Rensselaer awarded $2.7 million NIH grant to improve drug development process

TROY, N.Y. -- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute a $2.7 million, four-year grant to develop new tools for drug discovery. The grant, awarded in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, will support basic research intended to produce effective pharmaceuticals faster and more economically.

Jonathan Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann '42 Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer, leads the research team that includes Shekhar Garde, assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer; Alexander Klibanov, professor of chemistry and bioengineering at MIT; Douglas Clark and Jeffrey Reimer, professors of chemical engineering at U.C. Berkeley; and Brian Davison, director of life sciences at Oak Ridge.

"This is a stellar partnership that relies on many different skill sets to complete the research," Dordick said. "Our goal is to develop a key set of tools to synthesize and screen promising compounds rapidly, and identify those most suitable for further development as potential new drugs." The current process of developing a single new therapeutic drug can take many years and cost up to $1.7 billion, according to a recent report in Chemical & Engineering News.

Recent advances in chemistry and screening techniques make it possible to identify large numbers of promising compounds, known as derivative libraries. Yet the subsequent testing required to evaluate each compound is expensive and slow. The resulting bottleneck in drug development has attracted considerable attention among researchers seeking to advance more efficient and affordable processes.

Dordick and the team are proposing a novel set of techniques that will, if successful, remove this bottleneck. "With this research," Dordick said, "we will be able to generate completely new compounds, accessing a w

Contact: Robert Pini
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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