Going from basic science to therapeutics
Our Drug Discovery Unit is a translational engine to convert basic scientific discoveries into therapeutic opportunities. Its outstanding success over the past 6 years mean we need more space to accommodate the screening technology and medicinal chemistry required to deliver solutions to these projects. We are therefore undertaking a major capital project to build a state-of-the-art Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research (CTIR) that will allow us to double our drug discovery capacity and also bring these scientists into juxtaposition with mathematical and computational biology.
Encouraging and expanding mathematical, physical and computational biology
The Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research will also help break down artificial barriers between the scientific disciplines. It will bring bioinformaticians, mathematicians, physicists and software developers together in a location at the heart of the College of Life Sciences complex to stimulate 'lateral' collaborations among themselves and 'vertical' collaborations with biological and drug discovery experimentalists. One of the activities to be housed in the CTIR will be Jason Swedlow’s award-winning Open Microscopy Environment (OME) programme that was recently awarded a significant Wellcome Trust Strategic Award and that will deliver a suite of solutions for all working in image-based biomedical research.
Providing mechanisms to encourage interdisciplinary biomedical research
Whether translational medical research is in the direction of “going from clinical intervention to basic science” or “going from basic science to therapeutics” or, indeed, both, new ideas and collaborations can benefit from pump-priming funds to get projects off the ground and to generate preliminary data with which to make a stronger case for substantive support. The University runs a University of Dundee and Wellcome Trust Translational Medical Research Fund specifically to help our scientists and clinicians work together on innovative projects.
Pushing technological boundaries in biomedical research
Successful research requires access to, and the development of, key technologies. Much of our research utilises advanced Quantitative Proteomics methods and Angus Lamond and colleagues are pushing the boundaries of applying proteomics to obtain spatio-temporal data on how cells respond to natural, genetic and drug stimuli. We are planning to expand our proteomics capabilities and, importantly, our Data Analysis capabilities to support these large-scale experiments and ‘super-experiments’ that interrogate combined and cumulative data sets. Another area under active development by our developmental biologists and immunologists is Tissue Imaging, where the ability to see and track cells and molecular markers over time in living tissue provides deep insights into biological processes.
A new era for the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit (MRC-PPU)
Under the direction of Professor Sir Philip Cohen FRS, the MRC-PPU has established an international reputation for excellence in Cell Signalling research. This has been augmented by the creation, by Sir Philip Cohen, of the Scottish Institute for Cell signalling (SCILLs) focussing on protein ubiquitylation.
From 1st April 2012, the MRC will incorporate the Protein Ubiquitylation Unit of SCILLs and, under its new Director, Professor Dario Alessi, FRS, it will forge new directions focussing on how understanding cell signalling can help tackle human disease.