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The shared interest in Rare Diseases between Pfizer and the University of Oxford has led to a number of collaborations with this pharmaceutical partner.


About the Alliance

Both Pfizer and the University of Oxford have strong capabilities and interest in rare diseases, and have formed initiatives to support research in this area.

In 2014, Pfizer formed a collaboration with the Global Medical Excellence Cluster (GMEC), a group of six leading UK universities (including the University of Oxford), to create the Rare Disease Consortium. Around the same time, the University formed the Oxford Rare Disease Initiative to bring together the outstanding expertise in rare diseases and capabilities of scientists at the University and Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH). The creation of these initiatives has helped to foster links between rare disease researchers, industry, patient organisations and funders, and in 2015 the first collaborative research projects between the University of Oxford and Pfizer were announced. These projects are in haematology and neuromuscular disorders, with the following Principal Investigators receiving funding:

  • Professor Dame Kay Davies and Professor Matthew Wood (Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics)
  • Professors Alexander Drakesmith and Simon Draper (MRC Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine and the Jenner Institute, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine respectively)
  • Associate Professor Wyatt Yue (Structural Genomics Consortium, Nuffield Department of Clinical Medicine)

In 2015, a further collaborative drug discovery project in Friedreich’s Ataxia (FA), led by Professor Richard Wade-Martins, added to the portfolio of collaborative research projects between Oxford and the Pfizer Rare Disease Consortium.

Today, the University of Oxford and Pfizer continue to collaborate through Pfizer’s Innovative Target Evaluation Network, which aims to foster a novel collaborative approach with academic institutions. This ITEN partnership has already generated research projects at the University focusing on deubiquitinylation enzymes (DUBs), a gene family previously considered challenging to target, that might aid in potentially treating cancer as well as autoimmune, cardio-metabolic diseases and rare diseases. This project is led by Benedict Kessler (Nuffield Department of Medicine).

Under ITEN, Pfizer also delivers training at the University around drug discovery – find out more.

Support for the Alliance

The Business Partnerships Office offers a single point of contact for rare disease researchers at the University of Oxford and Pfizer, and supports the Oxford Rare Disease Initiative. For all enquiries about the collaboration, please contact Business Partnerships Manager David Bowkett.

About Pfizer

Pfizer is one of the world's premier innovative biopharmaceutical companies, discovering, developing and providing over 160 different medicines, vaccines and consumer healthcare products to help improve the lives of millions of people in the UK and around the world every year. Pfizer collaborates with the University of Oxford on several projects, historically focused around rare diseases.