GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) said today it is launching this year’s version of its challenge for academic scientists interested in translating early-stage research into new drugs—and expanding the program beyond the U.S. and Canada, into Europe.

GSK’s 2014 Discovery Fast Track Challenge is inviting drug-hunting proposals from academic scientists who submit details about the biological targets or pathways they are researching, and a scientific rationale for how their early-stage research could impact future drug development.

Scientists selected by GSK will work with the company’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) team, which sponsors the challenge, in using GSK’s library of compounds to test their hypotheses on potential disease pathways or targets. Investigators win the challenge—a formal offer to partner with DPAc in developing a potential new medicine—if their pathways or targets show activity against a compound.

GSK will fund research in the successful academic partner’s laboratories, and provide in-kind resources. The company says the challenge is designed to speed up drug discovery by translating research into new medicines in just two to three months.

Last year’s challenge—the first to have run in the U.S. and Canada—received nearly 150 entries from 70 universities, academic research institutions, clinics, and hospitals across 17 therapeutic areas. Entries selected last year focused on disease areas including malaria, antibiotic resistance, and selected types of cancer.

GSK has launched 11 collaborations in 11 disease areas in the U.S., Canada, and Europe since launching the first challenge in the U.K. in late 2010. Would-be drug hunters can register for the challenge by submitting a brief summary of their novel drug development concept, including nonproprietary details of the biological target. A panel of GSK judges will select up to 20 finalists who will present their proposals in person.

Registration closes on April 23 in Europe, and on May 16 in North America. Up to 10 scientists in each region will be selected and announced later this year. Further details are available online at

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