GlaxoSmithKline is pouring $95 million into an independent, non-profit research institute tasked with pioneering a new understanding of how cells operate.

The Seattle, Washington-based Altius Institute for Biomedical Sciences will use new technologies and approaches to unravel how genes are controlled and how a cell’s “operating system” functions in health and disease.

The groups have entered a 10-year collaboration underpinned by $95 million in cash and other resources from GSK to advance the Institute’s basic research and technology efforts, which are also expected to attract funding from other sources. 

The pharma giant said it would also provide additional funding to apply Altius’ technologies and discoveries to a stream of drug development projects. 

Altius will be wholly independent from GSK, with its own management, board of directors and external advisors. But under the terms of their partnership the drugmaker has retained first rights to option the Institute’s inventions, and to invest in commercialisation of its discoveries via spinout companies.