US biopharmaceutical group Gilead Sciences is shelling out a substantial amount of cash for access to academia under a multi-year research collaboration with the Yale School of Medicine to discover novel cancer therapies. 

Under the partnership, Yale and Gilead will construct a research program looking at the genetic basis and molecular mechanisms underpinning various forms of cancer. 

Scientists from both groups will work hand-inhand to identify new molecular targets that will hopefully provide better understanding of the disease and facilitate the development of new targeted therapies.

The partnership has been set up for an initial four-year term but there is an option to extend this to up to 10 years.

On the financial side, Gilead will stump up $40 million in research support and basic science infrastructure development for the initial period, but could provide up to $100 million if the collaboration runs for 10 years.

In return, the company has the first option to license any Yale inventions generated under the partnership.

Research projects will be chosen by a joint steering committee led by Joseph Schlessinger, chair of Yale's Department of Pharmacology and director of the Cancer Biology Institute at West Campus.

“When we find cancer targets that are new, we will work with Gilead on designing drugs, which they can then test in the clinic,” Schlessinger said, and he noted that the deal marks “a tremendous opportunity" for both organisations.