University of Dundee

Drug Discovery Unit shortlisted for THE knowledge exchange award

19 Apr 2012

The University of Dundee’s Drug Discovery Unit has been nominated for a prestigious industry award recognising excellence in knowledge exchange.

The Unit has been shortlisted in the Knowledge Exchange/Transfer Initiative of the Year category of the Times Higher Education Leadership & Management Awards 2012.The awards celebrate the talent and dedication of staff leading universities and colleges through a time of unprecedented change in the sector. There are 15 categories in total, and the DDU will compete for the prize against six other institutions from across the UK. The winner will be announced at a gala dinner at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on 21st June.

The award nomination recognises of the Unit’s pioneering new business model designed to efficiently reduce the risk associated with innovative drug targets through early stage small molecule drug discovery.

Early stage drug discovery is the process of converting ideas for new medicines from basic biomedical research into potential medicines ready for licensing to industry for further development or progressing into clinical trials. The connectivity between novel drug targets discovered in academia and their development into new drugs by industry has in the past been relatively unexploited.

The Unit works in partnership with the university’s world-class research scientists, using the university’s research knowledge base to promote economic growth and alleviate patient suffering caused by a wide range of diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. The nomination follows an award in 2010 to the DDU in partnership with TPP Global Developments from the Scottish Funding Council’s Horizon Fund for Strategic Knowledge Exchange competition to translate university-based life sciences research into tangible patient benefit.

Dundee is rare in having created a fully fledged, university-based drug discovery operation with a world-class team and infrastructure. It has gained an international reputation as a centre of excellence, initiating innovative drug discovery programmes with other academic institutions, charitable organisations, and with industry. It was described by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown as "truly pathbreaking"

The DDU is also involved in the development of new drugs to treat some of the world's most neglected tropical diseases. Although diseases such as African sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Chagas disease, affect millions of the world's poorest people, they have traditionally attracted little interest from pharmaceutical companies. The DDU recently wonover £10 million from the Wellcome Trust to fund drug discovery projects in this area, including support for a multi-million pound partnership with GlaxoSmithKline’s Kinetoplastids Discovery Performance Unit in Spain to develop new drugs for the most neglected parasitic diseases.

“We are very excited that our hard work and achievements have been recognised by shortlisting for this prestigious award.  We are very grateful for the excellence and support of the University of Dundee, our many partners and funders, which has allowed us to make such progress”, said Prof Paul Wyatt, Head of the DDU.