New Alliance to Help Design New Drug Treatments

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and the University of Washington (UW) have announced a new collaboration in statistical genetics to aid the analysis of information from large genetic databases. The new alliance will use statistical approaches to rapidly analyze data and predict responses to new therapies. As a result of this alliance, the UW team will be able to use GSK's large genetic data sets and GSK will gain access to the UW's vast expertise in statistical genetics.

The collaboration, at the UW's Center for Biomedical Statistics, will be led jointly by Dr. Bruce Weir, Chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the UW School of Public Health, and Dr. Lon Cardon, formerly Professor of Biostatistics at UW and now Senior Vice President of Genetics at GSK.

"Current genetic technologies produce a vast amount of information, but most of it is noise with respect to disease onset or response to medicines. New ways of thinking are needed if we are to design focused drug trials that reveal true signals. Statistical methods for identifying these signals add real value. The University of Washington biostatistics scientists have extensive expertise in these sorts of approaches for identifying genes that increase the risk of disease. Our new methods will let us identify the genes that influence drug response, an important but largely neglected statistical research area," explained Dr Cardon.

Dr. Weir said, "Industry partnerships are very important for our faculty and students, and we're now in a position to join with GSK because of our new space in the University Tower. Our faculty will be able to design studies that use genetic information to discover the basis of human disease and the response to pharmaceuticals, and our postdoctoral students will be able to apply their new statistical techniques to real-world data."

About the Center for Biomedical Statistics

The Center for Biomedical Statistics, at the University of Washington's School of Public Health, was formed in 2008 to foster collaborations within the Health Sciences at the University and other external partners. Department faculty work through the Center to provide consultation with Health Sciences faculty. They assist in the design of biomedical studies, interpretation of results, and preparation of scientific reports. In its first six months of operation, the Center provided 700 consultations. For further information see

About GSK

GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies, is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better, and live longer. For further information please visit