Benaroya Research Institute and Novo Nordisk Collaborate on Autoimmune Disease Research

Seattle, WA

Groundbreaking Agreement Aims to Achieve Better, Faster Diagnosis and Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Lupus

SEATTLE - (June 28, 2012) – Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), a non-profit biomedical research institute in Seattle, Wash., and Novo Nordisk, a global health care company headquartered in Denmark, today announced a three-year collaborative agreement to potentially speed-up translational research of the diagnosis and treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and lupus.

The agreement establishes how Novo Nordisk and BRI research scientists and BRI clinicians will collaboratively develop studies to better understand changes in the immune systems of patients living with these autoimmune diseases. The intent is to develop better therapies and improve how these treatments are used.

“Translational research” describes a research approach that seeks to move discoveries made in laboratory, clinical or population studies more quickly into clinical care.  In this specific agreement, BRI scientists and Novo Nordisk researchers at the company’s Seattle research center will work together to study samples and data registered in BRI’s biobank of patients with these diseases, as well people with no history of autoimmune disorders.  The personal information of these patients will not be disclosed.

“This is the first time we have established a collaborative agreement like this and we’re pleased to be working so closely with Novo Nordisk to integrate scientific discovery, the development of diagnostic and treatment solutions and their clinical application,” said BRI Associate Director Jane Buckner, MD, a practicing rheumatologist and leader of the Kenneth R. Wilske Center for Translational Research at Virginia Mason.  “We anticipate that this will accelerate as never before our ability to better understand, diagnose and treat these illnesses.”

“Improving patient care through innovation is at the heart of our company culture and this agreement represents one way that we can work together with the larger health care research community to achieve this objective,” said Per Falk, Senior Vice President, Biopharmaceuticals Research Unit, Novo Nordisk.  “We’re pleased to be working closely with the Seattle scientific community, which is sharing its best and brightest with us in an effort to bring new medicines for patients.”

In the United States alone as many as 1.5 million people suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease, and more than one-half million people suffer from lupus.

Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason maintains one of the world’s most robust biobanks for the study of autoimmune disorders, with samples and patient histories dating back to 2000. A biobank, or biorepository, consists of the fresh and frozen blood and serum samples and medical and demographic information collected from people with a specific disease or condition. BRI actively maintains biorepositories for eleven different autoimmune disorders and immune mediated diseases including multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, inflammatory bowel disease, allergy, asthma, lung disease and transplant recipients. BRI also maintains a registry of healthy people for comparison purposes.

About Novo Nordisk

Headquartered in Denmark, Novo Nordisk is a global health care company with 89 years of innovation and leadership in diabetes care. The company also has leading positions within hemophilia care, growth hormone therapy and hormone replacement therapy. For more information, visit and for updates from our U.S. business, follow us on Twitter @novonordiskus.

Novo Nordisk’s Inflammation Research Center in Seattle, under the Biopharmaceuticals Research Unit, was established in 2009 in order to apply the company’s scientific strengths in protein science and inflammation, along with its proven ability to discover and develop marketable treatments for chronic diseases to the area of chronic autoimmune inflammatory conditions. The site’s mandate is to identify novel treatment targets for these diseases that can then be developed in close collaboration with the company’s other research facilities in China and Denmark, as well as with external research partners in an effort to bring treatment advances more quickly to patients.

About Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason

Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), founded in 1956, is an international leader in immune system and autoimmune disease research, translating discoveries to real life applications. Autoimmune diseases happen when the immune system, designed to protect the body, attacks it instead. BRI is one of the few research institutes in the world dedicated to discovering causes and cures to eliminate autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and many others. Visit or Facebook/BenaroyaResearch for more information about BRI, clinical studies and the more than 80 different types of autoimmune diseases.

BRI employs more than 250 physicians, scientists, researchers and staff with a research volume of more than $35 million in 2011, including grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Defense, JDRF, the American Heart Association and others.

About Virginia Mason Medical Center

Virginia Mason Medical Center, founded in 1920, is a non-profit regional health care system in Seattle that serves the Pacific Northwest. Virginia Mason employs more than 5,300 people and includes a 336-bed acute-care hospital; a primary and specialty care group practice of more than 450 physicians; satellite locations throughout the Puget Sound area; Benaroya Research Institute and Bailey-Boushay House, the first skilled-nursing and outpatient chronic care management program in the U.S. designed and built specifically to meet the needs of people with HIV/AIDS. Virginia Mason was the first health system to apply lean manufacturing principles to health care delivery to eliminate waste and improve quality and patient safety.

Awards and distinctions include Top Hospital of the Decade by The Leapfrog Group, 2012 Top Hospital (for the sixth consecutive year) by The Leapfrog Group, 2012 Distinguished Hospital for Clinical Excellence from HealthGrades®, and 2012 America’s 100 Best Specialty Excellence Award for Overall Cardiac and Gastrointestinal Care from HealthGrades.  

To learn more about Virginia Mason Medical Center, please visit or or follow @VirginiaMason on Twitter.  To learn more about how Virginia Mason is transforming health care and to join the conversation, visit our blog at

For media inquiries, contact:

John Gillespie
Media Relations
(206) 341-1509 (o)
(206) 402-2822 (m)

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