Important Collaborative Forms as AbbVie Invests $30m & Taps into the Brain Power of Harvard Medical School to Develop new Antivirals

Important Collaborative Forms as AbbVie Invests $30m & Taps into the Brain Power of Harvard Medical School to Develop new Antivirals

AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV) and Harvard University announced a $30 million collaborative research alliance involving the launch of a multi-prong initiative at Harvard Medical School (HMS) to study and develop novel therapies against viral infections, with a focus on those caused by coronaviruses and by viruses that lead to hemorrhagic fever. This is an external collaborative integrating fundamental biology into preclinical and clinical development of new therapies for viral diseases that address a variety of therapeutic modalities. AbbVie taps into and will leverage HMS initiative involving large-scale, coordinated research that is driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. This collaborative seeks to propel transformative research into powerfully effective antivirals that in the future will advance humanities resistance to dangerous pathogens.  

The Deal

AbbVie will inject $30 million over a three year period as well as in-kind support, leveraging AbbVie scientists, expertise and facilities to advance collaborative research and early-stage development efforts across five program areas that address a variety of therapeutic modalities. It wasn’t disclosed what kinds of terms are involved for actual commercialized products.

The Drivers

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic reminds all those that bother to pay attention of the dire importance of readiness for public health crisis—whether it be infrastructure and testing, protocols and procedures to follow (e.g. All wear masks immediately) to advancing the portfolio of powerful antiviral therapies available to the pharmacy. This exciting collaboration seeks to address this latter point. HMS’ George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, dean of Harvard Medical School, declared paramount in importance is preparation for health crises such as the next coronavirus. The Dean commented, “The cataclysmic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic reminds us how vital it is to be prepared for the next public health crisis and how critical collaboration is on every level—across disciplines, across institutions and across national boundaries.”

AbbVie according to its mission statement must be “innovation-driven” and “patient-focused” while continuing to drive “sustainable top-tier performance” via execution and the development of a “consistent stream of innovative new medicines.” With the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for powerful new antiviral drugs, for example, is palpable when considering the current challenges ongoing in pandemic conditions. With an acknowledgement that there is so little understood in many ways, AbbVie makes what appears to be wise investment to pair with one of the most prestigious academic medical centers in the world.   

Michael Severino, MD, Vice Chairman and President of the Chicago area-based multinational pharmaceutical company, commented, “A key element of having a strong R&D organization is collaboration with top academic institutions, like Harvard Medical School, to develop therapies for patients who need them most.” Acknowledging the delta between what is known versus what is possible in the future, Dr. Severino commented, “There is much to learn about viral diseases and the best way to treat them. By harnessing the power of collaboration, we can develop new therapeutics sooner to ensure the world is better prepared or future potential outbreaks.”

Program AreaKey Leads
Immunity & ImmunopathologyUli Von Andrian, MD, Mallinckrodt Professor of Immunopathology in the Blavatnik Institute at HMS and Program Leader of Basic Immunology at the Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT, and Harvard Jochen Salfeld, PhD, Vice President, Immunology and Virology Discovery at AbbVie.
Host targeting for antiviral therapiesPamela Silver, PhD, Elliot T. and Onie H. Adams Professor of Biochemistry and Systems Biology in the Blavatnik Institute Steve Elmore, PhD, Vice President, Drug Discovery Science and Technology at AbbVie
Antibody therapeuticsJonathan Abraham, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor of Microbiology in the Blavatnik Institute Jochen Salfeld, PhD Vice President, Immunology and Virology Discovery AbbVie
Small moleculesMark Namchuk, PhD, Executive Director of Therapeutics Translation at HMS and Senior Lecturer of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology in the Blavatnik Institute Steve Elmore, PhD, Vice President, Drug Discovery Science and Technology at AbbVie
Translational developmentPreclinical validation, pharmacological testing, and optimization of leading approaches, in collaboration with Harvard-affiliated hospitals, with program leads to be determined

About Harvard Office of Technology Development

Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) promotes the public good by fostering innovation and translating new inventions made at Harvard University into useful products that are available and beneficial to society. Our integrated approach to technology development comprises sponsored research and corporate alliances, intellectual property management, and technology commercialization through venture creation and licensing. To further bridge the academic-industry development gap, Harvard OTD manages the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator and the Physical Sciences & Engineering Accelerator. For more information, please visit

About Harvard Medical School

Harvard Medical School has more than 11,000 faculty working in the 11 basic and social science departments comprising the Blavatnik Institute and at the 15 Harvard-affiliated teaching hospitals and research institutes: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Cambridge Health Alliance, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute, Hebrew Senior Life, Joslin Diabetes Center, Judge Baker Children’s Center, Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Schepens Eye Research Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, McLean Hospital, Mount Auburn Hospital, Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and VA Boston Healthcare System.

About AbbVie

AbbVie’s mission is to discover and deliver innovative medicines that solve serious health issues today and address the medical challenges of tomorrow. We strive to have a remarkable impact on people’s lives across several key therapeutic areas: immunology, oncology, neuroscience, eye care, virology, women’s health and gastroenterology, in addition to products and services across its Allergan Aesthetics portfolio. For more information about AbbVie, please visit us at