SOURCE: Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

March 25, 2010 13:30 ET

Notable Foundations Join Forces to Support Accelerated Drug Development Model

Myelin Repair Foundation's Breakthrough Model Shows Early Promise in Cutting Development Time and Cost and Puts Spotlight on Demand for Faster Research Pathways

SARATOGA, CA--(Marketwire - March 25, 2010) - Although research and development dollars in the pharmaceutical industry have doubled over the past 10 years, the number of new drugs reaching the market during that time has remained flat. In support of a new research model that shows early potential to get treatments to market faster and at less cost, today three leading philanthropies jointly announced grants totaling nearly $10.3 million -- to the Myelin Repair Foundation (MRF) to not only invest in MRF's unique approach but also to call attention to the demand for a new research paradigm.

Through separate gifts, the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Scott Cook & Signe Ostby Foundation offered support for MRF's breakthrough drug development model, a replicable process that incorporates an accelerated development timeline, collaborative research structure and comprehensive scientific review framework.

"We are thrilled to have the support of these respected philanthropies and are excited not only by the opportunity to further our current work but to continue building a process that other researchers can follow so they can move more quickly from basic science to treatment," said Scott Johnson, president of MRF.

As a not-for-profit organization, MRF applies a new research paradigm designed to facilitate collaboration among academic scientists, commercial biopharmaceuticals, government regulators and patients and their families with the rapid delivery of patient treatments as its singular focus. While public and private sector investments in basic medical research often yield promising results, there is no direct path for moving these discoveries into commercial development and patient treatments or cures. MRF's model spans this gap and has the potential to accelerate drug development and bring cures to those in need.

Each grant will fund a different aspect of MRF's model:

  • The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Pioneer Portfolio, which supports innovative ideas that may lead to breakthroughs in the future of health and health care, is awarding a one-year grant in the amount of $189,430 for MRF to conduct two virtual crowdsourcing experiments that will tap into global networks of innovators to generate ideas for more effective, efficient ways to fund and conduct medical research, speeding development of patient treatments and cures. The new grant is in addition to $1.2 million that RWJF previously awarded MRF to develop its research model.
  • The Kauffman Foundation is awarding a $100,000 grant for MRF to develop and execute a strategy to validate discoveries made in university laboratories; to produce high-quality, commercial-ready data; and to lead to a greater number of treatment targets entering the biopharma pipeline.
  • The Scott Cook & Signe Ostby Foundation, founded by Intuit's co-founder and his wife, will match the Kauffman and RWJF grants dollar for dollar as part of a $10 million challenge grant.

"What Myelin Repair Foundation is doing has changed the process by which scientific research is done in medicine to a process that is much faster and focused on producing the treatment, the cure, through open collaboration," said Scott Cook, co-founder of the Scott Cook & Signe Ostby Foundation. "This will solve not just one disease condition, but dozens and hundreds, which will change the lives of not just half a billion people, but I think this will change the lives of a billion people by the time it's done."

"The Myelin Repair Foundation has been a pioneer in creating a replicable development model that can accelerate drug research and development for a myriad of diseases, speeding breakthroughs and shepherding them through to practicable drugs with the potential to benefit millions," said Lesa Mitchell, vice president of advancing innovation at the Kauffman Foundation.

Nancy Barrand, senior adviser for program development at RWJF: "In its passion to hasten the search for cures, the Myelin Repair Foundation has been a leader in disrupting conventional disease research. We are proud to expand their efforts to identify the most promising, innovative strategies to enhance the pace, reach and impact of future medical research."

MRF in conjunction with the Kauffman Foundation, RWJF's Pioneer Portfolio and the Scott Cook & Signe Ostby Foundation hosted a webinar to discuss the merits of MRF's development model and the potential impact that replication of this model will have on the wider drug development process. Full audio and slide presentation of the teleconference will be posted at

About the Myelin Repair Foundation
The Myelin Repair Foundation (MRF) is a Northern California-based, non-profit research organization that is pioneering a model for medical research that stimulates the rapid discovery and development of new treatments and cures. The model is being demonstrated on developing myelin repair treatments for patients living with multiple sclerosis. MRF's work is leading the way toward faster development of new treatments and cures for ALL diseases. In February 2010, the MRF launched, a web site initiative designed to educate patients and their families about the shortcomings of the current system for discovering and developing new patient treatments. To date, nearly 1,000 patients and their friends and family members have signed the Patient's Manifesto at that site to encourage innovation that will accelerate the delivery of new patient treatments for all diseases.

About the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private nonpartisan foundation that works to harness the power of entrepreneurship and innovation to grow economies and improve human welfare. Through its research and other initiatives, the Kauffman Foundation aims to open young people's eyes to the possibility of entrepreneurship, promote entrepreneurship education, raise awareness of entrepreneurship-friendly policies, and find alternative pathways for the commercialization of new knowledge and technologies. It also works to prepare students to be innovators, entrepreneurs and skilled workers in the 21st century economy through initiatives designed to improve learning in math, engineering, science and technology. Founded by late entrepreneur and philanthropist Ewing Marion Kauffman, the Foundation is based in Kansas City, Mo. and has approximately $2 billion in assets. More information, visit, and follow the Foundation on

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Pioneer Portfolio
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. The Foundation's Pioneer Portfolio supports innovative ideas and projects that may lead to important breakthroughs in health and health care. Projects in the Pioneer Portfolio are future-oriented and look beyond conventional thinking to explore solutions at the cutting edge of health and health care. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime. Visit and follow us on

About the Scott Cook & Signe Ostby Foundation
The Scott Cook & Signe Ostby Foundation focuses on intensive management of select paradigm changes in health and education. The organization was started by Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit, and his wife Signe Ostby.

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