A co-operative research agreement that presents an “innovative model for industry/academic partnerships”, with an unusual degree of cross-fertilisation, has been announced between Merck & Co and Harvard Medical School’s Office of Technology Development in the US.

The partners will jointly advance research programmes in two core areas, oncology and central nervous system (CNS) disorders. The agreement includes (undisclosed) funding for six laboratories at Harvard Medical School (HMS), enabling a broad range of research projects to be taken forward, Merck and Harvard noted.

Scientists from HMS and Merck will work collaboratively while their proximity in Boston – the company and the medical school are within walking distance – will maximise efficient communication and exchange of ideas, they said.

"Boston is home to some of the world's premiere universities,” commented Lex Van der Ploeg, vice-president, basic research and site head for Merck Research Laboratories. “This agreement and our decision to establish our research labs in Boston reflect Merck's mission to work closely and strategically with academic thought leaders on the most compelling science in order to advance drug discovery.”

The Harvard Office of Technology Development is responsible for evaluating, patenting and licensing new inventions and discoveries made at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School. It also furthers the development of Harvard technologies through sponsored research collaborations with industry.