Michael Blackburn, Ph.D.
Michael Blackburn, Ph.D.

UTHealth entered an alliance with Purdue Pharma to bring academic researchers and drug developers closer together with the common goals of accelerating the development of new drug therapies for patients while advancing the science and providing unique educational experiences. The alliance will promote, develop, and expand research and education in the areas of pain, neuroscience, and other chronic disease.

The alliance will kick off in December 2016 with leaders from UTHealth and Purdue Pharma attending a scientific symposium on UTHealth’s campus. UTHealth researchers will highlight key capabilities, as well as research activities already underway as part of this new alliance. Purdue Pharma will share an overview of capabilities. As part of this long-term partnership, multiple special topics symposia will be organized to create opportunities for scientific exchanges and personal interactions between the organizations.

“There is a long-standing desire and motivation within industry and academia to work together more closely for the benefit of patients,” said Don Kyle, Ph.D., vice president for Discovery Research at Purdue Pharma. “In this alliance, we share a common vision for a new paradigm that will connect researchers across disciplines, lower traditional barriers between industry and academics, and create unique educational experiences for students and trainees in the process.  It is very exciting for us to align in this way with the distinguished faculty, staff, and students at McGovern Medical School.

Melissa Thompson, Ph.D., of UTHealth’s Office of Strategic Industry Initiatives has worked closely with Purdue Pharma to establish this innovative alliance to work together on research that can lead to new product development.

“This new relationship has been structured in a way to cultivate innovation, and will enhance opportunities for drug development and commercialization efforts beyond tradition collaborative models by partnering early on in the discovery process, as well as creating more synergistic collaborations in the preclinical and clinical settings,” said Bruce D. Butler, Ph.D., vice president of Research and Technology at UTHealth.

UTHealth and Purdue Pharma will have opportunities to work together on research that may lead to new product development.

“Industry and academic partnerships like these are important to broaden access to technology, differing perspectives for problem solving, as well as shared risks and rewards,” said Alan W. Dunton, M.D., senior vice president and head of Research & Development at Purdue Pharma. “Our Research & Development team is continually working to understand the pathophysiology of these diseases so we can identify new ways to develop and investigate potential therapies. Working with an institution with the research experience and capabilities of UTHealth will enhance our ability to accomplish this important goal.”

The partnership also includes a new Purdue Pharma Scholar program with funding for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who are conducting research in pain, neuroscience, or other adjacent areas of chronic disease. Purdue Pharma research leaders will work with the Scholars and Scholars may also have the opportunity to visit Purdue Pharma facilities. It is anticipated that Scholars and other affiliated researchers will present their research at an annual Purdue Pharma Research Conference at UTHealth, which will be attended by UTHealth and Purdue scientists and leaders.

“This is a valuable opportunity for UTHealth investigators across our campus to collaborate on projects that will lead to important new discoveries, and we’re excited to partner with Purdue Pharma – a recognized global leader in pioneering research, products, and medical programs,” added Michael Blackburn, Ph.D., executive vice president and chief academic officer at UTHealth. “Including our graduate students and other trainees in this collaborative relationship provides invaluable experiences in research training and the discovery process at UTHealth.”