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The gloved hands of a Northwestern Medicine clinician-scientist clean laboratory equipment.
The gloved hands of a Northwestern Medicine clinician-scientist clean laboratory equipment.

New Hub Will Accelerate Medical Discoveries

9 Chicagoland Institutions to Collaborate to Bring New Treatments to Patients Faster

A new partnership involving the Comprehensive Transplant Center at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and eight other Chicago healthcare institutions will help the city’s leading academic biomedical scientists deliver innovative treatments and technologies faster to patients who need them most. Challenges such as insufficient funding and a lack of available data can keep medical research from moving out of the lab and to the bedside. This unique collaborative effort is designed to help overcome those challenges and help more patients benefit from medical breakthroughs.

The Chicago Biomedical Consortium Hub for Innovative Technology and Entrepreneurship in the Sciences (CBC-HITES) will connect Chicago’s academic inventors with biopharma leaders to transform their research into viable treatments for patients. CBC-HITES is one of 13 hubs that are now part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research Evaluation and Commercialization (REAC) Hub.

The new hub will be funded by a $10.4 million investment, including:

  • $6 million in support from the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust
  • A $4 million grant awarded by The National Institutes of Health
  • $400,000 given by the Walder Foundation

CBC-HITES leverages talent, methodologies, networks and infrastructure developed by the Chicago Biomedical Consortium (CBC), a research consortium between Northwestern University, University of Chicago and University of Illinois Chicago, funded by the Searle Funds at The Chicago Community Trust.

“Building on infrastructure developed by the CBC, the new REAC Hub connects Chicago medical scientists with the expertise and network they need to develop their ideas into biotech applications,” says Satish Nadig, MD, PhD, director of the Comprehensive Transplant Center. “The goal is to get innovative treatments from discovery to patient delivery faster, and we needed a way to teach medical inventors about that process. We’re helping patients and expanding the Chicago-based life sciences ecosystem at the same time through this unprecedented collaborative effort.”

In collaboration with 27 industry, venture capital and community organizations, CBC-HITES will accelerate the discoveries of medical scientists from nine Chicago institutions:

  • Northwestern University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois Chicago
  • The Discovery Partners Institute
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Rosalind Franklin University
  • Rush University

While Chicagoland universities took in $5.8 billion in NIH funding between 2017 and 2022, and Northwestern University research funding topped $1 billion in fiscal year 2023, Chicagoland biotech companies do not receive the same level of private venture capital funding as their coastal counterparts, according to numbers from the CBC. By helping innovators take their ideas and research from the lab to the bedside, CBC-HITES will attract more professional capital.

“Chicago is rich with medical innovators, and they need seed funding, guidance from expert networks and input from venture capital,” says Michelle Hoffmann, PhD, executive director at the CBC. “Advancing methods we developed in the CBC, CBC-HITES will organize a professional venture board, project management, as well as clinical, industry and community partners. We will use federal resources provided through the REACH program, including access to FDA and CMS experts. We will help move scientific discoveries from the university toward commercialization, eventually building businesses here in Chicago.”

CBC-HITES will also expand on the CBC’s entrepreneurial fellow program that trains Midwestern junior scientific talent to commercialize early inventions in exchange for a pledge to work in the Chicagoland ecosystem after the fellowship.

“Through CBC-HITES, we’re training young scientific talent who will continue to serve the community,” Hoffmann says.

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