Drug development requires a wide range of expertise, from basic researchers working to identify new biological pathways associated with disease to scientists familiar with preclinical research in animals. Clinicians are often needed to recruit patients and run clinical trials, and entrepreneurs may be needed to bring a promising new drug to market. Often, this means that a potential treatment must be handed off multiple times before finally making it into the clinic.
Now, Stanford has established the Center for Experimental Therapeutics to bring all these people and responsibilities under one umbrella.
“The center is building the complete drug development pipeline, from identifying novel drug targets to designing new therapeutic agents to conducting early-phase trials,” said Shivaani Kummar, MD, professor of oncology. “Existing programs currently cover only portions of this pipeline. In contrast, the center will provide an integrated infrastructure for drug discovery and development. It also provides tremendous opportunity to train the next generation of researchers in the principles of therapeutic drug development.”
Kummar is the director of the new center; Sanjay Malhotra, PhD, associate professor of radiation oncology and of radiology, chairs the oversight committee that will prioritize and shepherd projects through the drug discovery and development pipeline.
The center brings together laboratories and groups with expertise in disease biology, target identification and validation, assay development, animal models, imaging, diagnostics and molecular profiling, among others. They will also engage experts in the regulatory aspects of drug development.
“Promising targets and molecules will be prioritized for further in vitro and in vivo drug testing and eventually studies to enable the filing of investigational new drug applications and first-in-human trials,” Kummar said. “Our early-phase clinical research program will specialize in the rapid completion of science-driven trials tailored to make early, informed decisions about novel agents for further clinical investigation.”
Researchers and clinical investigators are encouraged to become members of the center. Questions and project proposals should be directed to Kummar or Malhotra. The center plans to begin providing seed grants.
“The center provides a unique opportunity for students and trainees to learn the principles of drug discovery and development,” Kummar said. “Students, postdocs, clinical fellows and junior faculty will not only participate in ongoing projects, but they will also learn the principles of early-phase clinical research, study design, how to conduct clinical trials and how to interact with stakeholders from the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health and pharmaceutical companies involved in drug development.”