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Alexion/UConn Rare Disease Innovation Fund

Through a joint partnership with Alexion Pharmaceuticals, the Alexion/UConn Rare Disease Innovation Fund (RDIF) is a program that supports UConn/UConn Health research projects to accelerate the development of a discovery, innovation, project, or product in the rare disease space to make it more commercially viable, either through licensing or creating a new startup venture. Associated outcomes will include: showcasing of UConn’s industry-focused capabilities in rare disease research; increasing the exposure of graduate students to the rare disease field; and cultivation of the Alexion-UConn research partnership.

Alexion is a global leader in the development and delivery of breakthrough therapies for patients with severe and life-threatening rare diseases. This collaboration leverages the collective expertise of UConn with a leading biopharmaceutical company.

Alexion is interested in supporting approaches to ultra-rare diseases, including novel therapeutic targets, biomarkers, and drug delivery methods. RDIF grants can be used for the development of: prototypes, pre-clinical data, human clinical data, drug delivery platform/systems, large animal studies, or other advanced pre-commercial research.

The RDIF will award projects up to $200,000 through a two-year commitment of funds ($100,000 per year), provided that projects achieve commercial-viability milestones throughout the duration of the funding period.

Following completion of the funded research program, Alexion will have an exclusive option to enter into a licensing agreement for these projects and the resulting intellectual property.

Eligibility: All faculty whose primary appointment is to UConn/UConn Health are eligible. Startup companies (faculty-owned or otherwise) are not eligible to apply, though faculty who are involved in startups are eligible to submit projects that are distinct from their work with any company.


2017 Alexion-UConn Rare Disease Innovation Fund Timeline (note that the timeline has been revised):

  • The Request for Proposals (RFP) will be released on Wednesday, January 25, 2017.
  • Letters of Intent (LOI) are due to the OVPR by Friday, February 17, 2017 at 5:00 PM.
  • LOIs will be reviewed by a joint Alexion-UConn RDIF Advisory Board. All applicants will receive a response from the committee during the week of February 27, 2017.
  • Applicants selected to submit full proposals will be invited to meet individually with representatives from Alexion for proposal development during the week of April 17, 2017. Meeting dates and times to be determined.
  • Full proposals will be due to the OVPR by Friday, May 5 at 5:00 PM.
  • Applicants will be invited to present to the Alexion-UConn RDIF Advisory Board on Friday, May 12.
  • Funding decisions will be made during the week following the presentations.


Alexion-UConn RDIF Advisory Board (members serve on all committees)

UConn Members:

    Dr. Mostafa Analoui, Executive Director, Venture Development & Technology Incubation Program
    Dr. Gregory Gallo, Director of Technology Transfer
    Dr. James Heym, Life Sciences Expert
    Dr. Karen Woodward, Industry Liaison, Life Sciences

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Members:

    Dr. Richard Riese, Vice President, Translational Medicine
    Dr. David Osterman, Senior Director, External Research and Scouting
    Dr. Haren Vasavada, Senior Director, External Research and Scouting
    Dr. Andrew Hutchinson, External Research And Scouting Lead


If you have questions about this process, please contact Dr. Matt Mroz at or 860-486-6378


The Alexion-UConn Rare Disease Innovation Fund will be administered through Internal Funding Programs and Technology Commercialization Services within the Office of the Vice President for Research.