Europe’s Largest Initiative Launches to Accelerate Therapy Development for COVID-19 and Future Coronavirus Threats

CARE (Corona Accelerated R&D in Europe), supported by Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), is the largest undertaking of its kind dedicated to discovering and developing urgently needed treatment options for COVID-19.

The initiative is committed to a long-term understanding of the disease and development of therapies for COVID-19 and future coronavirus threats in addition to urgent efforts to repurpose existing therapies as potential immediate response.

The CARE consortium will accelerate COVID-19 R&D by bringing together the leading expertise and projects of 37 teams from academic and non-profit research institutions and pharmaceutical companies into a comprehensive drug discovery engine.


CARE (Corona Accelerated R&D in Europe) a new consortium supported by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI) public-private partnership announced its launch today to accelerate the discovery and development of urgently needed medicines to treat SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. With a grant totaling € 77.7 million, CARE is funded by cash contributions from the European Union (EU) and cash and in-kind contributions from eleven European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) companies and three IMI-Associated Partners. CARE is a five-year project bringing together 37 partners from Belgium, China, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the US, and is led by VRI-Inserm (French National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Paris, France), Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Beerse, Belgium), and Takeda Pharmaceuticals International AG, (Zurich, Switzerland). It integrates partners’ COVID-19 projects ongoing since February 2020.

As a member of the CARE consortium, INNOVATION CAMPUS BERLIN - NUVISAN will contribute medicinal chemistry and DMPK expertise. We will lead a chemistry team with members from different partner organizations working on hit-to-lead and lead optimization projects to generate future treatment options and we will provide DMPK characterization for promising new compounds.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has emerged as the largest global health threat to humanity in this century, requiring the global scientific community to join forces in unprecedented ways,” said Professor Yves Lévy, Executive Director of the VRI-Inserm and CARE coordinator. “Beyond the scientific excellence of the different teams involved in this very ambitious project, CARE is bringing together 37 partners in an alliance pooling their expertise and know-how around an ambitious five-year work plan to develop therapeutics against the current COVID-19 pandemic. We are very grateful for the financial support provided by the Innovative Medicine Initiative that will enable us to implement this plan.”

With no licensed vaccines and only limited therapy options against COVID-19, the pandemic is ongoing, counting more cases and deaths every day. Uniting some of the most innovative and experienced scientists from all relevant areas in a unique collaborative spirit CARE will maximize synergies and complementarities with other initiatives such as the Gates Foundation-supported COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, 

MANCO1, SCORE2, and the ECRAID3 network, to accelerate the path to providing solutions for the current COVID-19 pandemic as well as future coronavirus outbreaks. After testing in the laboratory, the project will advance the most promising drug candidates to clinical trials in humans.

1 Monoclonal Antibodies against 2019-New Coronavirus
2 Swift Coronavirus therapeutics Response
3 European Clinical Research Alliance on Infectious Diseases

Anke Mueller-Fahrnow, PhD, Vice President and Senior Scientific Advisor for INNOVATION CAMPUS BERLIN - NUVISAN, said: "We are proud to be part of this strong global public-private partnership. We will contribute our expertise and resources to identify treatment options against SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses."

“We are very excited to launch the CARE consortium and collaborate with other leading experts to urgently identify new medicines against SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses that may have the potential to cause epidemics,” added CARE project leader Marnix Van Loock, Senior Scientific Director and R&D Lead of Emerging Pathogens, Global Public Health, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV. “As part of this initiative, we look forward to applying learnings from an ongoing collaboration on COVID-19 with the Rega Institute for Medical Research, part of KU Leuven, to screen a drug repurposing library of thousands of existing drug compounds.”

Kumar Saikatendu, Ph.D., Director, Global Research Externalization, Takeda said “It is humbling to see such a large collection of the best scientific minds in Europe come together to solve this complex problem with such urgency. COVID-19 is a once in a lifetime scientific challenge for our generation. CARE aims to create effective therapies with a positive safety profile for current and future coronaviral outbreaks. We hope to move fast and have a meaningful impact in a timely manner.”

Comprehensive short- and long-term response to COVID-19

CARE aims to create effective therapies with a positive safety profile for the COVID-19 pandemic (drug repositioning), and develop new drugs and antibodies specially designed to tackle the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The consortium builds on three pillars:

  • Drug repositioning, by screening and profiling compound libraries contributed by partners with the aim of rapidly progressing molecules to advanced stages of clinical testing.

  • Small-molecule drug discovery based on in silico screening and profiling of candidate compounds directed against SARS-CoV-2 and future coronavirus targets.

  • Virus neutralizing antibody discovery using fully human phage and yeast display, immunisation of humanised animal models, patient B cells and in silico design.

Closely integrated with these pillars are work streams focusing on the refinement of candidate compounds through a comprehensive medicinal chemistry campaign, systems biology research and pre-clinical and clinical evaluation of molecules from all three pillars. The systems biology work package will investigate the viral pathophysiology to increase our understanding of the interplay between virus infection stages and human immune responses. It will identify disease markers, to inform therapy development and improve clinical trial design and monitoring of Phase 1 and 2 trials investigating new therapeutics developed by CARE.


About CARE

CARE is a new public-private partnership bringing together scientists from academia, research centers, Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) member companies and IMI Associated Partners. In total, it comprises 37 different partner organizations. Professor Yves Lévy from VRI-Inserm is the academic coordinator, Marnix Van Loock from the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson is the EFPIA project leader and Kumar Saikatendu from Takeda is the project co-leader. The project partners are 11 academic institutions (KUL, GUF, AMU, UzL UU, EDI-IVI, UHAM, UEDIN, TiHo, JU, LUMC), five public research organisations (Inserm, CHUV, CEA, HZI, SERMAS) and 7 SMEs (IT, EVF, EXSCI, NUVISAN, SCIFEON, ENYO, AIB), together with eleven EFPIA members (Janssen, Takeda, Pfizer, ABBV, BI, Merck KgA, BAG, Novartis, Astellas, Servier and AiCuris), and three IMI2 Associated Partners (BMGF, UNIVDUN, GHDDI).


The INNOVATION CAMPUS BERLIN (NUVISAN ICB GmbH) is a newly founded dynamic contract research institute with about 400 employees founded by the acquisition of a complete research unit from Bayer. Decades of experience and top-notch expertise in the field of early pharmaceutical research combined with the spirit of a medium-sized, family owned company create an innovative campus of excellence for early Pharma research.

The INNOVATION CAMPUS BERLIN is part of the NUVISAN Pharma Services Group. The NUVISAN group generates sales of approx. € 55 million with currently about 550 highly qualified employees. It originated from LAB GmbH over 40 years ago and has been operating under the name NUVISAN with its headquarters in Neu-Ulm since 2010. The NUVISAN group as a Clinical Research Organization (CRO) and Contract Manufacturing Organization (CDMO) has six sites in Germany and France (Neu-Ulm, Berlin, Grafing, Gauting, Waltrop and Sophia-Antipolis) in addition to monitoring activities with offices in Argentina, Peru and Brazil as well as in the USA. After integration of the ICB, which was completed on 1.7.2020, the NUVISAN group now employs worldwide more than 1.000 people.

Further information:

About the IMI

The IMI is Europe's largest public-private initiative aiming to speed up the development of better and safer medicines for patients. IMI supports collaborative research projects and builds networks of industrial and academic experts in order to boost pharmaceutical innovation in Europe. IMI is a joint undertaking between the European Union and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA).

For further details please visit:


This project has received funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking (JU) under grant agreement No 101005077. The JU receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, EFPIA, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION, GLOBAL HEALTH DRUG DISCOVERY INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF DUNDEE.

*List of partners

1 (Coordinator) VRI-Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (Inserm) FR 2 (Project Leader) Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (Janssen) BE
3 (Project co-Leader) Takeda Pharmaceuticals International AG (Takeda) CH
4 Commissariat à l'énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA) FR
5 Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois (CHUV) CH
6 Eurovacc Foundation (EVF) CH
7 Exscientia Limited (EXSCI) UK
8 Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt am Main (GUF) DE
9 Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung GmbH (HZI) DE
10 Uniwersytet Jagiellonski (JU) PL
11 Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KUL) BE
12 Academisch Ziekenhuis Leiden (LUMC) NL
13 Servicio Madrileno De Salud (SERMAS) ES
15 Scifeon ApS (SCIFEON) DK
16 Université d’Aix Marseille (AMU) FR
17 The University of Edinburgh (UEDIN) UK
18 University of Hamburg (UHAM) DE
19 Universitaet zu Luebeck (UzL) DE
20 Universiteit Utrecht (UU) NL
21 Eidgenoessisches Departement des Innern (EDI-IVI) CH
22 Inserm Transfert SA (IT) FR
23 AbbVie Inc. (ABBV) US
24 Astellas Pharma Europe BV (ASTELLAS) NL
25 Bayer AG (BAG) DE
26 Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) DE
27 University of Dundee (UNIVDUN) UK
28 Enyo Pharma SA (ENYO) FR
29 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) US
30 Global Health Drug Discovery Institute (GHDDI) CN
31 Novartis Pharma AG (NOVARTIS) CH
32 Pfizer Ltd. (Pfizer) UK
33 Merck KGaA (Merck) DE
34 University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo) DE
35 Ai-biopharma (AIB) FR
36 AiCuris Anti-infective Cures GmbH (AiCuris) DE
37 Institut de Recherches Internationales Servier (Servier) FR


Media Contacts

For overarching questions re. CARE

Boehringer Ingelheim
Dr. Reinhard Malin
Head of Communications Innovation Unit Boehringer Ingelheim Corporate Center GmbH Media + PR
P: +49 6132 77-90815

Linda Ruckel
Associate Director, Media and Corporate Reputation Boehringer Ingelheim U.S.
Media + PR
P: +1 203-791-6672


Anke Mueller-Fahrnow
Vice President | Senior Scientific Advisor NUVISAN ICB GmbH
P: +49 172 666 91 34

Elmar Rothenfusser
Vice President | Marketing & Communication NUVISAN ICB GmbH
P: +49 177 2376100