ARTICLE | Cover Story

Small (molecule) thinking in academia

June 2, 2011 7:00 AM UTC

A team at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has analyzed the status of small molecule drug discovery in academia in the U.S. and documented a large jump over the last six years, with the number of dedicated centers more than doubling during that period.1 The result has been an uptick in commercial activity at these centers, including new company formation and collaborations or licensing deals with biopharmas. Although some of these efforts have led to drug leads, the biggest potential impact of academic drug discovery may be in the generation of research compounds for pharmacological validation of new targets.

Going forward, key challenges include funding academia's drug discovery effort and overcoming potential valuation disconnects between academia and industry...