Roche is stepping up its collaborative efforts with academic researchers to deliver the next generation of targeted therapies for unmet medical needs by forming an external academic translational research hub in its home market.

The hub in Zurich, Switzerland is a four-way partnership between Roche, ETH (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) Zurich, the University of Zurich (UZH) and the University Hospital Zurich (USZ).

Academic researchers from these institutions will team up with Roche to explore new therapeutic and diagnostic approaches in areas such as disease pathology, cancer, dermatology and inflammation.  

Experts from Roche (both Diagnostics and Pharmaceuticals) will work with scientists from ETH, UZH and USZ to define joint projects, with Roche providing unspecified initial financial support for a period of three to six years.

Assistant professorship

The collaborative initiative will draw on ETH’s recent significant investments in the molecular health sciences, which will provide the framework for an assistant professorship to study RNA (ribonculeic acid) functions in disease and develop novel RNA-based technologies.

UZH and USZ will contribute, respectively, their capabilities in molecular pathology techniques and the clinical infrastructure for research, while Roche will bring its drugs and diagnostics to the table, as well as participating in joint content development for the research projects.

The first of these projects will include a biomarker survey in oncology drug patients, developing RNA technology tools, and programmes related to pathways and assay development in pathology.

Core to strategy

“External collaborations with academic institutions are at the core of our strategy and are fundamental to develop the next generation of treatments in areas of unmet medical need,” commented Jean Jacques Garaud, global head of Roche Pharma Research and Early Development.

As Professor Dr. Daniel Wyler, vice president, medicine and science at the University of Zurich, pointed out, the Hochschulmedizin Zürich was recently set up to promote medical research collaboration between UZH, ETH, and USZ and to facilitate partnership with industry via a single entry point.