“Starting up and Spinning out: The changing nature of partnerships between big pharma and academia”
VOLUME 21 | NUMBER 9 | SEPTEMBER 2015 NATURE MEDICINE
“The inception of 4D Molecular Therapeutics is another example of how startups are spinning out of academia and partnering with pharma. David Schaffer, a chemical engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, had been working on developing gene therapy techniques since he joined the university in 1999. “I had been thinking about starting a company since around 2007, but the economic crash at the time made it clear that the timing wasn’t good for a startup. In the first eight to nine years of this work, I don’t think biotech was ready for gene therapy,” Schaffer says.
After Schaffer met David Kirn, a physician-scientist and entrepreneur, through QB3 in 2012, the two started to talk more seriously about forming a company. They founded 4D Molecular Therapeutics (4DMT) in 2012, with the help of QB3. 4DMT officially incorporated in September 2013. It is currently the largest company to be housed in QB3, with nine full-time scientists and five legal consultants. With the help of QB3, 4DMT signed a deal with Roche on 27 April to generate and optimize adeno-associated viruses to treat several ocular diseases. 4DMT also has ongoing collaborations with Amsterdam- based UniQure and with Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation (AGTC) in Gainesville, Florida.”