Daniel Gervais, who is Vanderbilt’s FedEx Research Professor of Law, and Ellen Wright Clayton, the Craig-Weaver Professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt School of Medicine and a professor of law, will head a team of researchers from Vanderbilt and the University of Melbourne in a study that will examine regulatory strategies to promote the development of pharmaceutical research capabilities in developing nations. One important aim of the study, which has been funded by an initial $32,000 grant from the Melbourne – Vanderbilt University Partnership (MVP), is to promote pharmaceutical research in developing nations while ensuring the protection of the intellectual property rights of the organizations sponsoring the research.
The MVP was established in 2007 to offer the academic communities of both universities additional opportunities for exchanging ideas, collaborative research and joint publication. The study is one of eight proposals MVP selected for funding across both institutions this year.
“We plan to consider regulatory strategies to promote research on new pharmaceuticals, especially those used to treat orphan and tropical diseases, and also focus on ways to develop research capabilities in developing nations most affected by diseases such as malaria and sleeping sickness,” Gervais said.
The project will explore such strategies as adapting patentability standards, excluding certain subject matter from patentability, subsidies, compulsory licensing, regulatory approval models, public-private partnerships, patent pools, and biobanking, among others, with the aim of determining which, alone or in combination, might work best in developing nations.
“The grant awarded from the MVP is a great privilege and opportunity to determine what support mechanisms are needed to promote research in developing nations,” Professor Gervais said. “The project will kick off with a high-level international workshop in Melbourne during which—as one initiative—we will prepare a major global grant application to obtain funding for badly needed empirical research that will allow us to learn in which countries research on new pharmaceuticals is occurring as well as where and why this vital research isn’t happening.”