Mentorship program: a win-win collaboration
One of the innovative aspects of CQDM is its one of a kind mentorship program. This program successfully builds dynamic partnerships, matching researchers funded by CQDM with influential senior scientists from CQDM's global pharma members. Thus, each project funded by CQDM benefits from the involvement of mentors from the industry. To date, 120 mentors around the world have contributed to the development of tools and technologies funded by CQDM to accelerate the drug discovery and development.
Bringing together the best
In the process of research and development, researchers know that turning a good idea into a success story requires high-level input from end-users right at the beginning of the development process. Mentors actively support researchers who are not afraid to think outside-the-box thereby encouraging imaginative scientific breakthroughs.
Located in North America and Europe, CQDM’s mentors are the end-users of the breakthrough technologies presently being developed and they want them to be the best they can be. Meeting CQDM's researchers at least twice a year, they provide industry-specific expertise, offer valuable resources and sponsor the developed technologies in their respective organizations.
Invaluable collaborations to researchers
“The mentorship program allows us to interact with researchers from the biopharmaceutical industry and better align the development of our projects with the needs of the industry. This provides a very considerable value to our research.” — Patrick Vermette, Université de Sherbrooke
“CQDM’s mentorship program is unique : a very collegial mechanism to move projects forward and establish lasting links between academic labs and pharmaceutical companies. In my own experience, the CQDM projects I have had funded benefited greatly from the input of the mentors both in terms of proximal goals and long-term directions. I have always liked the fact that CQDM funds risky, cutting-edge science. The mentorship program attenuates what little risk is left by helping align project goals and aspirations between the researchers and the companies funding this work in a pre-competitive spirit.” — Terry Hébert, McGill University
“Our mentors have consistently provided key advice and support when dealing with important decisions. Their knowledge of the industry, its current goals, directions and problems, have provided important insights that have had a major impact on our strategies and areas of focus.”
— Henry Krause, InDanio Biosciences Inc.
“Discussions with input from our mentors, both via formal meetings and otherwise, have been key to the success of our CQDM project. For example, we experienced technical difficulties with the miRNA profiling platform initially selected. Our mentors used their experience and networks to rapidly guide us towards a more reliable technology, which we are now successfully utilizing, saving us both time and money.”
— Morag Park, McGill University
Examples of benefits
CQDM’s mentorship program creates value by focusing on the synergies and collaboration while ensuring that the funded research is in tune with the needs of the industry. This program gave the following results:
Concrete commitments and use of research results by pharmaceutical companies:
- the team of Professor Michel Bouvier at the Université de Montréal has generated a family of biosensors that predict the efficacy and side effects of drugs that target G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a large family of receptors at the origin of several drugs currently on the market. CQDM pharmaceutical partners already use internally biosensors developed by Professor Bouvier. Pfizer is also committed to invest substantial additional funds to develop a platform for drug discovery based on these biosensors. The technology developed by the team of Professor Bouvier has also led to the creation of a new service company based in Montreal;
Acceleration of technology transfer:
- even before completing the project, Dr. Jocelyn Dupuis at the Montreal Heart Institute has galvanized the pharmaceutical industry with PlumoBind, a potential new biomarker of pulmonary hypertension, which prompted a pharmaceutical partner to exercise its use option. This has resulted in a significant contribution as an internal parallel development of one suitable version for positron emission tomography (PET) ;
Clinical, regulatory and technical collaborations:
- innovative technology designed by the team of Professor Matthias Götte to identify approaches to developing drugs targeting the eight herpes viruses has opened new avenues of therapeutic solutions in the pharmaceutical industry;
The identification of new business niches:
- Dr. Michel Maziade at the Université Laval has identified new biomarkers to accurately diagnose patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. This non-invasive technology uses the retina to access and control the central nervous system. In addition to its diagnostic capabilities, this technology can predict whether a patient will have a good or bad response to a specific treatment. Technology can be used to quickly recruit patients for clinical trials, and reduce recruitment time from months to weeks. An estimated $ 4.5 M cost savings for the pivotal trials. This technology also has great potential in the discovery of new drugs for clinical management of patients with schizophrenia.
- CQDM’s financing allowed Caprion to work with the best researchers in the field of diabetes to discover markers that can track the function and the mass of pancreatic cells from a blood sample and with high precision. This breakthrough represents a revolution which will better understand and predict the effect of drugs against diabetes. Technology can be used to rapidly identify patients with pre-diabetes in clinical trials, and to track the effectiveness of treatments at an early stage of the disease. Several members of CQDM pharma have already expressed interest in this technology. This project has enabled Caprion to demonstrate the value of its proteomics platform and win major contracts with two large pharma based in the United States. Technology has also allowed Caprion to develop its own diagnostic division, which has created new jobs in the life sciences in Montreal;
- Medicago and two of the best universities in Quebec have joined forces to develop a high throughput platform that quickly identifies the best candidates for vaccines. The VLPExpress platform to discover new antigens of virus-like particles (VLPs) of a pathogen in less than 10 weeks and 10 times cheaper than conventional methods. This platform allowed Medicago to enrich its portfolio of products in development (with vaccines against rabies and Ebola). It also resulted in an investment of $ 4 M and created 20 new jobs in Quebec. The technology has also been transferred to the United States, France and Asia, allowing Medicago to play a leading role in the field of vaccines, internationally.