St. Louis-based Centene Corp. announced it will fund up to $100 million in research at Washington University School of Medicine.
The funding will be aimed at research in Alzheimer's disease, breast cancer, diabetes and obesity at Washington University, also based in St. Louis. Those particular diseases were targeted because they are common, debilitating and often deadly diseases that affect individuals worldwide, officials said.
Under the agreement, Centene's funding would be dispersed over 10 years to the School of Medicine's Personalized Medicine Initiative. Innovations that come from the initiative will be commercialized through a joint venture between the school and Centene.
Officials said the agreement would allow Centene to leverage the university's research and biomedical capabilities in CRISPR as well as its talent in researching the microbiome, immunomodulatory therapies, cancer genomics, neurodegeneration, cellular reprogramming, chemical biology and informatics.
It's the latest in a spending spree by Centene, which announced last month it would purchase rival insurer WellCare Health Plans in a deal valued at $17.3 billion. It will create one of the largest sponsors of government plans across the three main markets—Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act exchanges—following the WellCare merger.
Last fall, it was announced Centene backed pharmacy benefit manager RxAdvance in a $50 million funding round.
"We share the goal of helping to improve the health of our communities through research, education and customized treatment for people suffering from chronic illnesses," said Michael Neidorff, chairman and CEO for Centene, in a statement. "We believe personalized medicine is the path to ensure patients get the targeted health care they need to fight disease."
The funds are also expected to support more than a dozen centers at the School of Medicine.
"We will be bringing together world-class resources and intellectual horsepower from every basic and clinical scientific discipline to urgently accelerate the timeline for developing therapies that are more precisely targeted, with aspirations to do so in the next five to seven years," said David Perlmutter, M.D., executive vice chancellor for medical affairs at the School of Medicine.