Experts Convene for New KGI Center to Combat Rare Diseases
CLAREMONT, Calif., Oct. 17, 2008 – Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) today announced that the Center for Rare Disease Therapies successfully concluded its inaugural advisory board meeting this week, bringing together a host of experts from the private and public sectors to help shape the direction of this important new research center.
The Center for Rare Disease Therapies at KGI is designed to help find solutions for the 25 million people in the United States who currently have been diagnosed with a rare disease.
“More than 1,800 drugs that could help those diagnosed with a rare disease have received orphan drug designation from the FDA, but for various reasons only 326 of these therapies are available to patients,” said Ian Phillips, PhD, the center’s director and Norris Professor of Applied Life Sciences. “The Center for Rare Disease Therapies at KGI is devoted to developing ways for more therapies to become available to those who need them. Such an effort requires working with patient groups, companies and government agencies.”
Speakers at the board meeting included Gregg Lapointe, CEO of Sigma-Tau Pharmaceuticals, Timothy Coté, MD, MPH, director of the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Orphan Products Development (OOPD), Diane Dorman, vice president for public policy at the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD), Dan Maher, vice president of product development at BioMarin Pharmaceutical, and Dennis Fenton, a member of the KGI Board of Trustees and former executive at Amgen.
The Board of Advisors discussed the unmet needs of rare disease patients and how the new center can play a role involving KGI’s faculty and students. The center will use the expertise of KGI professors and scientists plus students working on Team Masters Projects to study key topics, such as market size, orphan drug applications, and increasing awareness of potential therapies.
Following the meeting, Coté conducted a workshop for KGI students on how to complete an application for orphan drug designation. As part of its mission, the center will educate students in rare diseases to help expand opportunities for new therapies in industry, where KGI students move on to following graduation.
Educating the future leaders of the bioscience industry, Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) offers an interdisciplinary graduate education through its Master of Bioscience (MBS) degree program and its PhD program in Applied Life Sciences. Using team-based learning and real-world projects, KGI’s innovative curriculum seamlessly combines applied life sciences, bioengineering, bioethics and business management. KGI also has a robust research program concentrating on the translation of basic discoveries in the life sciences into applications that can benefit society. KGI is a member of The Claremont Colleges, located in Claremont, California.
Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences is dedicated to education and research aimed at translating into practice, for the benefit of society, the power and potential of the life sciences.