Focus on innovative therapies

The University of Sydney has launched a new effort to drive a coordinated approach to drug discovery

The new Drug Discovery Initiative (DDI) unites researchers, clinicians and industry to develop promising drugs and delivery methods to improve human health.

It is planned that the DDI will focus initially on the University’s strengths in five areas, concentrating on early stages of the drug discovery pipeline – infectious diseases, cancer therapies, inflammation, neurodegenerative and central nervous system disorders, and metabolic diseases.

“The Drug Discovery Initiative is a strategic investment by the University in an area that can translate to innovative therapies,” says DDI’s Academic Director, Professor Michael Kassiou.

“It will act as a focal point to direct external and internal engagement associated with a significant hub of relevant research activity, to ensure opportunities aren’t missed.”

The DDI is set to create linkages across the University in disciplines aligned with drug discovery research and education, build awareness and strengthen the reputation of the University’s drug discovery capability and capacity across industry, government and academic sectors positioning the University as a recognised leader. 

“The DDI will ensure that cutting-edge infrastructure for drug discovery is available through Sydney Analytical facilities and support researchers through seed funding for collaborative projects,” says Professor Kassiou.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Duncan Ivison confirmed that “drug development, diagnostics, and biomedical research in general is a major area of investment for the University over the next five to six years.”

Drivers for drug discovery by scholars, clinicians and industry are often different, according to Dr Phil Kearney, Director of Licensing & External Research for Merck Sharp & Dohme Australia.

“There are clearly different drivers in industry and academic research,” said Dr Kearney. “We should accept that and revel in it by seeing where the overlaps occur.

“Researchers are good at target identification, screening, diagnostics and positioning, and are often concerned with publication as a primary output.

“Researchers are important to industry for their area expertise. We use a surprisingly high number of Australian experts to advise us on our drug developments.”

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