Pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced plans to joins forces with the University of California, in order to advance genomic research and improve drug discovery.

Under the five-year collaboration, the companies intend to establish a state-of-the-art laboratory for CRISPR technologies, dubbed the Laboratory for Genomics Research (LGR), which “represents a novel hybrid model that brings together industrial and academic researchers under a single roof working on projects both together and independently.”

The laboratory will “unite CRISPR pioneers with industry expertise to help unravel mysteries of the human genome”, and explore how gene mutations cause disease and develop new technologies using CRISPR to rapidly accelerate the discovery of new medicines.

Dr Hal Barron, chief scientific officer and president of R&D, GSK said that “Technology is key to our innovation strategy at GSK, and CRISPR is one of the most important technologies of our time. With the expertise of Jennifer and Jonathan helping to steer the LGR, I am confident the lab will significantly advance our scientific understanding of the relationship between genes and disease to help find better medicines faster.”

The LGR will receive up to $67 million in funding over a five-year period which will include facilities for 24 full-time university employees funded by GSK, plus up to 14 full-time GSK employees, and will be located near the UCSF Mission Bay campus in San Francisco.

The collaboration will be governed by a Joint Steering Committee with equitable University and GSK representation, with additional joint sub-committees covering patents, scientific and project management.