EXCELLENCE IN DRUG

DISCOVERY

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The UC DDC Combines the Drug Discovery Potential of Seven Extraordinary UC Campus Medical Centers

B U I L D I N G  A  D R U G  D I S C O V E R Y 

N E T W O R K 

The University of California Drug Discovery Consortium (UC DDC) is a cross-campus initiative aimed at building a drug discovery community that actively promotes research translation through industry partnerships.  


The UC DDC was created by the University of California Biomedical Research Acceleration, Integration & Development (UC BRAID) Drugs, Devices, Diagnostics, Development (D4) group, and it has since expanded to actively include industry sponsors.  Support for the consortium has been provided by a UC Office of the President (UCOP) Multi-Campus Research Proposal Initiative grant (MRPI) and its industry sponsor(s).  

S U P P O R T I N G  G R O U N D B R E A K I N G 

R E S E A R C H

A core mission of the UC DDC is to provide funding and mentorship for UC researchers to advance the creation of drugs that address important unmet medical needs.  The primary mechanism of funding opportunities for UC researchers is through the DDC's Annual Seed Grant Award.  This early-stage funding helps accelerate projects to a position of seeking advanced stage funding or investment.  UC researchers additionally benefit from drug discovery education and training workshops sponsored by the DDC, and members are also provided with expedited access to CORE facilities across the UC system. 

C R E A T I N G  A  B R I D G E  T O 

C O M M E R C I A L I Z A T I O N

To support the translation and development of drug discovery research, the UC DDC prioritizes building partnerships with industry members.  Industry sponsors have an opportunity to co-develop early-stage projects with UC researchers and gain early access to licensing.  Partners benefit from a tailored request for application (RFA) in the DDC's Annual Seed Grant Award process, whereby submissions are enriched for industry members' therapeutic areas of interest.  Proposal submissions are gathered from all seven participating UC campuses, and faculty site leads may advise on project selection.  Once selected projects begin, collaborating industry partners and UC researchers have cross-campus access to drug discovery CORE facilities by way of signing a single consortium agreement. 

 
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E X E C U T I V E  

C O M M I T T E E 

Meet the UC Campus Leads

The UC DDC is governed by a diverse group of experts in drug discovery and development that serve as site lead representatives for their respective UC campuses.

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Melanie Cocco, PhD - University of California, Irvine

Melanie Cocco has a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Penn State and was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Yale in the Department of Biophysics and Biochemistry.  The Cocco lab at UCI uses Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy as well as other biophysical and molecular biology techniques to study membrane proteins and DNA binding proteins.

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Robert Damoiseaux, PhD - University of California, Los Angeles

Robert Damoiseaux’s main interests are in Drug Discovery and Development. He has extensively published on the development of novel assay technology platforms, High Throughput Screening, High Content Screening and nanotechnology. He is the Director of the Molecular Shared Screening Resources (MSSR) at the California NanoSystems Institute of UCLA and Professor in the Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology and is inventor on numerous patents.

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Michael Gilson, MD, PhD - University of California, San Diego

Dr Gilson’s lab focuses on theory, methods, and applications of computer-aided drug design.  He has contributed to the development of a number of technologies in this area, including the creation and maintenance of BindingDB, the first publicly accessible database of protein-small molecule binding data.  Dr. Gilson is currently on the faculty of UC San Diego’s Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. 

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Michael Rogawski, MD, PhD - University of California, Davis

Dr. Rogawski is Professor of Neurology and Pharmacology at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine. His research encompasses discovery of neurological therapeutics, characterization of drug mechanism, and early and later stage drug development. Dr. Rogawski is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was awarded the UC Davis Chancellor's Innovator of the Year Award for inventing the drug Zulresso™.

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Jason Gestwicki, PhD - University of California, San Francisco

Jason E. Gestwicki, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Associate Director of the Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF). His research group uses high throughput screening and medicinal chemistry to develop potential treatments for protein misfolding diseases.  

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Maurizio Pellecchia, PhD - University of California, Riverside

Dr. Pellecchia is a Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine of the University of California Riverside (UCR) and is the founding Director of the Center for Molecular and Translational Medicine at UCR.  His research laboratory focuses on the design of novel pharmacological tools and therapeutics in oncology, neurodegeneration, and other disease areas.

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Julia Schaletzky, PhD - University of California, Berkeley

Dr. Julia Schaletzky is the Founder of the UCB Drug Discovery Center, the Executive Director of the Center for Emerging and Neglected Diseases, as well as of the Immunotherapy and Vaccine Research Initiative at UC Berkeley. An expert in drug discovery and preclinical development, Dr. Schaletzky has more than 10 years industry experience, contributing to the development of first-in-class therapies for heart failure and neurodegenerative diseases. 

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Scott R. Lokey, PhD - University of California, Santa Cruz

Dr. Scott R. Lokey is a Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research group focuses on the relationship between molecular structure and drug-like properties, especially cell permeability. Professor Lokey is also the director of the UCSC Chemical Screening Center, a high-throughput screening facility dedicated to early stage lead discovery, and is co-founder of Circle Pharma, a biotech startup focusing on the discovery of cyclic peptide inhibitors against intracellular targets.

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P R O G R A M 

M A N A G E M E N T

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Jordan Kovacev, PhD - Executive Director

Dr. Kovacev is the Executive Director of the UCDDC (ad. int.) and is responsible for partnership development and program management. Additionally, he is Director of Business Development for the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA. He previously served as a Strategic Management Officer with the United Nations and the U.S. State Department. Dr. Kovacev has a doctoral degree from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

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Jenaro Soto, PhD - DDC Fellow

Jenaro Soto is the a fellow of the UCDDC. Additionally, he is PhD student in Pharmaceutical Science program at the University of California, Irvine. 

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