The Technology Chronicles

News and views from the digital frontier.

UCSF and Stanford join up in attempt to find better drugs faster


Two of the Bay Area’s powerhouse research institutions, UCSF and Stanford University, are teaming up with the Food and Drug Administration to start a center dedicated to speeding up and improving the drug development process, the universities said Monday.

The UCSF-Stanford Center of Excellence in Regulatory Science and Innovation will be launched with a $3.3 million FDA grant and primarily involve scientists from the UCSF School of Pharmacy, Stanford and the FDA. UCSF scientists from the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) and the Institute for Computational Health Sciences will also contribute.

The goal is to help the FDA better evaluate and approve safe and effective medications. Researchers will focus on three main areas: improving preclinical safety and efficacy tests; improving clinical trials and evaluation; and using large data sets to identify and develop promising new drugs.

That last area is known as quantitative pharmacology, and it’s of great interest to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, who are always  looking for new drugs that are safer, more effective and come with fewer side effects.

To that end, the center will focus on two research projects: one on predicting drug-induced weight gain, and the other on developing the first comprehensive, data-driven disease progression of multiple sclerosis, which will guide drug evaluation and approval for the disease.

The center will also offer courses in regulatory sciences and offer exchange programs for the FDA and academic scientists. Students and postdoctoral scholars will also be able to intern at the FDA.

UCSF and Stanford’s joint effort is the fourth of its kind in the nation. Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland and Georgetown University also operate centers under the FDA.

“The end result will be better, more effective products for patients,” said B. Joseph Guglielmo, dean of the UCSF School of Pharmacy, in a statement.

Categories: Biotech, Medical tech
Stephanie M. Lee