Partnerships come in all sizes. The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, however, significantly tips the beam with its industrial-scale platforms and collaborations that seek to pioneer a new model of biomedical science.
“The Boston-Cambridge nexus makes it possible,” explained Stephanie Loranger, PhD, director of project planning and execution at the Broad Institute, during her talk “Managing the Three-Legged Stool: Science, Compliance and Alliance” on Friday, Sept. 11 at the 2015 ASAP BioPharma Conference. “The fundamental goal of the Institute is to take on high-impact, multidimensional projects that are too difficult to take on by a smaller lab. Sometimes the projects are contained in one program, but they usually stay in multiple platforms and programs.”
The mega-projects range from government collaborations (including entities such as the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and National Science Foundation) to philanthropic organizations (such as the Carlso Slim Center for Health Research, Klarman Cell Observatory, and Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research) to corporate projects with companies like Norvatis Pharmaceuticals, Roche Diagnostics, Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Calico, and Google—a new collaboration.
The Broad Institute also has operating agreements with neighboring organizations such as Harvard University, Mass General Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Its board of scientific counselors includes three Nobel laureates and its programs contain hundreds of researchers. Platforms range from genomics known for world-class sequencing to proteomics to genetics perturbations, where they run massive crisper screens.
“What is unique about these projects is that they are run by scientists who have their own grants and are pushing the boundaries of these platforms,” she explained. “They augment the creativity of scientists—what they can’t do in their own labs can be done there.”
The Institute has a three-legged stool of essential components for execution of large, multi-programmatic collaborations within the ecosystem, she said. It requires balancing
- Science management and execution of world-class platforms
- Compliance management—meeting budgetary, IP, reporting, and legal obligations
- Alliance management of very large institutional partners that need major coordination
This last leg of alliance management is new to the Broad Institute—“a different beast that we have not dealt with before,” she pointed out. “We don’t have an alliance management team. We have people who play roles of alliance manager. It really depends on the collaboration and who is our partner.”
Practically, what does this mean in relation to the Broad Institute? she asked.
- Access to large, multifaceted datasets that one organization/collaboration cannot fund alone
- Access to unparalleled cross-functional and cross-institutional research
- Rapid acceleration and translation of emerging knowledge and novel discoveries—therapeutics is the big in plan for next 10 years