Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE)

Icon_Sun.svg The Road to BIO: Day 12

Monday, June 19, 2017
Featured Sponsor: Emory University
Todd Sherer, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Research Administration & Executive Director of Technology Transfer at Emory University, discusses how Emory's proof-of-concept funds are helping to advance technologies to the point of patentability. Watch the full interview.

Advancing Ideas with Over 1,200 Technologies

Emory University is internationally recognized for its outstanding liberal arts colleges, graduate and professional schools, and its comprehensive health system. Located in Atlanta, the population center of the Southeast, Emory provides $9.1 billion in economic impact within the region and the state. The university has over 28,000 employees, $574 million in sponsored research awards, treats more than 600,000 individual patients annually through Emory Healthcare and has nearly 2,000 hospital beds. There is a lot of innovation going on at Emory, and as we know, innovation drives the biopharmaceutical industry.

Driving Promising Therapeutics to Patients 

As part of our active technology scouting function, we meet with researchers and clinicians to help them identify innovative ideas, making sure they are disclosed to our office. We have several proof-of-concept funds, which are crucial for early-stage technologies, as they help us advance those technologies to a point where they are patentable and licensable. Our office is one of the few in the country with an in-house patent council, which allows us to save costs while aligning our business development and IP protection strategies. We also have combined industry contracting, making us a one-stop-shop for companies looking to sponsor research, source clinical trials or license technology to bolster their product pipelines.

Breaking Ground in Pharmaceutical Science 

We are best known for our success in the HIV drug space. The nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor, emtricitabine, which is licensed to Gilead Sciences, was discovered at Emory, and is currently being sold in around eight different combinations to both treat HIV patients as well as prevent transmission of the disease. Also, the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir was discovered by an Emory start-up company called Pharmasset, which was purchased by Gilead Sciences and is now part of a combination called Harvoni. The drug OBIZUR was also discovered at Emory several decades ago and received approval by Baxalta in 2014 to treat acquired hemophilia.

Innovation Across Industries

It’s hard to compete with the impact our success in the HIV drug space has had on society, but we are also incredibly proud of our numerous other innovations, ranging from recently approved imaging technology to detect recurrent prostate cancer, to a device to deliver magnetic stimulation to treat depression, to a portable telescoping mosquito catcher that was sold all over world at cost to help monitor the spread of insects and disease. 

Looking Forward to a Promising Future 

Emory has its own biopharma company called DRIVE, which stands for Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory. We hired the former president and CEO of Chimerix, George Painter, PhD, to lead this effort, which affords us a ‘Smart Partner’ to license our early stage technologies and provides the financing and know-how to be able to push those technologies — and promising new therapeutics — much closer to market than we could have on our own.


About Emory University

The Emory University Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) manages the intellectual property rights of the University and oversees industry contracts. There are hundreds of innovations received from Emory’s world-renowned faculty that we shepherd from lab bench into the hands of a commercial partner. As a single point of contact for the industry, OTT is responsible for negotiating industry clinical trial agreements, research agreements, and confidentiality agreements. This better aligns industry contract negotiations, both clinical and non-clinical, with OTT’s focused outreach to companies looking to partner with Emory. Our activities include technology scouting; commercial evaluation of new inventions; intellectual property protection; marketing; license negotiation; licensing disputes; providing a single point of contact for industry; negotiating research, confidentiality, and material transfer agreements; start-up support; and education.