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Lakeside Discovery Supports Two Northwestern Labs

CHICAGO – Lakeside Discovery, LLC, the collaboration between Northwestern University and Deerfield Management, will support two Northwestern labs to advance their drug-discovery projects.

  • Elizabeth McNally, Ward Professor and director of the Center for Genetic Medicine, and Dr. Alexis Demonbreun, research assistant professor of pharmacology, both at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, will co-lead a multi-year project to advance pharmaceuticals for the treatment of muscular dystrophies.
  • Ali Shilatifard, chair of biochemistry and molecular genetics at Feinberg, will lead a multi-year project to advance pharmaceuticals for the treatment of cancers.

"We are excited that the two foundational projects for Lakeside Discovery reflect our commitment to advance Northwestern’s transformational innovations to the patient,” said Alicia Löffler, executive director of Northwestern’s Innovation and New Ventures Office (INVO) and member of the joint steering committee.

“These projects are precisely the kind of transformative research our collaboration is striving to push forward,” said James E. Flynn, managing partner at Deerfield Management. “By supporting the outstanding work of the Northwestern physician-scientists, we are taking the first step in addressing unmet needs in oncology and muscular dystrophy—ultimately benefitting patients at the bedside.”

Lakeside Discovery reflects a new model for drug discovery, partnering academicians and drug-discovery experts. The Lakeside application process consists of two stages. In the first, any interested Northwestern investigator is invited to submit project proposals. Upon review of the proposals, Lakeside Discovery then invites select investigators to participate in the second stage, during which time the Northwestern investigators partner with Lakeside experts to develop a detailed milestone-driven development plan and budget.The joint steering committee determines the final project selections to receive funding, which will support the project through an investigational new drug (IND) filing.  

A dedicated joint Lakeside-Northwestern project team will then work on the multi-year projects to advance the science through the drug-discovery process. 

 “These innovative projects from two of Northwestern’s top laboratories are paving the way for a new model of drug-discovery research,” said Amie Phinney, alliance manager at Lakeside Discovery. “Everyone involved is excited to demonstrate the potential of the novel way in which the Lakeside Partnership brings together academic innovation and drug discovery expertise.”  

Lakeside Discovery was formed in 2018 with the goal of accelerating the translation of transformative biomedical technologies. Deerfield is providing up to $65 million in targeted funding and development expertise to advance promising Northwestern research.

About Elizabeth McNally and Alexis Demonbreun

McNally directs the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. As the Elizabeth J. Ward Professor of Genetic Medicine, McNally is a cardiologist with expertise in the genetics of myopathic processes that affect the heart and muscle. Her work focuses on understanding genetic mechanisms of myopathies and using these genetic signals to drive therapy development. She has a special interest in neuromuscular genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy and testing genetic correction strategies in models of these diseases and ultimately in patients. 

Demonbreun’s research focuses on muscle regeneration and repair. Recognizing a lack of drugs aimed at enhancing repair or reducing membrane injury in skeletal and heart muscle, Demonbreun has been leading a team to advance understanding of injury-induced resealing mechanism that can be used to develop therapies.  By combining gene discovery with the use of model systems and defining the mechanisms by which genetic modifiers act, it is possible to better understand disease biology and evaluate the potential of new biologics.

About Ali Shilatifard

For more than two decades, Shilatifard, the Robert Francis Furchgott Professor and Chairman of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and Pediatrics and the director of the Simpson Querrey Center for Epigeneticshas been chipping away at understanding the molecular mechanism that could be exploited to slow the progression of cancers. Using his proprietary research model of chromosomal translocation, which has been adopted by hundreds of labs since being introduced, Shilatifard’s goal is to significantly improve the survival rate of cancer patients.