California’s renowned Salk Institute for Biological Sciences has signed a memorandum of understanding with Ipsen, the French pharmaceutical company specialising in oncology, endocrinology and neuromuscular disorders, to set up an Ipsen Life Sciences Program at the US institute.

The partnership is aimed at advancing knowledge in the field of proliferative and degenerative diseases through fundamental and applied biology research. For a period of up to five years, the Ipsen Life Sciences Program will sponsor three categories of research programme through targeted, core and innovation grants. Ipsen is investing more than $10 million in the initiative over the five-year period.

Targeted research programmes at The Salk Institute will focus on proliferative diseases, with particular emphasis on novel therapeutic concepts for the treatment of pituitary adenomas. Core grants will support basic research on the contribution of chronic inflammation to malignant diseases and conditions such as cancer, loss of cognitive functions, movement disorders and metabolic functions. Innovation grants from the Ipsen Life Sciences Program will fund “the exploration of advanced scientific concepts”, the partners said.

Ipsen’s presence in the US dates back to 1976. In March 2005 the company’s research centre near Boston, Massachusetts, which specialises in the engineering of protein and peptide hormones for therapeutic uses, was supplemented with a new bioprocess science unit dedicated to the engineering of therapeutic proteins.

The company also has a longstanding relationship with The Salk Institute. Last week saw the second annual symposium on biological complexity jointly organised by the Institute with the Ipsen Foundation (La Fondation Ipsen) and the journal Nature.