Press Release – UC Berkeley joins the University of California Drug Discovery Consortium
Berkeley, CA, 3/10/2021
UC Berkeley has joined the University of California Drug Discovery Consortium, or UC DDC, a cross-campus initiative aimed at building a drug discovery community that actively promotes research translation through industry partnerships (https://www.ucdrugdiscovery.org/).
UC DDC provides UC researchers with funding, mentorship, and resources to advance the creation of drugs that address important unmet medical needs. Each campus has strengths in different areas; combined, they provide a state-of-the-art pipeline for drug discovery. The DDC functions as a central hub, connecting capabilities at UCLA, UCSF, UC Davis, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and now UC Berkeley. The consortium is governed by experts in drug discovery and development who serve as site lead representatives for their respective UC campuses.
Dr. Julia Schaletzky, Executive Director of the UCB Drug Discovery center and the Center for Emerging and Neglected Diseases, is the UCB campus lead and a member of the UC DDC executive committee.
“The ideas for novel therapeutics often originate in academic laboratories. Since joining UCB, I’ve been trying to increase translational research capacity on campus and developing infrastructure to obtain proof-of-concept for novel treatment ideas. I’m very excited that we now can offer a much bigger range of resources through the UC-wide Drug Discovery Consortium.” says Dr. Schaletzky. “It is critical to make it easy for investigators to pressure-test ideas, and to encourage public-private partnership and collaboration. The expertise within the DDC is impressive, and our work at the interface of chemistry, biology, bioengineering and medicine has great potential to benefit society in the long run”. Dr. Schaletzky plans to also actively involve students in the effort and is currently setting up a “Drug Discovery Makerspace” in her center to provide highly relevant training for students interested in biotechnology. “Engaging industry partners in this effort is highly beneficial, and a win-win for both sides: The university obtains research funding and partnerships for development of suitable molecules, and the industry partner is able to work with the best subject matter experts towards a common goal, and to make use of the talent pool of students and postdocs looking for jobs.”
“We are excited to integrate Berkeley with the DDC”, says Dr. Michael K Gilson, Chair of the DDC’s Executive Committee. “UCB brings enormous talent, innovation, and resources to the Consortium, and we look forward to working with Dr. Schaletzky and her colleagues to help build fruitful connections with all of our campuses and our industrial partners.”
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: A simple contractual agreement provides funds for focused proof-of-concept studies or application of novel technologies in areas of direct interest to the sponsor. “UC DDC also provides outreach activities, student education, faculty continued education and training in translational medicine,” Dr. Schaletzky says. “The consortium will help with the dialogue between academic and private sector that’s necessary to develop truly novel, innovative approaches to treat disease”.
Featured photo: Director Dr. Julia Schaletzky and Scientist Eddie Wehri at the UCB Drug Discovery Center