The MSU Drug Discovery Program was initiated in the Fall of 2014 by Dr. Richard Neubig, Chair of the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. The intent is to provide expertise and resources in modern drug discovery and development to faculty, staff, and students at MSU and to support active drug discovery efforts on campus. The program has received substantial support from the MSU Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies (VPRGS) as well as from multiple colleges and other units across campus.
In the Fall of 2014, Tom Dexheimer, PhD, joined MSU as manager of the Assay Development and Drug Repurposing Core (ADDRC or high-throughput screening HTS lab) coming from NIH NCATS with substantial experience in HTS assay development. Tom coordinates our weekly Drug Discovery seminar series which was kicked off that Fall with an introductory series entitled Drug Discovery 101, run to give a quick overview of drug discovery principles to students and faculty at MSU&. The biweekly seminar continues with outstanding talks from MSU faculty and outside speakers on drug discovery and development.
The ADDRC complemented the existing In Vivo Faclity in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology which was founded in 2008. Teresa Krieger-Burke, DVM, PhD, serves as director of the In Vivo Facility which provides in vivo testing of compounds for MSU faculty and external entities for efficacy and safety. They also develop and support novel models for preclinical studies.
We added Medicinal Chemistry support in 2016, when Edmund Ellsworth, PhD, a senior medicinal chemist from Zoetis Pharmaceuticals in Kalamazoo, became director of our Chemical Biology and Medicinal Chemistry Core lab.
Partnerships with other MSU units also strengthen the MSU Drug Discovery Program. Our Med Chem Core has access to kg-level scale-up chemistry resources at the Holland Facility- a former Pfizer site. We also leverage unique resources of MSU including the College of Veterinary Medicine, AgBioResearch, and outstanding Plant Biology research programs. The new Office of Clinical Research and Translational Medicine in the Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine is actively developing large animal clinical trials to accelerate translation to human use.
In addition to our core facilities, a program of Molecular Discovery pilot grands (MDG grants) has been supporten by the VPRGS, multiple colleges, departments, and other units. These grants (up to $30,000) provide funds to faculty across campus to access our Drug Discovery Cores. To date, 26 projects have been supported with these pilot funds to jumpstart screening, medicinal chemistry, or in vivo testing of compounds or other therapeutics.
We also have a close partnership with the MSU Innovation Center which supports technology transfer, external business contracts, and start-ups to move from the MSU Drug Discovery Program activities to practical applications.