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Hedge fund investing $100m in Harvard drug research

The John Harvard statue looks over Harvard Yard.
The John Harvard statue looks over Harvard Yard. (Charles Krupa)

Researchers at Harvard University who want to take drug discoveries from the lab to the market may soon get an infusion of cash.

The university plans to announce a partnership Wednesday with Deerfield Management, a health care hedge fund firm that has pledged $100 million to invest in promising potential drugs.

The money will be funneled through a new company, Lab1636 — a reference to the year when Harvard was founded — and will support the development of novel therapeutics.

“Lab1636 will offer sustained support to ensure breakthrough innovations have a reasonable shot at becoming new therapeutics,” said Isaac T. Kohlberg, senior associate provost and chief technology development officer at Harvard.

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Harvard has launched more than 70 startups in the past five years, most of them life sciences companies, according to university officials.

James E. Flynn, Deerfield’s managing partner, said Harvard’s “outstanding science, breadth of technologies and mix of esteemed junior and senior faculty constitute a fertile environment” for drug discovery.

Research and development projects to be funded by Lab1636 will be selected by a joint advisory committee. The projects will be started by principal investigators from labs across the university.

Deerfield has undertaken similar collaborations with other universities and research centers, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Northwestern University, Johns Hopkins University and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.


Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jsaltzman@globe.com