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MIT and Amgen announce biological research agreement

MIT and Amgen, a leader in biotechnology, announced Tuesday a long-term research collaboration to pursue joint research initiatives.

"This agreement with Amgen represents an essential element in the kind of future I see for MIT-a synergy of basic research efforts at universities and long-term commitments by industry," said MIT President Charles M. Vest. "This university-industry collaboration of Amgen and MIT will advance the already rapid pace of scientific discoveries in biology and other sciences." The agreement specifies that MIT researchers will initiate the projects, with rights to publish articles on the research.

Under the terms, Amgen will have certain patent and technology licensing rights to developments resulting from the research collaboration in exchange for funding of up to $3 million a year for as many as 10 years. Amgen scientists also may serve as visiting scientists at MIT.

"We are enthusiastic about this promising collaboration, which could serve as a model for industry-academia partnerships," said Gordon Binder, Amgen's chairman and chief executive officer.

MIT Provost Mark S. Wrighton commented, "This agreement links Amgen, a leading developer and manufacturer of pharmaceutical products using biotechnology, and MIT, which has broad activities in biological sciences, including neuroscience and human genetics. MIT and Amgen will jointly hold patents that are the result of joint inventive efforts.

"Under MIT policy, any licenses for products which are to be sold in the United States require that a substantial portion of the manufacturing be carried out in the United States. MIT's policy on this is an extension of the Bayh-Dole Act of 1980, which sets such requirement for licensing of federally funded research discoveries. MIT applies this policy to all research discoveries, whether the source of funds is public or private," Professor Wrighton said.

Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN) is a global biotechnology company based in Thousand Oaks, Cal. Amgen develops, manufactures and markets human therapeutics based on advanced cellular and molecular biology.

Amgen has more than 3,000 employees worldwide. Its two marketed products are NEUPOGENR, which decreases the incidence of infection in cancer patients receiving myelo-suppresive chemotherapy, and EPOGENR, which combats anemia experienced by chronic renal failure of patients on dialysis.

Amgen was founded in 1980 by four men, including MIT Professor Emeritus Raymond Baddour, who still serves Amgen as a director.

The agreement provides that up to $500,000 a year of the research may be done by MIT professors working at the Whitehead Institute. It also provides that up to four Amgen scientists at a time may be visiting scientists, working at MIT with students and faculty.

"The biological science community at MIT greatly appreciates Amgen's support and future collaborations," said Professor Phillip A. Sharp, head of the Department of Biology, who will be the MIT manager of the collaboration.

Dr. Wrighton commented, "This agreement will not only support cutting-edge research, it will provide excellent educational and career opportunities to our students.

"This is an outstanding long-term commitment to MIT research by American industry. I greatly appreciate the initiative taken over the past several years by Robert Malster, senior liaison officer in Corporate Relations, and by Gordon Binder of Amgen in developing this collaboration. It adds a new chapter to academic-industry relationships.

"Our negotiating team, led by John Preston, director of technology development, with assistance from Lita Nelsen, director of the technology licensing office, and Karen Hersey, intellectual property counsel, worked diligently with Amgen officials to develop terms of agreement that will both benefit and protect the fundamental objectives of our two institutions. I also thank Cindy Lubien for her encouragement and support of this collaboration while she was at the Industrial Liaison Program," Dr. Wrighton said.

Thomas Moebus, director of Corporate Relations, said, "Gordon Binder is a visionary, able to transcend the short term thinking which is so prevalent in business today. MIT is fortunate to have such a partner to help expand its important work in the life sciences."

Dean of Science Robert J. Birgeneau will chair a research committee on the collaboration. The committee will include Professors Sharp; Emilio Bizzi, head of Brain and Cognitive Sciences; Gerald Fink, director of the Whitehead Institute; Richard Hynes, director of the Center for Cancer Research and Robert Silbey, head of Chemistry.

A version of this article appeared in the March 30, 1994 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 38, Number 27).

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