Stanford University: Stanford collaboration with Arc Institute aims to expand academic, research and funding opportunities

Stanford University announced a new educational, research and funding collaboration with the Arc Institute, an independent, nonprofit research organization based in the Stanford Research Park in Palo Alto. Collaborations between Arc and the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of California, San Francisco, were also announced today.

“I am tremendously excited about this visionary organization that is creating an environment for close collaboration among some of our best scientists across the Bay Area to accelerate discovery and tackle the most challenging diseases,” said Marc Tessier-Lavigne, president of Stanford University. “We’re delighted to be part of the Arc Institute collaboration.”

The Arc Institute was founded by Silvana Konermann, PhD, assistant professor of biochemistry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Patrick Hsu, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering at the UC Berkeley, and entrepreneur Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO of Stripe, a financial services and software-as-a-service company.

The Arc Institute reports that its donors will contribute more than $650 million in support to the Institute to allow it to fully sustain scientists and their research for renewable eight-year terms.

“Our goal at Arc is to enable scientists to freely pursue the ideas they’re the most passionate about,” said Konermann. “To unlock their full potential, we are structuring the Institute around four core concepts built to enable high-risk, high-reward science.”

Four core concepts
Stanford’s collaboration with the Arc Institute is aimed, through phased growth, at providing several Stanford faculty in the School of Medicine with the opportunity to engage in curiosity-driven science, new career paths, cross-discipline collaborations and translational work to impact patients. Initially, faculty in the School of Medicine will be eligible to become core investigators at Arc. The institute will begin with a focus on complex diseases, including neurodegeneration, cancer and immune dysfunction.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to continue advancing the growth of life sciences at Stanford and in the Bay Area,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine. “We’re appreciative of the many people at Stanford who worked to get us to this point in the collaboration. I’m excited to see what it offers our discovery-based scientific community.”

A number of investigators at Stanford will be able to pursue research in labs that are fully funded for renewable, eight-year appointments at the Arc Institute. Similar arrangements will be available for faculty at UCSF and UC Berkeley. Arc investigators may already hold faculty positions at Stanford School of Medicine, UC Berkeley and UCSF, or be appointed to faculty positions by departments in those universities. Graduate students enrolled at these universities will be able to pursue their PhD studies at Arc labs.

Stanford faculty who are Arc investigators will have the opportunity to utilize Arc’s Technology Development Centers, where Arc plans to distribute key biomedical technologies within the institute that require significant financial support, unique expertise and systematic innovation.

A second category of faculty will be Arc-affiliated faculty, who will maintain their labs at Stanford, UC Berkeley or UCSF and receive unrestricted funding through seed grants to pursue research, with the option to work in collaboration with Arc Institute core labs or technology centers. Arc is enthusiastic about enhancing the existing intellectual relationships between these academic organizations.

“This is a real opportunity to forge new ground in the basic sciences, and a way for Stanford to bring its community and culture of innovation together with the scientific enterprise in the Bay Area,” said Aaron Straight, PhD, professor and chair of biochemistry at Stanford. “Our collaboration with Arc is an initiative with enormous potential impact for the future.”