Bridging the Gap

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New facility established to help move research discoveries from laboratory to benefit patients.
Posted On: June 20, 2018
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The path of translating a research discovery into a product that benefits patients is frequently referred to by researchers as ‘crossing the valley of death’.

Every year, Krembil researchers make discoveries that provide new insight into the mechanisms that underpin arthritis, as well as diseases of the brain and eyes. Converting these discoveries into novel therapeutics and diagnostics—through a process known as knowledge translation—is a daunting and challenging task.

To support researchers in this pursuit, the Krembil Research Institute has established a new facility: the Centre for Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery (CMCDD). This facility is led by Dr. Mark A. Reed, a medicinal chemist with extensive experience in drug discovery and development in industry.

Once the facility is fully operational, Dr. Reed envisions that it will offer a variety of services to promote knowledge translation. It will work closely with researchers to assess the ‘translatability’ of their research and provide them with a roadmap of experiments that need to be completed to pique the interest of potential investors. The facility will employ medicinal chemists who will build compounds needed to validate new drug targets—an essential step in the drug discovery process. It will also assist researchers in securing funds to support preclinical and clinical studies.

Since his recruitment in August 2017, Dr. Reed has made significant progress in building CMCDD and nurturing relationships with researchers—its primary clientele. He has been advising several researchers and helping them prepare translational research grants, including some submitted to LAB150, a new initiative created by MaRS Innovation and the company Evotec to accelerate drug development. Two of the grants were selected to progress to the final stage of the competition.

The CMCDD is located on the 5th floor of the Krembil Discovery Tower where it has access to all of the equipment and resources needed for the Centre’s medicinal chemistry activities. Within the next two years, Dr. Reed plans to populate this space with up to five medicinal chemists to support drug discovery efforts.

“By providing key capabilities that facilitate knowledge translation, CMCDD will help UHN bridge the gap between scientific discovery and improved patient outcomes,” said Dr. Reed.

Dr. Mark Reed, Krembil Staff Scientist, Centre for Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery (CMCDD).