This year we are celebrating our 15th anniversary. To celebrate the event, we will have the pleasure of presenting 15 important dates in CQDM’s 15 years. From its founding to innovative projects, including the agreements and partnerships concluded with an impressive number of organizations in the life sciences ecosystem, you will discover how CQDM was able to position itself as one of the most important players in the country in regards to collaborative research in biopharma. All of this by successfully bringing together global pharmaceutical companies, levels of government, SMEs, Startups and researchers from the most prestigious national research centers and academic institutions. Join us in celebrating our 15th anniversary and visit this section of our website regularly as we will gradually add the 15 important dates. Come see how we became Facilitator in biopharma innovation!


In 2008, the Quebec consortium for drug discovery (CQDM) is founded by Max Fehlmann, with the support and backing of the Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec (FRSQ) and three major global pharmaceutical companies: Merck, Pfizer and AstraZeneca. The three companies sought to develop a new form of collaboration between pharmaceutical companies with the aim of accelerating the discovery of new drugs. Max Fehlmann, CEO of CQDM in 2008: I remember with great pleasure the first days of existence of the CQDM, when Alain Baudet and some of his colleagues at the FRSQ asked me to put together an idea they had had to bring the academic world closer to industry needs. A few weeks later, the CQDM was born, to the enthusiasm of the main players in the world of biopharmaceutical innovation in Quebec and Canada.’’

Since 2008, the CQDM collaborative model has not only extended to 13 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, but also to Canadian SMEs. Uwe Schoenbeck, SVP & Chief Scientific Officer, External Science & Innovation (ES&I) at Pfizer: ‘’CQDM’s unique model generates a collaborative force to the life science research ecosystem, bringing together top science from academia as well as pharma and biotech. From its inception, CQDM has been a key driver of innovation and breakthrough science for the benefit of patients that would not exist otherwise.’’

Fifteen years later, the mission of CQDM is even more relevant, being dedicated to stimulating innovation in companies of all sizes through collaborative research with the academic community. Rémi Quirion, Chief Scientist of Quebec: The CQDM has never been so important to facilitate and accelerate effective collaborations between academia and the private sector—from biotech to big pharma. I am convinced that the CQDM will play even more essential roles in years to come considering the huge societal challenges posed by climate change, resistance to antibiotics and the likes. Best wishes on your 15th anniversary—the next 15 years should be even more exciting for CQDM with increased impacts locally and globally.’’


The government of Quebec announces a financial contribution of $9 million over three years to the Quebec consortium for drug discovery (CQDM). With this funding, the Quebec government had just created an RSRI- Regroupement Sectoriel pour la Recherche Industrielle (Sectoral Grouping for Industrial Research) specific to the biopharmaceutical sector. The government of Quebec has maintained and increased its support for CQDM over the past 15 years to enable CQDM to stimulate industrial innovation through collaborations between the private sector and the academic research community.


In 2009, the federal government, via the BL-NCE (Business-led Networks of Centres of Excellence) program, announced $8 million in funding for CQDM, which supports R&D geared toward the needs of Canadian businesses. CQDM becomes one of 4 new business networks of the Networks of Centres of Excellence selected in Canada, helping Canadian researchers and entrepreneurs bring their innovations from the laboratory to the market. A few years later, in 2013, the federal government will provide another significant support to the CQDM with additional funding of $11.7 million.


The companies Boehringer Ingelheim, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Lilly became members of CQDM in 2011 in order to participate in the Explore program, dedicated to the financing of highly innovative unconventional technologies with a strong potential for impact on the discovery of new drugs. In the following years, other pharmaceutical companies will join to support the Explore program: Novartis, Janssen and Sanofi. Many Explore program projects were born thanks to this support. Let us cite as an example the project coordinated by Professor Yves St-Pierre on galectins, a family of proteins whose fundamental research suggests that they play an important role in the development of cancer. Professor St-Pierre’s project led to the creation of an innovative platform for the development of highly specific and effective galectin inhibitors, which opened the way to an entirely new set of high-impact targets for the treatment of various types of cancers.



Merck Canada contributes an additional $6 million to CQDM. Since CQDM’s inception, Merck has been a valued and loyal partner, contributing more than $17.5 million over the 15 years of our partnership. Merck’s commitment has made it possible to support more than 59 collaborative R&D projects, including a unique, globally competitive technology from Canadian biotech Mesentech. Mesentech is developing a platform to deliver highly potent drugs directly to the bone, thereby mitigating systemic drug side effects and increasing therapeutic efficacy, with important implications for the treatment of bone diseases such as osteoporosis, bone infections and bone cancers. Thanks to this technology, Mesentech has developed MES1022, which is now in clinical trials. Jennifer Chan, Executive Director of Policy and Government Affairs, Merck: ‘’Merck is proud to support CQDM in its mission to advance research and facilitate innovation in the healthcare field. As a founding member of CQDM, we are very pleased with the continued collaboration between the two organizations, seeking to consolidate research in academic/private partnership. The CQDM allows us to get closer to these entities to find innovative solutions for patients together.’’


Starting in 2012, CQDM has built partnerships that will materialize into promising research collaborations outside Quebec. First of all, close to home, CQDM is partnering with three Ontario organizations (MaRS Innovation, the Ontario Brain Institute and the Ontario Centers of Excellence) as part of the ”Quebec-Ontario Corridor” , which will be named among the five largest life sciences clusters in North America in 2014. Then, in the United States, CQDM partners with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, supporting the research and development of new products and processes intended for commercialization. CQDM will also go overseas to sign collaborative partnerships with France (via Alsace Biovalley and Lyonbiopôle), Belgium (via BioWin) and Germany (with AiF Projekt GmbH) in order to facilitate collaborations between researchers from Quebec and of Canada with international researchers.
Among the many projects resulting from these international collaborations, let us mention that of the team of Professor Michel Bouvier (IRIC / University of Montreal) with the company Domain Therapeutics (Strasbourg, France) whose objective is to improve the drug discovery programs of pharmaceutical companies targeting GPCRs (G protein coupled receptors). This project made it possible to consolidate a strong collaboration between IRIC and the company Domain Therapeutics and contributed to attracting Domain Therapeutics to Quebec.


Diane Gosselin, who has worked at CQDM since 2008 as vice-president of research and business development, became CEO of the organization in 2012. This appointment follows the departure of the first CEO of CQDM, Max Fehlmann, who becomes the CEO of a brand new organization in the life sciences landscape in Quebec: the NEOMED Institute (now adMare BioInnovations). The CQDM operating and operations model, combining a partnership between the public and private sectors, was a source of inspiration for the creation of the NEOMED Institute, which is located in the former AstraZeneca facilities. . For Diane Gosselin, current CEO of CQDM: ”As CQDM has become a key player in the life sciences and biopharmaceutical ecosystem in Quebec, it was an honor and privilege for me to take the leadership of this organization and to lead it towards greater consolidation of research resources, both in academia and in private enterprise and to contribute to stimulating industrial innovation and developing socio-economic value for Quebec and Canada.