MIAMI – The University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine and Berg, a Boston-based biopharmaceutical company, have entered into a collaborative research and development agreement to share research and data while seeding critical projects in the areas of cancer, metabolic diseases and diseases of the central nervous system.
Berg, co-founded by Miller School of Medicine alumnus Niven R. Narain, has already funded more than $10 million in research grants over the past 10 years. This formalized partnership is expected to increase this value even further and accelerate Miami’s standing as an emerging hub for biotechnology.
Crucial to the deal will be the University of Miami’s access to Berg’s award-winning Interrogative Biology™ discovery platform, which has previously produced clinical and IND-enabling stage therapeutic assets in cancer and metabolic diseases, in addition to diagnostics assets and markers in prostate cancer and heart failure. In turn, Berg will have access to a world-class pool of clinical investigators and researchers, as well as clinically annotated tissue samples in addition to blood, urine, and other samples in which the Miller School of Medicine is enriched, especially given South Florida’s diverse population.
“The future of health will be built on a deeper interface and understanding of how biology and technology works together. Berg has a deep pipeline with targets and disease markers ready for validation and clinical utility,” said Berg Co-Founder, President, and Chief Technology Officer Niven R. Narain. “Together with the University of Miami’s first-rate researchers and diverse tissue samples, we can help catalyze discovery for some of our most challenging and debilitating diseases.”
Additionally, Berg will have the opportunity to fund seed projects and provide critical research and development support to the Miller School of Medicine’s thought leaders in basic science, translational and clinical research to drive a barrier-free and unique academic-industry relationship. In concert, the School will make its expertise and resources available to Berg, and will also fund seed projects that will use Berg technologies to drive innovation from bench to bedside.
“We are living in a time in which the intersection of biology and technology is revealing novel insights into the mechanisms of disease that would have never before been possible,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of UHealth. “Through this collaboration, the University of Miami and Berg are in a unique position to improve the traditional industry-academia relationship, eliminating barriers to free up resources advantageous to both parties and bring meaningful discoveries for improved patient outcomes.”
For example, together the University of Miami and Berg will leverage their combined clinical expertise and research capacity to enter critical markets such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Under the leadership of Goldschmidt, who is recognized as one of the world’s most renowned cardiologists, Berg will partner with the University on a novel marker for heart failure. Additionally, groundbreaking work in diabetes will take place to identify new drug delivery modalities in diabetes, which has the potential to eliminate the need for insulin dependence among diabetic populations.
“Working together with our entrepreneurial faculty and our partners in the Office of Research Administration, the U Innovation team is fully committed to establishing and supporting new partnerships that will accelerate development of promising discoveries. We look forward to working with the Berg Pharma team,” added Norma Kenyon, Ph.D., the Miller School of Medicine’s Chief Innovation Officer and the University of Miami’s Vice Provost for Innovation.
“In biomedical research, it is important to bring discoveries from the laboratory to the patient as quickly as possible. When academic researchers collaborate with industrial scientists, as we will be doing with Berg, it speeds translation to the marketplace. This relationship will also help train our students for research-based careers,” said Sylvia Daunert, Ph.D., Pharm.D., M.S., Professor and Lucille P. Markey Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Associate Director of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute.
According to Narain, Berg’s collaborative relationship with the University of Miami signals an important milestone in the development of Florida as a suitable environment for biotechnology. Even further, he sees this agreement as a promising bridge between Miami and longstanding research hubs like Boston, which can serve as a valuable exchange of healthcare and clinical innovation.
“The world’s best cities are defined by their ability to both educate and innovate, and this partnership only further demonstrates the pivotal role the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine is playing in fueling Florida’s biotech boom,” said Nancy K. Bryan, President & CEO of BioFlorida. “As companies like Berg continue to expand their relationships in the region, we can expect even more investments to be made here in the areas of medical research and drug discovery.”