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2013-2014 Drug Discovery Initiative (DDI) Awards Announced


We are pleased to announce internal grant awards for four drug discovery research projects to be conducted by groups of Temple faculty members. These awards are part of the Temple University Drug Discovery Initiative established in 2010 to encourage and support collaborative research with the Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research in the School of Pharmacy. The awarded projects were selected through an internal competition for research projects relating to the identification and development of new therapeutics to treat human diseases or dysfunctions.


Proposals submitted in response to the Call for Drug Discovery concept Papers issued in May 2013 and extended through July 2013 were evaluated on the extent to which they support the following criteria:


  • scientific merit/rationale
  • likelihood of the target translating to or impacting on a human disease state
  • likelihood of success (project transitioning to a viable drug discovery project)
  • likelihood of the completed project qualifying for additional, external funding
  • likelihood of producing intellectual property leading to commercialization


Launched in 2010, the Drug Discovery Initiative grant program provides support for collaborative research with the Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research, a unit of Temple University's School of Pharmacy. Four new programs will receive funding in the 2013-2014 round of awards.


The awared projects are:


  • Microbial Drug Resistance
    PI: Bettina Buttaro
    Microbiology & Immunology, TUSM
    Goal of the Project: Microbial drug resistance is an increasing threat to our ability to treat bacterial diseases with antibiotics. Horizontal gene transfer has been identified as key method of transferring resistance between bacteria. This program will identify small molecule that disrupt pre-cCFIO binding to PrgW, a key point in horizontal gene transfer.


  • Neuroprotective Agents for Cerebral Palsy
    PI: Tanya Ferguson
    Shriners Pediatric Research Center, TUSM
    Goal of the Project: Investigation of novel glutamate transporter-I (GLT-I) modulators in preventing Cerebral Palsy (CP), as well as other diseases where glutamate toxicity occurs, such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, Huntington's and Parkinson's Disease.


  • Novel Target in Heart Failure disease: AP J receptor
    PI: Cecilia Scimia
    Center for Translational Medicine, TUSM in Collaboration with CST
    Goal of the Project: The ApelinlAPJ system is emerging as a very promising candidate for the treatment of heart failure as a result of its impact on the mechanical function of the heart. The goal of this program is the identification of novel compounds capable of selectively activating the Apelin Receptor (APJ) and inhibiting its ligand-independent response to mechanical loading.


  • Interferon- 1 Pathways inhibitors for melanoma therapy and prevention
    PI: Raza Zaidi
    Biochemistry/ Fels, TUSM
    Goal of the project: The Interferon-y (INFG) pathway has been identified as a viable target for melanoma therapeutics and prevention. This program will identify INFG inhibitors through high-throughput screening and promising IFNG inhibitors will be validated in vitro, mouse allograft models, and in a UV -induced melanoma mouse model for their ability to treat and/or prevent melanoma.


In conjunction with the award, the recipients will be required to provide a brief presentation on their project and Moulder Center involvement at the annual DDI Award Seminar, to be held I January/February 2014. In addition, publications and commercialization programs that occur as result of this funding should cite the Drug Discovery Initiative award as part of their documentation of sources of funding. The committee would like to congratulate all of the awardees and looks forward to hearing about their successful research efforts in the near future.



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