement specific treatment strategies to deliver care in a manner that is tailored to the individual patient. Translational research is the bidirectional flow of information between "bench" and "bedside" to ultimately assess the relative merits of an innovative disease target or a novel disease modifying agent in patients. TRI scientists working directly with patients make pivotal observations about disease processes and provides blood and tissue samples from highly characterized patients to our collaborators in a collaborative two-way interaction. Metabolomics, genomics, and proteomics technology platforms facilitate the success of our partnerships. These technologies are also employed in the molecular phenotyping of patient samples who participate in clinical research at the TRI. Profiling metabolites, genes, and proteins will identify biomarkers that serve as signatures of health and disease, identify new therapeutic targets, and provide additional guidance on the subclassification of diabetes. Sanford-Burnham's ability to engage in cutting-edge pre-clinical research using mouse models of diabetes, obesity, and heart disease enables researchers to test hypotheses which are drawn from observations in patient-oriented research. Mouse models of different diseases, such as heart failure, for example, can be used to discover and develop diagnostic biomarkers, and metabolomics analysis will help determine if a patient's heart failure is more related to diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart attack. The TRI is ideally designed to foster Industry partnerships and collaborations as a part of a balanced translational research portfolio. On December 25th, 2010, TRI and Sanford- Burnham Medical Research Institute signed a two-year collaboration with Takeda Pharmaceuticals to identify and validate biomarkers and discover novel targets for obesity pharmacotherapy. Partnerships like these are a significant source of focus in the future.

Keywords: Translational research, diabetes, obesity, partnerships.