VUMC and Celgene Corporation enter into research agreement to accelerate development of next-generation therapeutics

April 4, 2016

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has entered into a strategic research agreement with Celgene Corporation, a biopharmaceutical company based in Summit, New Jersey.

This collaboration with Celgene will harness the power of Vanderbilt's extensive genomic and bioinformatics resources and expertise. In particular, it will leverage BioVU, a DNA database linked to de-identified health information that includes 2.5 million clinical records and 215,000 genetic samples.

"Vanderbilt University Medical Center has world-class expertise in bioinformatics and has built one of the leading databases of DNA samples linked to health information," said Gordon Bernard, M.D., the Melinda Owen Bass Professor of Medicine and associate vice chancellor for Research at Vanderbilt.

"Celgene has demonstrated real commitment to forming innovative collaborations such as this to accelerate development of personalized therapies with the goal of improving the lives of patients with significant unmet medical need," Bernard said.

"Celgene is committed to high-potential research projects as part of our strategic focus to maximize opportunities for patients with cancer or immune-mediated disease by utilizing clinical and genomic data to better define drug targets and responder populations," said Rupert Vessey, D.Phil., President, Research and Early Development at Celgene.

"This collaboration will help realize the potential of genomic data to revolutionize drug discovery and is an exciting demonstration of how bio-repositories like BioVU can contribute to translational medicine," added Leeland Ekstrom, Ph.D., managing director of BioVU Partnerships.

BioVU already is being used to identify novel associations between phenotypes (observable physical characteristics) and potential drug targets to speed the discovery and development of new therapies and find new uses for existing therapies.

This approach, called a PheWAS or phenome-wide association study, was pioneered at Vanderbilt by Josh Denny, M.D., M.S., associate professor of Biomedical Informatics and Medicine, and senior advisor to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of the Director.

The research agreement with Celgene builds on a previous collaboration with Vanderbilt established in 2014 to investigate new uses for Celgene's anti-inflammatory drugs that were already on the market.


Vanderbilt University Medical Center