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Merck and BioMed X Institute Extend Collaboration to Continue Novel Research in Oncology and Autoimmunity

- Merck to support up to six additional research projects at the BioMed X Institute in Heidelberg within the next six years

- Call for application for a global crowdsourcing project, 'Regulatory T Cell Dysfunction in Autoimmunity and Inflammaging'

DARMSTADT, Germany, May 17, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced the extension of its ongoing collaboration with BioMed X, Heidelberg, Germany. Under the new agreement, Merck will start up to six additional research projects at the BioMed X Institute, building on ongoing research projects in the fields of oncology (DNA damage response and RNA splicing) and autoimmunity (intestinal epithelial barrier in autoimmune diseases). The next joint global crowdsourcing project will explore mechanisms of immune senescence and mitochondrial dysfunction in regulatory T cells and other T cell subsets that are shared in human autoimmunity and aging.

"We are excited to strengthen our ongoing commitment to our partnership with BioMed X," said Joern-Peter Halle, Global Head of Research at the Healthcare business of Merck. "As a result of this successful collaboration, multiple innovative discovery projects in new research areas have been started at Merck, including the successful implementation of our open innovation concept 'outcubation' published in Nature Biotechnology, and we look forward to the scientific advances to come."

Merck was the first pharma company to enter a partnership with BioMed X, beginning in 2013. Since then, the partnership has steadily grown and the previously initiated research projects have led to 25 scientific publications on topics such as in-silico design of selective kinase inhibitors, myeloid-derived suppressor cell activity, Golgi stress, and DNA damage, as well as several new potential drug target genes which have been further investigated in pre-clinical studies at Merck.

The new research projects will build on this ongoing work, as well as BioMed X's expertise in the fields of immunology and inflammation and Merck's in-house discovery capabilities in oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology.

"We are very grateful for the trust and support we received from Merck over the past eight years since we started our collaboration," Christian Tidona, Founder and Managing Director of the BioMed X Institute said. "This new agreement with Merck is a great validation of our unique innovation model, showing that it delivers sustained translational value to the early R&D pipelines of our pharma partners."

Candidates interested in the latest call for proposals in the area of immune senescence are invited to submit a competitive project proposal and apply via the BioMed X crowdsourcing platform at www.bio.mx/apply before July 11, 2021. Additional detailed information about this call for application can be found on the website of the BioMed X Institute at https://www.bio.mx.

About BioMed X

BioMed X is an independent research institute located on the campus of the University of Heidelberg in Germany. Together with our partners, we identify big biomedical research challenges and provide creative solutions by combining global crowdsourcing with local incubation of the world's brightest early-career research talents. Each of the highly diverse research teams at BioMed X has access to state-of-the-art research infrastructure and is continuously guided by experienced mentors from academia and industry. At BioMed X, we combine the best of two worlds – academia and industry – and enable breakthrough innovation by making biomedical research more efficient, more agile, and more fun.

About Merck

Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and electronics. Around 58,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people's lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2020, Merck generated sales of € 17.5 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to Merck's technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Electronics.

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