Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium: A Collaborative Model between Government, Academia and Industry

Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium: A Collaborative Model between Government, Academia and Industry

Laboratories in academia and industry often work independently, but recently, a coalition of academic researchers, pharmaceutical companies and state governments announced the formation of the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium. The $1.75 million partnership intends to fundamentally shift the neurological disease research.

Founders of this new project recognized that a highly collaborative and coordinated effort must be made to unravel the many complexities of diseases of the brain, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, a task far too great for any single organization or laboratory.

This new model appears to overcome an important barrier – namely, more cooperation – and the founding pharmaceutical members, Merck, Pfizer, Abbot, Biogen, Sunovion, Janssen and EMD Serono, are committed to working with each other and with the Massachusetts academic community.

“In our community, this is a breakthrough. These companies are going to get together in the same room, ask the same questions and have the same discussions together,” said Adrian Ivinson, director of the Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center, who helped launch the initiative.

The Consortium will fund pre-clinical neuroscience research at Massachusetts academic and research institutions. In July of 2013, the The Consortium announced the first round awardees under the Consortium including three grants focused on Alzheimer’s disease, two grants focused on neuropathic pain, and one grant each focused on Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

The Consortium funding is focused on chronic and debilitating neurological diseases. Examples of proposals might include research that:

  • Confirms or refutes the involvement of a particular pathway or mechanism in human disease;
  • Identifies new molecular targets, or strengthens the case for a potential target, or rules out a suspected target;
  • Establishes new and improved animal models of human disease in the identified focus areas, with established face and/or construct validity;
  • Develops a method for manipulating or measuring a pathway of known human pathological relevance; or
  • Identifies or validates a biomarker than can be used for drug discovery and/or development.

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Source: Cover Image: Alzheimer’s neurons tangles, bundles. Image showing neurons in the human brain, the axons, dendrites and the synapses. Author: National Institute on Aging, NIH. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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