Closer to Cures

Ancora Innovation collaboration accelerates drug discovery


Vanderbilt University leaders hosted visitors from the health care investment firm Deerfield Management, including its president and managing partner, James Flynn, in early 2023 for a series of events celebrating the ongoing collaboration between Vanderbilt and Deerfield to rapidly advance new therapeutics from the research bench to patients.

“Advancing basic and translational science to develop new therapeutics is imperative to addressing underserved medical conditions,” said William Slattery, partner at Deerfield Management. “Through our collaboration with Vanderbilt and its rich scientific community, we together can get one step closer to finding cures for patients.”

Vanderbilt’s Center for Technology Transfer and Commercialization within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research and Innovation hosted the visit. With the guidance and support of Assistant Vice Chancellor for Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development Alan Bentley and Manager of Corporate Alliances Margaret Read, Deerfield representatives met with faculty and university leadership, including Chancellor Daniel Diermeier, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs C. Cybele Raver and Vice Provost for Research and Innovation Padma Raghavan. They discussed ongoing projects and potential future collaborations and attended a celebratory reception in the Langford Auditorium lobby with attendees from across the university and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

“Our collaboration with Deerfield has already advanced multiple faculty-led projects with strong potential for helping patients in need,” Raghavan said. “Deerfield and Vanderbilt have become trusted partners in this vital endeavor, and we know that the best is yet to come.”

In 2018, Deerfield launched Ancora Innovation LLC, a company wholly owned by Deerfield affiliates to support Vanderbilt’s innovative life-science research with the goal of accelerating the discovery and development of new therapeutics to combat life-altering illnesses. Since then, four Vanderbilt faculty-led projects have been accepted into Ancora with funding and expert resources from Deerfield, including projects to develop novel treatments for dystonia and other movement disorders, opioid use disorders, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and a rare form of epilepsy.

The collaboration between Vanderbilt and Deerfield provides “on-the-job” drug discovery and development training and experience for Vanderbilt staff, postdoctoral scholars and students while increasing the potential for successful outcomes via the Deerfield Discovery and Development (3DC) model. 3DC progresses early-stage therapeutics from scientific discovery through preclinical proof of concept and development based on their strategic partnerships and curated CRO network. Additionally, Deerfield engages with Vanderbilt by sponsoring faculty to attend the Women in Science Translational Symposia, providing speakers and sponsorship for the VICB Annual Symposium, investing in Vanderbilt startup Appello Pharmaceuticals, and providing access to Deerfield’s unique lecture series through the Cure ecosystem.

Learn more about Ancora Innovation here.

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