Center of Excellence in Drug Discovery

The CDI hosts a wide variety of drug discovery programs focused on developing novel drugs to combat high-threat viruses, bacteria, and fungi. These programs, focused extensively on SARS-CoV-2, drug resistant Gram negative (GN) and Gram positive (GP) pathogens, and Candida and Aspergillus species, are supported by grants and contracts from the NIH, DoD, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis, TB Alliance, Biotech and Pharma sectors including Merck, Pfizer, Regeneron. Drug discovery efforts involving small molecules and biologics range from target development, early lead generation and compound optimization through IND-enabling studies. Public-private partnerships with industry ensure that promising drug candidates advance to clinical trials.

The CDI Center of Excellence in Translational Research (CETR) was established with a $ 33 million grant from NIH/NIAID to discover countermeasures against high-threat pathogens led by PI/PD Dr. David Perlin. This CETR is an enterprise-style Center composed of world-class academic and biopharma investigators with innovative and well-established drug discovery platforms focused on clinically validated and novel targets, promising Leads, and innovative approaches for new compound discovery. It serves as an engine to develop selected optimized Leads and Preclinical Development Candidates (PDCs) against high-threat MDR GP and GN bacteria including Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), Nontuberculous Mycobacteria (NTMs), SARS-CoV 2 and its emerging variants. CDI has world class expertise in advancing later stage molecules (preclinical development candidates) and repurposed and repositioned drugs for human therapy through detailed pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic studies. An important feature of the CDI program is the extensive expertise of researchers working with biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) pathogens under biological containment.