TDA supports ideas for new therapies

What if all academic researchers had the time, the money and the expertise to turn their promising discoveries into life-saving drugs? A new unit initiated by the University of Zurich, the Therapy Development Accelerator (TDA), aims to bring excellence in translational medicine and to support researchers developing new therapies.

The TDA is looking for discoveries or ideas that have the potential to become a therapy for patients with a high unmet medical need. Projects can be submitted by anybody affiliated with the Zurich academic and hospital setting.

The TDA brings projects to the next major milestone in their development, such as pre-clinical proof-of-concept or first-in-human study. Because complexity, costs and risks of drug development might scare or discourage researchers, the TDA provides specific and tailored support throughout the process. The new unit consists of a group of experts in drug and business development from industry and academia and provides upcoming entrepreneurs with expertise and resources such as funding, project management and laboratory infrastructure.

The team will carefully evaluate all the projects submitted and then offer long-term support to the most promising ones after a review by its Portfolio Committee constituted of internal and external experts.

The Therapy Development Accelerator is an initiative of Wolfgang Knecht (Managing Director of the ZNZ) and Roland Martin (Neurology Clinic, University Hospital Zurich) and part of the UZH Innovation Hub. Roch Ogier (MD, PhD), and Claire Bonal (MD, PhD) joined the TDA this year from the pharma industry and form the core team that will support the projects.

“Not all researchers are expected to become an entrepreneur. It is indeed important that a majority of them continue outstanding basic research”, says Roch Ogier, Head of TDA. “But it is essential that a discovery with a high potential to become a therapy is developed further. TDA will make sure that the team, structure and environment are in place to maximize chances of success. Researchers are encouraged to find someone in their team with an entrepreneurial spirit who wants to drive the project further, for example by founding a spin-off for which they can act either as a co-founder or as an advisor, or simply decide to continue to focus on their own research.”

For more information see the TDA website