New partnership with international pharmaceutical company provides up to $10 million for drug development research at the University of Michigan

The University of Michigan and Sun Pharma Advanced Research Company (SPARC) have launched a partnership to accelerate the development of potential new medicines for a wide range of diseases. 

The new venture — which represents U-M’s first university-spanning partnership with a major international pharmaceutical research company in almost a decade — will provide up to a total of $10 million in financial support and in-kind industry resources to move various promising drug-discovery research projects within the university toward the ultimate goal of new therapies for patients. 

Working with Michigan Drug Discovery, SPARC will support projects selected from across U-M’s broad research enterprise, with a focus on early-stage translational therapeutic work in the areas of oncology, neurodegeneration, inflammation, dermatology, and ophthalmology. 

“This new partnership will greatly enhance the suite of opportunities available to campus researchers through Michigan Drug Discovery,” says Peter Toogood, Ph.D., director of Michigan Drug Discovery. “With this new funding, research support and drug-development expertise from SPARC, U-M is strongly positioned to help its researchers advance their discoveries toward marketable medicines and technologies to improve human health.”

This alliance helps bridge a major gap in the path from the research bench to clinics and patients.

Roger Cone, Ph.D.

The partnership has the potential to maximize the impact of the two organizations’ strengths, says to Roger Cone, Ph.D., a member of the Michigan Drug Discovery executive committee and director of the U-M Life Sciences Institute, the administrative home of Michigan Drug Discovery.  

“Major research universities like U-M have enormous expertise in the biology and fundamental research that pharmaceutical companies seek, and the pharmaceutical industry has the large-scale chemistry resources needed to turn new discoveries into marketable drugs,” he explains. “This alliance helps bridge a major gap in the path from the research bench to clinics and patients.” 

“The innovative drug discovery and development taking place across the University of Michigan has enormous potential to improve human health,” adds Anil Raghavan, chief executive officer of SPARC. “We are confident that, by partnering with Michigan Drug Discovery, we can help such pioneering approaches reach that goal.” 

Each selected project will have the potential to receive a value up to $1.5 million over a three-year period, including in-kind support in areas such as medicinal chemistry and preclinical development. The SPARC-MDD partnership will offer two funding competitions per year for U-M faculty.

Michigan Drug Discovery is a university-wide collaboration to provide funding and mentoring for U-M faculty members’ drug discovery projects. Through grants of up to $75,000, Michigan Drug Discovery enables early-stage work such as high-throughput screening, structural biology, medicinal chemistry, natural products development and pharmacokinetics in core labs on campus.  

SPARC (CIN: L73100GJ2006PLC047837) is a pharmaceutical company focused on continuously improving standards of care for patients globally through innovation in therapeutics and delivery. SPARC consistently aims to lower costs and improve operational efficiencies to advance availability and affordability of cures for patients across the world. More information about the company can be found at

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Top Image: Representatives from U-M and SPARC sign an agreement to provide up to $10 million for drug discovery research. Pictured (left to right): Nitin Damle, Jim Dalton, Kelly Sexton, Michael Choi, Anil Raghavan, Rebecca Cunningham, Rajesh Ranganathan, Peter Toogood, Roger Cone. Photo by Rajani Arora, U-M Life Sciences Institute.