Columbia University

Technology Ventures

Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation Requests Proposals for Therapeutic Targets (Large Molecule Programs Only)

Monday, September 21, 2020 - 5:00pm

Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation, or CTI, is a unique joint drug discovery model focused on collaborating with leading academic medical centers to translate and transform concepts into breakthroughs that change patients’ lives.

The CTI 2020 Call for Proposals (CFP) is focused on identifying novel therapeutic opportunities in the areas outlined below with application in Pfizer’s core research focus areas: oncology, inflammation & immunology, internal medicine and rare diseases. Note: Columbia only participates in the large molecule program. If you have a small molecule project, please reach out to so they may check with Pfizer CTI before you apply.

CTI Collaborations Include:

  • Funding for project-specific research
  • Hands-on collaboration from dedicated Pfizer drug-development experts
  • Access to scientific/technological expertise and infrastructure at Pfizer
  • Potential for in-licensing by Pfizer, which would include milestone and royalty payments
  • Publishing rights

Areas of Interest and Targets/Pathways of Focus:

  1. Opportunities related to DNA Damage Response and Replicative Stress such as:
  • Chromatin and DNA damage response modulators in the context of nuclear or spatial organization (e.g. biochemical condensates)
  • Novel targets identified via synthetic lethal, chemical biology or other approaches, including DNA repair enzymes (esp. nucleases), scaffolding factors and nucleic acid targets (R-loops, G-quadruplexes)
  • DNA damage proteins associated with diseases such as cancer and repeat expansion diseases

Out-of-scope: cell therapies, antibody-drug conjugates, nucleic acid therapeutics

  1. Opportunities that address the cause or treatment of Repeat Expansion Diseases, such as: 
  • Therapeutic targeting of the mutant gene
  • Interventions that halt or reverse the somatic expansion of the repeating DNA sequences
  • Novel mechanisms that modulate or regulate the pathological repeat
  • Genetic modifiers of repeat instability or repeat contraction

Out-of-scope: therapeutic approaches that target/clear protein aggregates

  1. Opportunities to target Cellular Senescence, including senolytic and senomorphic approaches such as:
  • Induction or targeting of senescent-like arrest of tumor cells to overcome drug resistance and/or improve immune response to solid tumors
  • Novel senescence targets related to fibrosis, specifically mechanisms responsible for modulating fibroblasts/myofibroblasts function and tissue remodeling by stem/tissue progenitor cells
  • Targeting of senescence pathways in tissue resident immune cells in the liver, lung, skin, joints, and gastrointestinal tract that contribute to disease

Out-of-scope: telomeres/telomerase targeting approaches, age-related dysfunction

  1. Opportunities related to Tissue-Immune System Crosstalk in disease pathology including:
  • Targets/pathways that induce immune tolerance by modulation of unique or accessory regulatory cells including macrophages (Mregs), B cells (Bregs), and tolerogenic dendritic cells (tolDCs)
  • Novel inflammatory pathways/targets in tissue-resident innate, parenchymal, and stromal cell populations including fibroblasts, stem/tissue progenitors, neutrophils and macrophages

Out-of-scope: cell and gene therapies

Pre-proposal Submission Process:
Submission entails a non-confidential 2-3 page overview of the target, mechanism, evidence for disease linkage, and the proposed therapeutic drug. At a high level, the pre-proposal should suggest how the therapeutic hypothesis could be tested in the clinic. Pre-proposals submitted to Pfizer CTI will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

All researchers and clinicians whose work meets these criteria are invited to apply. Please submit non-confidential pre-proposals to by September 21st using the provided pre-proposal template found in the Related Documents section on this page.

For further information about submitting a pre-proposal, please contact
For further information about CTI areas of focus, please contact Julia Li at