Connecting Academia and Pharmaceutical Industry – A Max Planck Initiative Toward Closing the Innovation Gap in Drug Discovery

Bert Klebl

Lead Discovery Center GmbH, Otto-Hahn-Str.15, 44227 Dortmund, Germany


The Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC), founded in 2008 by Max Planck Innovation GmbH and located in Dortmund/Germany, transforms results from basic research into novel drug candidates. LDC closely interacts with basic researchers, in particular with the scientists of the Max Planck Society to leverage excellent basic research from the different Max Planck research institutes. Therefore, LDC might be considered as a translational incubator for academic project ideas. Max-Planck's initiative of creating such a drug discovery incubator has come from insufficient commercialization of basic research results. In parallel, the pharmaceutical industry has started to significantly withdraw resources from early drug discovery. To date, LDC hosts an excellent drug discovery infrastructure, focusing on small molecule pharmaceuticals, covering all needs of drug discovery to the stage of preclinical development. LDC's infrastructure has not been exclusively built for Max-Planck projects only. It is open for collaborations with other parties as well, such as other academic institutions, biotech companies and pharmaceutical industry. Typical LDC products are high quality lead compounds with proof-of-concept in vivo or development candidates. Currently, LDC entertains a portfolio of ~20 highly innovative drug discovery projects, which are conducted in collaboration with either academic partners or industrial partners or both. Project entry criteria are the level of innovation and medical need. The entry stage for projects is flexible, either at the target or assay or compound (hit) stage - generally such projects are considered "early stage drug discovery". LDC transforms these innovative early-stage projects into attractive licensing opportunities.




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