Broad and Bayer expand partnership, launching new research effort to develop therapies for heart failure

Precision Cardiology Laboratory will focus on using innovative technologies to better understand heart failure and pursue new drug targets

The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Bayer are launching the Precision Cardiology Laboratory, a new endeavor that will pursue scientific insights aimed at developing new therapies for heart failure.

According to the American Heart Association, more than 900,000 people are diagnosed with heart failure every year in the United States. The condition, which results from the failure of the heart to pump enough blood, is one of the most common reasons for hospitalization among adults. There are many causes of heart failure, and the Precision Cardiology Laboratory (PCL) will use new tools and methods to more fully understand and treat them.

Research in the new PCL will bring scientists from both organizations into an integrated work space at the Broad Institute, effectively combining Broad’s innovative methods for basic scientific discovery and the clinical expertise of its practicing physician/researchers with Bayer’s long history of drug development. The effort will be led by Broad Associate Member Patrick Ellinor, who directs the Cardiac Arrhythmia Service at Massachusetts General Hospital and is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The PCL’s initial goal is to develop high-resolution, single-cell maps of cardiovascular tissues in human and animal models. Using tissue samples donated by healthy individuals as well as people suffering from cardiovascular disease, researchers will build datasets to accelerate insights into heart failure.

“Such high-resolution maps of cells and tissues will be a profound asset for understanding heart failure and for developing new and better drugs,” said Ellinor. “I am extremely excited by the potential of this expanded partnership to benefit patients.”

The Broad-Bayer partnership began in 2013 with an oncology program. In 2015, the organizations launched a cardiovascular-specific collaboration aimed at using genomics to better understand cardiovascular disease. Now, the PCL will use non-genomic approaches to jumpstart the development of new therapeutics for heart failure.

Through this expanded partnership, Bayer is dedicating an additional $22 million to the collaboration over the next five years.

“The Broad Institute is an important and strategic partner for Bayer, enabling us to deepen our understanding in the area of cardiovascular diseases and we are looking forward to extending our collaboration further,” said Joerg Moeller, Member of the Executive Committee of Bayer AG's Pharmaceuticals Division and Head of Research and Development. “Joint laboratories are a novel partnering model for industry and academia and are bringing both Bayer and Broad cardiovascular research to the next level.”

The PCL will be guided by a joint steering committee. Ultimately, the lab will involve roughly 20 people with affiliations divided between the two organizations. The institutions will continue to openly share findings that arise from the collaboration through both publicly-available datasets and academic journals.