Projects evaluating liver toxicity are already under way.

The Hamner Institutes for Health Sciences and the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill have started The Institute for Drug Safety Sciences. It is located on The Hamner’s 56-acre campus in Research Triangle Park and includes a 14,000-sq-ft research laboratory.

The Institute will be led by Paul Watkins, M.D., the Verne S. Caviness distinguished professor of medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Watkins has reportedly already assembled a group of scientists and academic partners to develop new global drug safety initiatives in collaboration with the bio/pharmaceutical industry, the NIH, and the FDA. A major initial focus will be to develop new computational models and in vitro assays, starting first with evaluating liver toxicity and expanding into cardiovascular and kidney drug side effects.
Scientists at the institute began their first initiative in March by entering a partnership with Entelos. By creating a virtual liver model, the researchers hope to predict how pharmaceutical drugs and chemical agents damage the liver. The project also supports the FDA’s Critical Path Initiative, which aims to reduce the time it takes to develop and approve safe and effective medical products. 

The institute also signed an agreement with the Shanghai Center for Disease Control to conduct a study in patients who have experienced liver toxicity as a result of taking drugs to treat tuberculosis.

The Institute for Drug Safety Sciences was established through a memorandum of understanding signed by The Hamner and UNC in April 2008 and a $10 million funding commitment received in September 2008. 

Recently, The Hamner entered translational research and business development partnership with China Medical City and Newsummit Biopharma to establish an Institute for International Drug Development to further enhance the process of taking drugs from the bench to the bedside.

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