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A year at the Medicines Discovery Institute

20 March 2020

A year since the Medicines Discovery Institute was launched, it’s team of researchers has secured millions in investment for new therapies in mental health and neuroscience.

On March 22 2019, Cardiff University launched the Institute. The newly founded research facility was created to translate the University’s cutting-edge biomedical research into new drugs for patients with an unmet medical need. A year on, the Institute is successfully putting Wales at the forefront of medical innovation.

By bringing together a world-leading, multidisciplinary team of scientists with the common goal of delivering patient benefit, the Institute has rapidly established itself as a state-of-the-art drug discovery research facility.

Professor Simon Ward, Director of the Medicines Discovery Institute, said: “When we launched the Institute in 2019, our vision was ambitious. We aimed to make our Institute a focal point for medicines discovery and innovation within Cardiff University and the wider UK academic community.

“We are perfectly positioned to translate our research into real products that can improve the lives of people all over the world. Twelve months on, we have been growing as an Institute and have already had numerous funding and research successes.”

Since its launch, the Medicines Discovery Institute has developed an impressive research portfolio, spanning the therapeutic areas of neuroscience and mental health– with the projects attracting research funding of around £14 million.

“Our research projects focus on developing new and improved therapies for diseases and conditions, from anxiety disorders all the way through fragile X syndrome. A year on since the Institute’s launch we have been able to bring in significant investment to fund our research.

“This includes £3.4 million from the Medical Research Council to fund new drugs for anxiety disorders, £2.5 million for LIMK1 inhibitors for the treatment of fragile X syndrome and an ISSF award to find new medication for schizophrenia.

“Our success has enabled us to invest in our facilities, to continue to develop our Institute and ensure it is leading in its technological capabilities to medicines discovery. The Wolfson Foundation provided us with £500,000 to fund a state-of-the-art Target Validation Laboratory Suite, to help our researchers discover new therapies for mental health and neurological conditions,” added Professor Ward.

As well as providing the ideal environment for medicines discovery, the Institute is also ensuring the future of medical innovation in Wales by training the next generation of world-leading researchers.

The Medicines Discovery Institute has appointed it’s first PhD student, Bedwyr Ab Ion Thomas, who is investigatingprion diseases, such as mad cow disease and kuru.

Professor John Atack, Co-Director of the Medicines Discovery Institute, said: “Whilst we house a number of experts in their field who spearhead our research projects, we are proud to also train and inspire student and early-career scientists.

“This means that through our research, we not only aim to develop the next generation of novel medicines but also develop the next generation of medicines discovery researchers in Wales.”

“Our first year as an Institute has been a tremendous success, as our projects, novel therapies and researchers have progressed. We look forward to what the next year has in store for the Medicines Discovery Institute,” said Professor Ward.

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