The Novo Nordisk Foundation, part of the Danish pharma Novo Group, is stumping up $47.5 million for a new research collab between the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Together, and with the seeding cash, the groups are launching the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Genomic Mechanisms of Disease with the aim of helping Danish researchers delving into the genetics and gene regulation of common yet complex diseases, with an early focus on Type 2 diabetes and obesity (already two major research and product areas for Novo Nordisk).
The idea is for the groups to join forces in the hope of speeding up efforts to mine genetic data for insights into disease mechanisms—and eventually into new treatments.
Based at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the new center will create systematic data sets that will help researchers around the world understand how human genetic variants affect risk for a series of diseases. “All datasets will be shared freely with the research community,” the foundation said in a statement.
A key part of the philosophy behind the hub, says Novo, is to launch and help maintain close collaborations between the Broad Institute and researchers at Danish universities.
The center will also set up an exchange program, allowing Danish scientists to study genomic technologies at the Broad Institute.
“With its leading universities and hospitals, Boston is renowned as an international epicenter for biomedical research and innovation—and the Broad Institute has earned a reputation of being a key nexus in this rich ecosystem,” said Niels-Henrik von-Holstein-Rathlou, senior vice president, biomedicine and health sciences at the Novo Nordisk Foundation.
“By establishing this new center with the Broad Institute, we seek to help drive global research in health for the benefit of many.”
“Starting with our roots in the Human Genome Project, the Broad community has long believed that international collaboration is critical to advancing our knowledge of human disease and getting benefits more quickly to patients,” added Todd Golub, director of the Broad Institute. “The Center for Genomic Mechanisms of Disease is a natural extension of our deep commitment to global collaborations but also our pursuit of foundational research.”
The new center will be directed by Broad Institute associate member Kasper Lage. “As someone who is both a Dane and a long-time member of the Broad Institute community, I am thrilled at the launch of this exciting new Center,” said Lage, who is also an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, director of bioinformatics of the Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Surgery and lead scientist at the Institute for Biological Psychiatry in Denmark.
“This collaborative initiative will give the next generation of Danish scientists the opportunity to benefit from the Broad’s unique technology platforms as well as our expertise in genomic technologies, gene regulation, and data science. I am grateful for the tremendous vision of the Novo Nordisk Foundation for this new type of collaborative initiative and to everyone there who made this exciting partnership possible.”