The FasterCures Track June 2014: Playing well in the consortium sandbox


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We firmly believe that investing in medical research is investing in our future. Medical research offers hope to patients and their families, which is why we need the research system to work better and  faster.

To do this, we need patients as partners – participating in research and sharing the process. At FasterCures, we are determined to pave a path of meaningful engagement among patients and every sector of the medical research enterprise.

Last month, we announced the members of our Benefit-Risk Advisory Council. As we all know, the tradeoffs between desired benefits and tolerable risks may look quite different whether you’re a patient, a physician, a regulator, or a drug/device developer. They also might change over time. This diverse group of experts will help FasterCures foster better methods to elicit and understand dynamic patient perspectives in ways that will be useful to drug developers and regulators. Register for an upcoming Webinar on July 29 about this important issue.

Meanwhile, we have a number of exciting Consortia-pedia project milestones to report. We started the month with the release of the Consortia-pedia Framework Report, a valuable tool for any entity wishing to better understand the research-by-collaboration trend and its impact on the search for cures. And ended the month with a study in Science Translational Medicine that analyzed the characteristics of 369 consortia from around the world.
We all stand to benefit from having an efficient and effective research system. We believe we can get there as long as we have patients as our partners and pursue collaborative approaches to meet shared goals. We look forward to hearing about your collaborative programs – check out the Partnering for Cures innovator presentation call for applications and consider applying for one of 30 slots.


MargaretMargaret Anderson
Executive Director
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Program Highlights

FasterCures has a number of programs focused on bringing efficiency to the medical research process by identifying and eliminating the roadblocks that slow medical research down. This month, we're featuring updates on our Consortia-pedia, Benefit-Risk, and Policy programs.


Getting new medical products from discovery to patients requires all sectors — academia, industry, clinical care, nonprofits, philanthropy, and government — to work together throughout the research and development process. But collaboration is a complex endeavor, and integrating the right partners could make or break an entire field of research. This prompted us to develop the Consortia-pedia project to assess the breadth and scope of approaches that a wide range of consortia have adopted to bring together non-traditional partners with a shared research and development goal. Here are the latest developments on our Consortia-pedia work:

  • Science Translational Medicine June 25 issue coverScience Translational Medicine. A FasterCures study published in the June 25 issue of Science Translational Medicine found that in the past decade there has been a rapid emergence of consortia in biomedical research. The study, Consortium Sandbox, noted that this trend is in response to the growing need for broad-based partnerships to address shared scientific, regulatory, or reimbursement challenges. Mark Lim, associate director of medical innovation at FasterCures and author of the study, analyzed the characteristics of 369 consortia from around the world and found that these efforts provide a safe harbor for participants by guaranteeing transparency and equitable access to any outputs.
  • Consorti-pedia logoConsortia-pedia Framework Report. We released the Consortia-pedia Framework Report, which analyzes a wide range of existing biomedical research consortia to understand the operational tools and metrics used to start and run these complex collaborations.

  • BIOWorld Today logoBioWorld Today. This emerging trend is spotlighted in the article All together: Consortia boom as scientific complexity grows.

  • photo of Maria FreireInnovator Spotlight. To make collaboration happen, we need committed and determined leaders shaping and driving the work to meet the needs of multiple partners. This month, we spotlight the work of Maria Freire, Ph.D., and her team at the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.


FasterCures Benefit-Risk Advisory CouncilFasterCures announced the members of its Benefit Risk Advisory Council, a diverse group of experts who will provide advice and recommendations aimed at expanding opportunities for patient perspectives to shape product development and influence regulatory decisions. The advisory council is comprised of 14 leaders representing varied interests – patient groups, academic institutions, industry associations, and pharmaceutical companies. Read more about FasterCures' efforts to put patients at the center of benefit-risk assessment, in a recent blog post.


21st Century Cures Initiative graphicFasterCures submitted written testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee on the 21st Century Cures Initiative. The testimony outlines FasterCures' perspectives on key principles that must be addressed if we are to achieve a better, faster, more cost-effective path to a cure, such as putting patients at the center of the discovery, development, and delivery process; incentivizing cross-sector collaboration throughout the R&D process; encouraging novel financial solutions that address R&D's riskiest endeavors; investing in basic and translational research infrastructure; and ensuring sustainable and predictable funding for science agencies.

  • Read our recent blog post of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's bi-partisan 21st Century Cures Initiative's roundtable discussion on how new technology and data can turn our healthcare system into a predictive and integrated care continuum.
R&D Policy page screenshotWhere do you go for the latest news, tools, and resources specifically focused on R&D policy? Check out our coverage of NIH, FDA, value and coverage, policy impact, benefit-risk assessment, and more.

Learn more about FasterCures Programs
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In the News

Nature Medicine LogoALS patients launch drug discovery venture fund
As reported in a Nature Medicine blog post, a management consultant and two other entrepreneurs who have amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) hope to raise $139 million through a new investment fund called Qurit Alliance to invest in biotechnology companies developing ALS treatments. "Crisis breeds creativity," said FasterCures Deputy Executive Director Melissa Stevens. "There has been a lot of monetary pressure on the research community with NIH's purchasing power down by 25 percent in the last decade and U.S. venture capital funding down by 21 percent from 2007 to 2013."

Sci Trans Med coverNew paper examines innovative approach to funding Alzheimer's disease
A paper published in Science Translational Medicine suggests creating a public-private partnership that would fund research for a diverse array of drug-discovery projects simultaneously. Such an approach would increase the chances of a therapeutic breakthrough, the authors say, and the inclusion of public funding would help mitigate the risks and costs of Alzheimer’s research for the private sector. Melissa Stevens, deputy executive director of FasterCures, commented, "There is an urgent need for more creative thinking about and models for financing large, high-risk, long-term investments that could lead to biomedical breakthroughs (including within the biopharmaceutical industry). And we must carefully consider the role the federal government should play to incentivize these novel approaches."

On the Blog

checklist imageFasterCures Senior Fellow Kathi Hanna blogs on measuring progress and success in academic research
For years, policymakers and funding agencies have been asking whether there are metrics that can be used to determine whether our investments of financial and human capital in the research enterprise are wise. Are we supporting the best people with the best ideas at the best institutions to achieve the optimal level of outcomes? And, how do we measure progress or success?

Lung-MAP program graphicBlog summarizes Webinar on exciting example of expanding options for clinical trials
The Lung Cancer Master Protocol (Lung-MAP) trial is a newly opened, multi-drug, targeted screening approach that matches patients with promising new treatments based on their unique tumor profiles. Two days after Lung-MAP first began enrolling patients, FasterCures’ LaTese Briggs moderated a Webinar with three of the trial’s founding partners to discuss the impressively rapid establishment of this potentially transformative public-private partnership.

Tools You Can Use

Apply now for one of 30 innovator presentation spots at Partnering for Cures 2014

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Until next issue
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