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UCR joins drug discovery consortium

October 23, 2020
Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
October 23, 2020

UC Riverside has joined the University of California Drug Discovery Consortium, or UC DCC, "a cross-campus initiative aimed at building a drug discovery community that actively promotes research translation through industry partnerships."

UC DDC provides UC researchers with funding and mentorship to advance the creation of drugs that address important unmet medical needs. The consortium is governed by experts in drug discovery and development who serve as site lead representatives for their respective UC campuses. 

Maurizio Pellecchia, a professor of biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine, is the UCR campus lead and a member of the UC DDC executive committee.

“Advancing biomedical research into potential treatments is a very arduous task that requires a multitude of scientific disciplines, expertise, and financial support for activities that often are outside the scope of traditional grants,” said Pellecchia, who holds the Daniel Hays Endowed Chair in Cancer Research and is director of the Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine. “While each of the UC campuses has various core facilities and specialized expertise to address numerous aspects of drug discovery and development, UC DDC, with its efficient network approach, would integrate such resources and provide a much-needed central hub for UC investigators and disease centered UC-wide consortia to initiate or advance their translational studies in drug discovery.”

According to Pellecchia, UC DDC is poised to both technically and scientifically facilitate drug discovery efforts consistent with UC’s translational research goals. The major areas of expertise are in the development of proof-of-concept chemical biology probes and molecular-targeted therapeutics in several disease areas, he said.

“Unlike comparable universities or research organizations, UC DDC encompasses an impressively diverse, innovative, and state-of-the-art set of drug discovery expertise,” he added.

Pellecchia explained UC DDC has developed an innovative contracting strategy to more seamlessly bring together industrial pharma and biotech investors, UC life-sciences innovators, and technology transfer offices. He mentioned the strategy would enable both the pharma sponsor and the UC investigator to enter a simple contractual agreement that provides funds to conduct focused proof-of-concept studies in areas of direct interest to the sponsor.

“UC DDC also provides outreach activities, student education, faculty continued education and training in translational medicine,” he said. “The consortium also envisions being able to support UC investigators with proof-of-concept drug discovery tasks, preferably taking advantage of UC cores and facilities while advancing the targeted projects.”

UC DDC also includes medical centers at UC Davis, UC Irvine, UCLA, UC San Diego, and UC San Francisco.