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Participating Drug Discovery Centers

The Centre for Drug Research and Development
Fact Sheet
The Centre for Drug Research and Development is an independent, non‐profit organization with a focus on bridging the gap between academic discoveries in the health sciences and the development of new medicines to treat human disease. CDRD provides drug‐development expertise and facilities to enable researchers across Canada to develop promising drug candidates. Our organization draws on and develops discoveries made by scientists working in academic research and health institutions. Scientific and technical expertise guided by commercial insight allows our team to assess the chances that a discovery will result in a successful drug. We provide a collaborative framework through which drug development can become sustainable, cost‐effective, and advantageous to society.

The Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery 
Eshelman School of Pharmacy, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Fact Sheet
The Center for Integrative Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery was created with the mission of bringing dedicated medicinal chemistry expertise to bear on biological targets of therapeutic relevance under investigation by UNC faculty. Synthetic chemists, assay development and compound profiling scientists work in the Center and create dedicated, multidisciplinary project teams with other groups on campus in order to progress targets through the drug discovery and development process.

Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration
Harvard NeuroDiscovery Center, Harvard University
Fact Sheet 

The NeuroDiscovery Center's Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration (LDDN) was established to discover chemical agents from which we and others will develop a new generation of drugs to treat neurodegenerative diseases. To accomplish this goal, LDDN has recruited a permanent staff of industry-seasoned scientists with expertise in assay development, laboratory automation, informatics, and medicinal chemistry, to work in close collaboration with principal investigators from the academic neuroscience community. In this way, LDDN helps transform discoveries in the basic biology of neurodegeneration into opportunities for drug discovery.  The LDDN is a state-of-the-art drug discovery facility with 3,000 sq.ft. of dedicated research space including high content and automated microscopic imaging capabilities. Collaborating with the LDDN can be initiated at any stage and may involve: (1) designing and developing an assay based on the basic science and a hypothesis related to neurodegeneration; (2) miniaturizing an assay specifically for the purposes of high-throughput screening (HTS); (3) conducting a full-scale screen of LDDN's collection of 150,000 drug-like molecules; and (4) optimizing compounds through a program of medicinal chemistry to increase potency, reduce toxicity and to address physical-chemical and pharmacology properties (i.e. pharmacokinetics).  We provide the scientific community with not only the physical resources for drug discovery, but crucially, the intellectual and program management help defining the most promising lines of investigation.   

NeuroTranslational Program
Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute
Fact Sheet

The BSi NeuroTranslational Program was created with the mission of identifying novel drug targets arising from JHU faculty’s research and translating them into new drug therapies for neurological disorders. To accomplish this, BSi has taken the practical approach of complementing Hopkins’ strengths in basic research with seasoned pharmaceutical professionals who have decades worth of experience in drug discovery and early stage development.
The BSi NeuroTranslational staff has expertise in medicinal chemistry, assay development, animal pharmacology, the conduct of preclinical studies, and the knowledge necessary to bring novel drugs to the clinic. The BSi NeuroTranslational Program’s scientists will work hand-in-hand with faculty interested in translational medicine to create dedicated, multidisciplinary project teams. These teams will work collaboratively to obtain funding and progress targets through the drug discovery and preclinical development process. The data packages arising from this work will enhance out licensing and new venture opportunities. Raising the bar of medical excellence through an interdisciplinary education is a hallmark of the Johns Hopkins community. The BSi NeuroTranslational core staff, with breadth of industrial pharmaceutical expertise, will also participate in this tradition by providing drug discovery educational opportunities for faculty, staff, and students at Hopkins.

Small Molecule Discovery Center
University of California, San Francisco
Fact Sheet

The Small Molecule Discovery Center (SMDC) is a core facility directed by Dr. Jim Wells at UCSF.  The SMDC’s mission is to accelerate the path of drug discovery by assisting researchers in discovering small molecules that modulate biological processes and have the potential to alter disease states. The SMDC maintains a suite of modern robotic instrumentation for high-throughput biochemical and cell-based screening of small molecules and siRNA.  The Center also specializes in fragment-based lead discovery and medicinal chemistry.  Dr. Michelle Arkin, the Associate Director of Biology for the SMDC, oversees the HTS facility, which runs ~20 screens per year, and a group of postdocs and staff scientists who work collaboratively on lead-discovery programs in neurodegeneration, oncology, and neglected diseases.  Dr. Adam Renslo, Associate Director of Chemistry at the SMDC, directs a team of ten medicinal chemists, including students, postdocs, and staff scientists, engaged in multiple lead discovery projects, including prion disease (with Stan Prusiner) and Chagas’ disease (with Jim McKerrow).  Dr. Renslo’s group also works with the HTS core to evaluate screening hits and follow-up strategies.  Major collaborations include the Multiple Myeloma Translational Initiative (UCSF) and the Chemical Biology Consortium (NCI), and Genentech, Inc.  The SMDC serves as a critical partner to research projects in life sciences by providing high-performance lead-discovery technologies and inter-disciplinary research expertise. 

Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery
Vanderbilt University

Fact Sheet
The Vanderbilt Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery extends traditional academic pursuits in basic science to take the most exciting advances in our understanding of human disease and drug targets to a point where these breakthroughs can directly impact patient care.   The most innovative and potentially high impact new approaches for treatment of human disease that arise from academic basic science efforts are often untested and pose unacceptable risks for investment of the tremendous capital required to discover and develop a new drug in an industry setting.  This is especially true in discovery of new treatment strategies for the most serious of brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, autism, and others.  By incorporating the highest level of drug discovery into academic research, we are able to advance the most exciting scientific breakthroughs toward the development of patentable and marketable drugs suited for clinical studies.    This new model for academic drug discovery is crucial to the drug discovery process because it “de risks” new treatment strategies with the potential to transform the standard of patient care.  By investing in the early stages of research that pharmaceutical companies are reluctant to undertake, we can provide strong validation of innovative approaches to treatment of severe brain disorders.  The VCNDD includes four major groups, each of which is directed by veteran drug discovery scientists who have extensive experience in advancing novel molecules into clinical development, and staffed by dozens of scientists. These include Medicinal Chemistry, In Vivo Pharmacology, Molecular Pharmacology, and Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK).  These groups work together on discovery teams to identify compounds that act on specific targets, enhance the compound’s selectivity, efficacy, and disposition in the body, and ensure efficacy and safety, in vivo.  The VCNDD also works in close collaboration with the tremendous research infrastructure of other institutes and departments at Vanderbilt to advance new treatment strategies for testing in a clinical setting.  Since 2007, VCNDD has made significant progress in identifying novel treatments for brain disorders such as Fragile X syndrome, schizophrenia, dystonia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  VCNDD research is currently funded publicly by the NIMH, NIDA, and NINDS, as well as privately by the Michael J Fox Foundation, Seaside Therapeutics, Johnson & Johnson, and other foundation and corporate partners.