The Discovery Fast Track Challenge, launched in February, is designed to translate academic research into starting points for new potential medicines. The program combines the expertise of academic researchers with that of drug discovery scientists at GSK.

Of 428 entries across North America and Europe, 14 winning proposals were selected. The proposals covered a wide range of approaches and disease areas, from searching for new antibiotics or antivirals, to discovering new treatments for cardiovascular and kidney diseases. The winning scientists will work with GSK’s Discovery Partnerships with Academia (DPAc) and Molecular Discovery Research teams to test their hypotheses on targets and disease pathways against GSK’s library of compounds.

If a compound is identified during this process that shows activity against these pathways or targets, the winning investigators could be offered a formal partnership with GSK, to refine these molecules and work together on the development of a potential new medicine.

The winning investigators, by region, are:

United States/Canada

• Dr. John Burnett Jr, Mayo Clinic, and Dr. Siobhan Malany, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute: Discovery of anti-hypertensive agents
• Maureen Murphy, The Wistar Institute, Prof. Donna George and Julia Leu, The Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania: Cancer therapy
• Prof. Stefan Strack, University of Iowa: Targeting mitochondrial fragmentation for neuroprotection
• Vanessa Sperandio, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center: Targeting bacterial infections
• Tania Watts, University of Toronto: Treatment of B-cell lymphomas


• Morris Brown, University of Cambridge (U.K.): Primary hyperaldosteronism
• Dr. Federica Briani, Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy): Targeting bacterial infections
• Dr. Christos Chatziantoniou, National Institute of Health and Medical Research (France): Chronic kidney disease
• Giulio Superti-Furga and Dr. Kilian Huber, CeMM (Austria): Cancer therapy
• Steve Jackson and Dr. Delphine Larrieu, University of Cambridge (UK): Treatment of inherited laminopathies
• Andrew Lever, University of Cambridge (U.K.): Targeting HIV infection
• Michael Marber, King’s College London (U.K.): Ischaemic heart disease
• Dr. Geerten van Nieuw Amerongen, VU University Medical Center (The Netherlands): Treatment of vascular leakage and edema
• Dr. Simon Wagner, University of Leicester (U.K.): Cancer therapy

Work on many of the winning Discovery Fast Track projects has already started and GSK expects the first compound screens to be completed by mid-2015.

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