Skip to main content

News All News

April 27th, 2020

Harvard and Astellas establish strategic research alliance

Collaboration supports advancement of Harvard biomedical research and Astellas drug discovery research in a range of therapeutic areas

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., and TOKYO - April 27, 2020 - Harvard University and Astellas Pharma Inc. have established a three-year strategic research alliance to support multiple, multi-year research projects initiated by faculty at Harvard, focused on the research and development of innovative therapeutics and technologies of mutual interest.

The alliance will provide crucial support to future collaborative research efforts when the academic laboratories return to regular activities following the significant disruptions of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the new alliance, Astellas will issue one or more “challenges” based on Astellas’ research scopes to inspire research proposals by Harvard faculty, a number of which will then be selected by Astellas for project funding based on strong scientific rationale and projected impact on value for patients. Projects may span a range of developmental stages, from early investigations into the biological mechanisms of disease, to the identification of possible therapeutic targets, or to the generation and validation of new therapeutic entities.

“Academic-industry collaboration is vital to the advancement of biomedical discovery and to ensure that promising new therapies are developed to their fullest potential,” said Vivian Berlin, Managing Director of Strategic Partnerships in Harvard Office of Technology Development. “This research alliance with Astellas will not only provide important funding to Harvard labs but will also expand our scientific community of collaborators to make progress against major challenges in human health and medicine. Alliances like this spur creativity and drive rapid innovation for the benefit of patients in need.”

“We are delighted to build upon our successful collaborations with Harvard by establishing this broader strategic research alliance,” said Akihiko Iwai, Ph.D., President of Drug Discovery Research at Astellas. “Astellas has a long-standing commitment to the Boston-area life sciences ecosystem, with a rich source of world-class institutions and talent dedicated to turning innovative science into value for patients. Through this research alliance, we aim to incorporate the latest scientific innovation into our R&D pipeline to accelerate our drug discovery efforts from early-stage through to clinical stage in areas that match with our strategic focus. ”

Under the new research alliance, projects may be selected from labs across Harvard University; the request for proposals will be circulated widely, at a later date. Astellas and Harvard are determined to initiate this alliance effort to explore new collaborative research opportunities even in these challenging times.


About Harvard University’s 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. More than 70 startups have launched to commercialize Harvard technologies in the past 5 years, collectively raising more than $2.5 billion in financing. 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 Astellas

Astellas Pharma Inc., based in Tokyo, Japan, is a company dedicated to improving the health of people around the world through the provision of innovative and reliable pharmaceutical products. For more information, please visit our website at

Cautionary Notes: In this press release, statements made with respect to current plans, estimates, strategies and beliefs and other statements that are not historical facts are forward-looking statements about the future performance of Astellas. These statements are based on management’s current assumptions and beliefs in light of the information currently available to it and involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties. A number of factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to: (i) changes in general economic conditions and in laws and regulations, relating to pharmaceutical markets, (ii) currency exchange rate fluctuations, (iii) delays in new product launches, (iv) the inability of Astellas to market existing and new products effectively, (v) the inability of Astellas to continue to effectively research and develop products accepted by customers in highly competitive markets, and (vi) infringements of Astellas’ intellectual property rights by third parties. Information about pharmaceutical products (including products currently in development) which is included in this press release is not intended to constitute an advertisement or medical advice.


Contacts for inquiries or additional information:

Harvard Office of Technology Development
Caroline Perry,

Astellas Pharma Inc.
Corporate Advocacy & Relations
TEL: +81-3-3244-3201 FAX: +81-3-5201-7473

Tags: Alliances

Press Contact: Kirsten Mabry | (617) 495-4157