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UT System to participate in Sanofi iAwards program

AUSTIN — Sanofi, a global health care company, recently signed an agreement with The University of Texas System to fund selected research programs focused on the early stages of drug discovery.

Sanofi is committed to medical innovation, disease prevention, patient support and improving access to health care. With those commitments in mind, the Sanofi Innovation Awards program (Sanofi iAwards) intends to create an early-stage research culture that can quickly translate innovative academic research and findings into clinical testing of new pharmaceutical and therapies that could have significant impact on patients.

“This is a valuable opportunity for UT System researchers across its campuses and health institutions to secure funding for projects that may lead to important new discoveries,” said Patricia Hurn, Ph.D., UT System’s vice chancellor for research and innovation. “Sanofi is a global leader in health-related R&D, and their expertise and resources will greatly enhance the System’s ability to innovate.”

Sanofi is providing up to $2.4 million a year for the next three years to support innovative collaborative research to accelerate the R&D process and address patient needs. Sanofi and the participating academic institutions will create a joint scientific steering committee responsible for reviewing and providing input on research proposals from the UT System and other prestigious participating research institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, Weill Cornell Medical College, Columbia University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital.

The UT System is the only university system in the program, and each of its academic campuses and health institutions can participate in the program. David Russell, Ph.D., vice provost and dean of basic research at UT Southwestern Medical Center, will serve as the UT System representative on the joint scientific steering committee.

The UT System’s participation in the Sanofi iAwards program was an outcome of the UT System’s Texas FreshAIR (Academia Industry Roundtable) initiative. Beena Koshy, Ph.D., UT System’s assistant vice chancellor for innovation & industry partnerships who leads the Texas FreshAIR initiative, said the Sanofi iAwards program will help accelerate more commercial collaborations for UT System researchers.

The Sanofi iAwards program involving the UT System and Sanofi will be officially announced on July 9 at an Austin launch event. Researchers and executives from both organizations will also meet that day to discuss therapeutic research topics such as cardiovascular metabolic, immuno-inflammation, biologics and big data.

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With nine academic universities, six health institutions and an enrollment of more than 217,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $15.6 billion (FY 2015) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates – and more than 70,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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