Accelerating Breakthrough Discoveries into Medicines

Breakout Year

Alison Simmons, MD, PhD

Alison Simmons, MD, PhD, is the first physician-scientist outside of the U.S. to earn drug-development support from the Harrington Discovery Institute. A 2014 agreement with the University of Oxford made the initiative an international one.

“Even those of us who are the most optimistic about the Harrington Discovery Institute’s promise were delightfully surprised at how far it advanced in 2014,” said its Director, Jonathan Stamler, MD. University Hospitals, Dr. Stamler and the philanthropic family of Ron and Nancy Harrington founded the Harrington Discovery Institute in 2012. It began with $50 million from the Harringtons and a dream: to accelerate the development of new drugs from concept to marketplace.

Among the big 2014 news:

  • The Harrington Discovery Institute went international with the Oxford agreement. Crohn’s researcher Alison Simmons, MD, PhD, is the first Oxford-Harrington Scholar.
  • Ohio Third Frontier, the state’s leading-edge economic development agency, pledged up to $25 million to help the Harrington Discovery Institute launch Ohio biotech firms.
  • The Foundation Fighting Blindness and its Chair, Gordon Gund, joined with the Harrington Discovery Institute to create the National Center for Excellence in Fighting Blindness, a Gund-Harrington Initiative based at UH. It will provide $50 million to support up to 30 physician-scientists doing research toward treatments for blindness.
  • Physician-scientists receiving Harrington Discovery Institute support launched the initiative’s second and third biotechnology firms.

The nonprofit Harrington Discovery Institute now supports more than 30 physician-scientists around the country with development grants. Its Innovation Support Center connects them to Harrington Discovery Institute’s own pharma team of expert drug developers. And they can seek further support from BioMotiv, a mission aligned for-profit business accelerator that launches companies for HarringtonScholars. Together under the umbrella of The Harrington Project for Discovery & Development, these components represent a $250 million commitment to advancing breakthrough discoveries into new medicines for patients.

“We had a great year of achieving goals in 2014,” said Mr. Harrington. “Yet there is much work left to be done. With so many patients waiting for help, we have to keep improving.”

Jonathan Stamler, MD, is the Robert S. and Sylvia K. Reitman Family Foundation Distinguished Chair in Cardiovascular Innovation at UH Cleveland Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, and Director of the Institute for Transformative Molecular Medicine at UH Cleveland Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.