Updated: UI signs 10-year deal with Carle

Updated: UI signs 10-year deal with Carle

URBANA — The University of Illinois has signed a 10-year research affiliation agreement with Carle Health System designed to spur new biomedical advances at the new Carle Illinois College of Medicine — and outline who profits from them.

A related agreement calls for Carle to pay the UI $1.5 million annually to coordinate "translational" research, prepare grant proposals, oversee compliance and fund seed grants to attract top scientists.

The two parties completed a set of agreements and policies covering joint research practices and governance Friday that will apply to the entire campus, not just the College of Medicine.

Lesley Millar-Nicholson, director of the campus Office of Technology Management, said UI researchers have worked with Carle for years. But the new agreement sets up a framework for the flood of technology transfer expected to grow out of the new engineering-based medical school.

"We're all driving toward the same goal. We want to have an impact on the community, we want to have an impact on the world. We believe that we will do that with the framework we have built," she said.

Peter Schiffer, vice chancellor for research at the UI's Urbana campus, called it a "significant step forward" for the College of Medicine.

"Carle and Illinois already have a strong relationship, but the new agreement establishes a framework for collaborative, translational health care research, both in the proposed College of Medicine and across the rest of campus. Ultimately, that will speed the pace of health care innovation that benefits our community, the state, the nation and the world," he said Monday.

The updated research affiliation agreement is intended to create a more "robust" research collaboration to leverage each party's strengths — Carle in patient care and clinical research, and the UI in biological, engineering, behavioral, physical and computational sciences, the document says. The goals are to create a "first of its kind innovation ecosystem" that would attract researchers, scholars, health-care providers and policy-makers; foster groundbreaking research and improvements in patient care; and establish Carle and the UI as "national leaders in the future of health care."

Officials hope to increase funding from the National Institutes of Health, other federal agencies, foundations and corporate sponsors.

The two parties will share the financial benefits of any new inventions based on the affiliation of the scientists involved and their contributions to the research.

"If a university faculty member develops a technology, then the university benefits from the intellectual property financially," said campus spokeswoman Robin Kaler. "If Carle faculty do, Carle benefits. If they do something together, we benefit together."

The agreement includes an algorithm that weighs "which organization is supplying the intellectual power, and the proportion of a given project that is done by that person," Kaler said.

For example, if a UI researcher and a Carle researcher contribute equally toward a new invention, the two institutions would split the proceeds 50-50. But Carle would get a bigger share if the UI researcher also received part of his salary from Carle, or vice versa.

"This research affiliation agreement will be an important tool for Carle providers working to improve patient care, especially through translational research that brings studies from the bench to the bedside," Dr. Matthew Gibb, executive vice president and chief medical officer for Carle Health System, said in a release.

Carle agreed to allow the UI to handle the mechanics of technology transfer for research developments it owns, either solely or jointly with the university, said Millar-Nicholson, whose office licenses intellectual property that arises out of campus research projects — from new varieties of apples to innovative software.

A steering committee made up of four administrators from both organizations would oversee any research partnership developed jointly by the two institutions.

"This isn't just going to be about the College of Medicine. We're looking first and foremost at how we can advance things that are already in the pipeline with this partnership," said Millar-Nicholson.

She used the example of Photonicare, a startup firm at the UI Research Park that developed a tool to diagnose middle-ear infections. With more UI professors working with partner clinicians at Carle, "the path to market will just be much greater," she said.

The focus will be mostly on new biomedical devices or diagnostics, such as a software tool to help a physician make decisions during surgeries, she said. But it could potentially cover a new drug developed by UI chemists with patient trials at Carle.

"It could result in bigger pharmacy or biotech companies coming to campus," she said.

UI trustees approved the engineering-based College of Medicine last spring and a formal agreement between Carle and the UI in August.

Faculty members are developing a curriculum and the school is pursuing accreditation through the national Liaison Committee on medical Education and the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

A search committee was recently appointed to find a new dean, and interim Chancellor Barbara Wilson said Monday she expects the national search to begin "within weeks."

The first class of students is scheduled to arrive in fall 2018.

The agreements signed Friday also include a document outlining hiring practices, and a charter for the Joint Liaison Committee that will advise the provost, Carle's chief medical officer and the new dean on coordination, budgets and strategic planning.

"We are no longer simply designing the first college of its kind. With our Carle partners, we are now immersed in the exciting and hard work of building it," Wilson said in an email to the campus.