GSK, University of California Collaborate on CRISPR Technologies

June 14, 2019

GSK has revealed that it has entered into a five-year collaboration with the University of California to advance genomic research and improve drug discovery.

In a June 13, 2019 press release, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has revealed that it has entered into a five-year collaboration with the University of California to advance genomic research and improve drug discovery with the establishment of a lab for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) technologies.

The Laboratory for Genomics Research (LGR) will provide a space where both industry and academic researchers can explore how gene mutations cause disease while also developing new technologies using CRISPR for the advancement of drug discovery. The idea of LGR originated from Professor Jennifer Doudna, University of California Berkeley, a co-inventor of CRISPR technology and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator; Professor Jonathan Weissman, University of California San Francisco, a pioneer of CRISPR screening technology and HHMI Investigator; and Dr. Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president, R&D, GSK.

“Technology is key to our innovation strategy at GSK, and CRISPR is one of the most important technologies of our time,” said Barron in a press release. “With the expertise of Jennifer and Jonathan helping to steer the LGR, I am confident the lab will significantly advance our scientific understanding of the relationship between genes and disease to help find better medicines faster.”

“Over the last seven years, CRISPR has transformed academic research, but until the LGR, we haven’t had a focused effort to catalyze the kind of research we know will lead to new innovation using this CRISPR tool,” added Doudna. “LGR is about building that space where creative science is partnered with the development of robust technology that will help develop tomorrow’s drugs. I think we’re going to be able to do science that none of us can even imagine today.”

The lab will receive funding of up to $67 million over the course of five years, which will include facilities for 24 full-time university employees (to be funded by GSK) and 14 full-time GSK employees. The focus for the lab will be on immunology, oncology, and neuroscience, and it will be based in San Francisco, near the Mission Bay campus of the University of California San Francisco.

Any tools that are developed by the lab will be described in published papers, subject to intellectual property provisions, and will be available to other academic and non-profit labs, to maintain the public mission of the University of California. The collaboration will be governed by a joint steering committee that will comprise equal numbers of representatives from both the university and GSK. Additionally, there will be other joint-sub committees to cover patents, scientific, and project management.

Source: GSK