Two Boston Children's investigators to collaborate with Pfizer's CTI

Boston Children’s is proud to announce that two of our investigators’ projects have entered into collaborations with Pfizer's Centers for Therapeutic Innovations’ (CTI). Projects from the labs of both Xi He, PhD, from the Department of Neurology and Markus Frank, MD, from the Division of Nephrology were selected for this unique collaboration structure. Pfizer CTI will work with Dr. Frank to develop inhibitors of cells implicated in malignant melanoma and with Dr. He on developing treatments for osteoporosis based on the recent identification of a new target molecule discovered in Dr. He’s lab.

To the CTI collaboration, Boston Children’s brings physician-scientists who treat patients, teach and conduct research, and access to patient populations that can potentially benefit from new treatments. Children’s unique combination of research and clinical expertise will help develop therapeutic ideas that range from discovery to clinical translation and will eventually lead to clinical trials in patients. Pfizer brings its knowledge, expertise, and resources (including its own lab space and scientists) to the table. The company’s strength in drug development, clinical trial design and regulatory expertise will be applied to the selected projects, which will be jointly performed and evaluated as they move forward based on jointly defined metrics. The ultimate goal of CTI collaborations is to bring molecules to the clinic that are based on novel and strong discovery-stage science and that can become part of Pfizer’s clinical development pipeline. Be on the lookout for the launch of the second funding cycle for Pfizer CTI in the coming months.

Treatment for osteoporosis: Xi He, PhD

Xi He

Currently, there is a large unmet need for therapeutics to treat osteoporosis by stimulating bone regeneration. Hormone derivatives are currently the only anabolic drugs being used, but they are associated with significant cancer risk after long-term use. Dr. He identified a new molecule implicated in bone mass regulation that could represent a compelling drug target. He will be working with Pfizer to develop inhibitors of this molecule and to validate the mechanism-based hypothesis in the clinical setting.

Treatment for malignant melanoma: Markus Frank, MD

Markus Frank

Malignant melanoma remains one of the most deadly cancers. Dr. Frank has discovered a possible treatment avenue: molecules that block a protein that is highly over-expressed in drug-resistant human melanoma tumor initiation and metastatic disease progression.

The goal of the CTI collaborative project is to generate a targeted therapy that could potentially benefit all metastatic melanoma patients.


Pfizer’s CTI was launched to build meaningful academic collaborations with the country’s best scientists across 4 sites in New York, Boston, San Francisco and San Diego. As announced in June 2011, Children’s joined Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutics Innovation in Boston. The CTI partnerships are set up with the goal of developing therapies for diseases of all types.

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