SPARK HAIFA Alliance for Innovative Medicine: Translating Basic Research into Novel Therapies and Diagnostics

The  SPARK HAIFA Alliance for Innovative Medicine accelerates the translation of academic research performed in Rambam Medical Center and the Technion into next-generation treatments.

About  SPARK HAIFA Alliance

In collaboration with Stanford University's prestigious SPARK Global program, the SPARK HAIFA  Alliance aims to accelerate the translation of scientific discoveries from Rambam Medical Center and the Technion Rappaport Institution into novel therapies and diagnostics. The projects selected for participation in the program benefit from access to industry drug development expertise. Selected projects receive mentorship from leading industry experts and attend lectures covering various aspects of translating basic research into the development of new therapies and diagnostics. These lectures cover topics such as clinical pharmacology, high-throughput screening, pharmacokinetics, safety/toxicity evaluation, and other pre-clinical domains, as well as business-related topics such as protection of intellectual property and commercialization.

How does  SPARK HAIFA work?

Each institution accepts applications from researchers once a year, and has an independent selection process. The selection committee for each institution assesses the project's eligibility based on a compelling therapeutic rationale, an identified target amenable to therapeutic intervention, and sufficient evidence to support a drug discovery effort. The application submitted to the program's committee must identify a novel target or a novel approach to a known target with a distinct advantage over existing approaches.  SPARK HAIFA accepts projects from all therapeutic areas, with an emphasis on small molecule or biological therapeutics at this time. Please note that drug repurposing, clinical trials, and medical devices are not within the scope of this first stage.

The goal of the SPARK HAIFA  Alliance is to accelerate selected projects by establishing pre-clinical proof-of-concept, including in vitro studies and animal model testing, to the point where the project is eligible for out-licensing for further development and commercialization.

Selection Process

Each institution implements its own selection process. At Rambam Medical Center, researchers submit brief applications once a year. The program's Selection Committee reviews the applications to ensure that the proposal demonstrates a direct path to therapeutic development and is evaluated for novelty and compliance with the goals of Rambam SPARK. The Selection Committee, composed of Rambam representatives and external industry experts, selects a shortlist of applications and invites the applicants to give an oral presentation in front of the Committee. The presentation should include a full rationale, work plans, budgets, resources, and success criteria.

From the applications, the Selection Committee selects up to three projects each year from Rambam for enrollment in the program. Each project participates in the program for two years.

Mentorship Provided

Mentorship is provided in two forms. First, each project is appointed with an industry expert who meets with project researchers as needed to review progress and provide feedback on next steps. Second, monthly SPARK meetings take place, including all SPARK mentees and selected mentors. The monthly meetings alternate between team presentations by projects, followed by mentors' feedback, and frontal lectures on topics relevant to drug discovery, intellectual property protection, and commercialization.

Our current mentors are Dr. Shany Blum, Co-Founder, President, and CMO of PG Medical Systems, Ltd; Dr. Leah Klapper, CTO of FutuRx Incubator; and Dr. Joel Kaye, SVP, Non-clinical Development, 1E Therapeutics.

Overarching Goal

We are committed to promoting the development of the Haifa medical research ecosystem into a leading biotech hub in Israel. Haifa SPARK welcomes any academic institution or hospital interested in joining our activity.

For more information, please contact:

Igal Louria-Hayon, PhD

Director-Medical Cannabis Research and Innovation Center
Clinical Research Institute at Rambam
Rambam Health Care Campus
[email protected]l

Spark Collaboration