A unique long-term collaboration with pharmaceutical companies
The MRC PPU provides a highly collaborative environment for our scientists, enabling us to addressing challenging problems and resulting in the overall strength of our Unit being much greater than the sum of the individual parts. A key aspect of this cooperative spirit has been a unique collaboration involving the MRC PPU, other leading researchers in Dundee’s School of Life Sciences, and a number of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. Established in 1998 under the umbrella of the ‘Division of Signal Transduction Therapy’ in Dundee's School of Life Sciences, this long-standing collaboration is widely regarded as a model for how academia should interact with industry, for which it was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education in 2006.
The DSTT collaboration was recently renewed for the period 2016-2020, and currently involves Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline, and Merck Serono. It provides an excellent opportunity for our PhD students and postdoctoral fellows to learn how pharmaceutical companies work and to establish collaborations. The aim is to accelerate the development of future drugs that target specific phosphorylation and ubiquitylation systems for the improved treatment of disease. Via the DSTT, our unit also generates a wide range of reagents that help the collaborating companies to set up screens and identify and characterise inhibitors. In return for investing in the MRC PPU, the participating companies have access to our unpublished results, technology, expertise and reagents, as well as first rights to license our intellectual property.
How our work helps many other researchers around the world
Inspired by the DSTT collaboration, the MRC PPU also provides reagents and services to researchers around the world in the fields of protein phosphorylation and ubiquitylation. In addition, the MRC PPU provides a DNA sequencing service that generates valuable additional income for our research. The generation of so many reagents in the MRC PPU stimulated the establishment of the start-up company, Ubiquigent Limited, which exploits research and expertise based in MRC PPU. The company currently offers many reagents, kits and drug discovery services, from which the MRC PPU receives royalties that are re-invested in our research programmes.