Mission: To provide service to the scientific community, such as by workplace reentry and networking activities, as well as entrepreneurship mentoring. To conduct innovative, collaborative research to accelerate drug discovery and the translation of discoveries into development candidates for human clinical trials. 


History and Research Interests: The Pennsylvania Drug Discovery Institute (PDDI) is located in the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABIO), and was founded by Allen Reitz, Ph.D., and Kathleen Czupich, MBA, in Doylestown, PA, in June 2010.  It is a nonprofit organization that conducts research and provides service to the scientific community in the region.  In November 2013, chemical biologist Doron Greenbaum, Ph.D., was appointed as Distinguished Institute Professor and Director of Research Operations to spark and lead the research activities of the PDDI.


The PDDI is involved in discovering new drugs and in accelerating the translation of new discoveries into potential therapies for improving human health.  Its drug discovery capabilities are built around a network of nonprofit research institutions and small biotechnology companies, with an emphasis on innovative, multidisciplinary, collaborative research.  The PDDI employs industry-standard methods for identifying therapeutic targets, lead compounds, and preclinical development compounds; for risk assessment; and for advancing clinical development candidates.  The PDDI also serves as a think-tank to brainstorm ways to gain efficiencies and productivity in early drug discovery research and to improve the process of technology transfer.  The PDDI attracts top scientists and works to create jobs in the partnered companies. The PDDI provides service to the regional scientific community by helping to re-integrate experienced and senior-level biomedical scientists, who have been laid off elsewhere, into the scientific and technical workforce.

   

When the PDDI was created, we conducted a review of similar Drug Discovery Centers or Institutes.  There are ~70 of these in the U.S. that are directed toward product development or research.  The product-focused drug discovery centers are staffed largely by experienced researchers with an industrial background and have a technology transfer, applied emphasis.  Examples of such organizations in Pennsylvania are found at Temple University and Drexel University.  The research-focused drug discovery centers have as a primary goal the raising of funds to support the basic research of academic scientists related to drug discovery and associated with the host institution.  The PDDI conducts research in early drug discovery to find preclinical candidates.  We focus on the applied and technology transfer components of the biomedical research process.  We also serve as a partner in the U.S. for international researchers and institutions to collaborate with relative to accessing U.S. expertise and potential funding opportunities, such as from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The PDDI plays a pivotal role in helping new biotechnology businesses start, and in managing and advancing intellectual property from universities and other sources (Fig. 1).


The PDDI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  Thus, contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. 

Fig. 1. Central role of the PDDI to facilitate the commercialization of basic research technologies from universities and other sources.

Our ForwardTrackTM program seeks to promote workforce re-entry assistance to qualified biomedical researchers in Pennsylvania who have recently lost their jobs due to no fault of their own because of mergers, acquisitions and downsizing.  Through the ForwardTrackTM, qualified senior-level research scientists locate at the PDDI and are mentored in developing research plans and teams. Researchers are given an affiliation with the PDDI and career development advice and assistance, especially regarding forming collaborations and accessing federal and other funding. Program members are encouraged to participate in the seminars, journal clubs, research rounds and ad hoc interactions that are hallmark features of the collaborative spirit fostered by the PABIO.

    

The ForwardTrackTM provides guidance and consulting, tours of the PABIO and PDDI, and role-models for how to start up new or join existing biotech ventures. What we do as part of the ForwardTrackTM is to help craft both the research plan and the team required to be successful when starting a new company, as shown below (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. The coordination and creation of a Plan and the Team required for successful startup of a small biotechnology company.



Information on the PDDI website is currently managed by B. Maryanoff