The Salk Institute signed a strategic alliance agreement with Sanofi-Aventis, establishing a joint program that supports cutting-edge research and promotes an exchange of discoveries focused on scientific advances and therapeutic applications.
For a period of up to five years, the Sanofi-Aventis Regenerative Medicine Program (SARP) will sponsor institute-wide discovery grants in promising research areas that address the organizations' mutual interests. SARP provides for long-term, multiple-participant collaborations between Salk and Sanofi-Aventis scientists – allowing both groups to benefit from each other's specific areas of expertise and potentially develop further partnerships. SARP will also provide unrestricted support for the Institute's stem cell core facility.
"This is a collaborative relationship without restrictive preconditions between two leading organizations," said William R. Brody, president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. "Our scientists will continue to freely explore cutting-edge research and publish their work, with the added benefit of advancing the science through this unique association that provides access to extensive resources at Sanofi-Aventis."
Further collaboration and scientific exchange will be reinforced through annual Salk/Sanofi-Aventis research retreats and extended working lab visits between scientists from both organizations.
"Our goal is to advance scientific knowledge, mostly in stem cell research, and apply major discoveries made under this strategic alliance toward diagnostics or therapies for human disease," said Dr. Marc Cluzel, senior vice president, Research & Development, Sanofi-Aventis. "We believe one way this can be expedited is through a collaborative research agreement in which the talents and expertise from Salk and Sanofi-Aventis are joined in an environment that favors creativity and early access to sciences."
Although Sanofi-Aventis and Salk had previously crossed paths at scientific and business meetings, the introductions between representatives from both organizations was facilitated in part by Stephane Richard, a former postdoctoral Salk researcher who founded French Bio Beach, a San Diego-based networking group created to bridge the French government with local biotech companies and their counterparts in France.
"Salk's culture of openness and collaborative research is an ideal fit with Sanofi-Aventis' philosophy," said Remi Brouard, M.D., vice president, External Innovation, Sanofi-Aventis. "I'm confident this new relationship will bring forth discoveries that will positively serve our mission."
SARP is an innovative win-win model for U.S. researchers and the pharmaceutical industry, according to Marsha Chandler, executive vice president at the Salk Institute. "The arrangement benefits Salk scientists through direct financial support of their research and access to an array of resources that facilitate commercialization of discoveries," she said. "It benefits Sanofi-Aventis through access to top-quality basic science and cross fertilization in complementary areas like stem cell research."