Drug Discovery and Optimisation - NUS Medical Sciences Cluster


Our Mission

The Drug Discovery and Optimisation Programme (DDOP) has the primary objective of empowering researchers to generate a pipeline of new molecular entities with potentially high therapeutic value.

Who We Are

We are biomedical researchers interested in translating fundamental observations into clinical drug candidates. We have expertise in complementary areas that span the drug development continuum, from target identification to validation with disease models.

What We Do

One of the goals of the DDOP is to build a Lead Optimisation Platform that would provide end-to-end drug development capabilities for all researchers within NUS, as well as for our academic and industry partners in Singapore and overseas. This platform aims to fill existing gaps in the drug development work flow by providing infrastructure and expertise for projects with translational potential at the discovery stage and beyond, through research collaboration and/or contract research agreement. Capabilities include assay development; screening of synthetic compounds and natural products; small molecules and biologics development; and validation studies using in vitro and in vivo models.

To achieve this goal, we are pursuing the following aims:

  • Develop a pipeline of leads to drug candidates for clinical development
  • Be a leading drug discovery, development and screening center
  • Develop joint grants as well as collaborative and contract research for drug discovery and development
  • Be self-sustained in 3-5 years
  • Educate MSc/PhD candidates with specialization in drug discovery, development and screening technology and regulation to support industries
  • Educate medical, pharmacy and life science students on the fundamental principles of drug development

We have the following drug development resources:

  • Infrastructure for Compound Screening and Cellular Assays
    • Operetta® Automated High-Content Imaging System
    • FlexStation® 3 Multi-Mode Microplate Reader (time-resolved fluorescence, luminescence, absorbance, liquid handler)
    • Cytation™ Multi-Mode Reader (automated imaging, near high-content screening, fluorescence, luminescence, absorbance)
    • PHERAstar® HTS Reader (Alphascreen, fluorescence, luminescence, absorbance)
    • Electrophysiology (multichannel system and multiclamp)
    • Semi-preparative High-Performance Liquid Chromatography
    • Sample Concentrator, Evaporator, Lyophilizer
  • Drug Validation
    • Expertise in multiple in vitro and in vivo models of infection and immunity, as well as inflammatory and neurological disorders, including the expertise and resources at the Neuroscience Phenotyping Core
  • Pharmacokinetics
    • Fully equipped analytical laboratory for pharmacokinetics studies

The Way Forward

The DDOP brings together the resources and expertise required for creative, academically-driven drug discovery and development. As industry drug pipelines continue to contract, pharmaceutical companies increasingly look towards academic research to maintain a stable flow of novel lead compounds and drug candidates. This aligns with the fundamental purpose of NUSMed’s Medical Sciences Cluster: to advance healthcare in Singapore.

This programme will utilize the translational potential of our partnering researchers by identifying their most promising, but underexploited, drug targets. We will collaborate with these researchers to develop optimal screening assays and validation studies. This will be further facilitated by external collaborations with entities including the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology, regional institutes with extensive natural product libraries, and multiple regional biotechnology companies. We expect that our strategic approach will provide a higher rate of success in advancing “hits” to lead drug compounds, and out-licensing to or developing these lead compounds with industry partners.

Faculty Involved in the MSC Drug Discovery and Optimisation Programme

Researcher Department (*non-NUS Medicine) Contribution to DDOP
W.S. Fred Wong Pharmacology Director / Inflammation models
Gavin Dawe Pharmacology Deputy Director / Neuro models
Christina Chai Li Lin Pharmacy (FoS)* Medicinal chemistry
Justin Chu Jang Hann Microbiology & Immunology Drug screening
Edward Chow Pharmacology Drug Screening
Christopher Chen Pharmacology PK-PD / PKG
Chen Ee Sin Biochemistry Drug Screening
Chester Lee Drum Biochemistry PK-PD / PKG
Goh Boon Cher Cancer Science Institute PK-PD / PKG
Goh Mei Lin Pharmacy (FoS)* Medicinal chemistry
Deron Herr Pharmacology Drug Screen / Inflammation models
Alan Prem Kumar Pharmacology/CSI Inflammation models
Mitchell Lai Pharmacology Drug Screening / Neuro models
Lau Aik Jiang Pharmacology PK-PD / PKG
Lawrence Lee NUH* PK-PD / PKG
Paul Macary Microbiology & Immunology Drug Screening / Biologics
Gautam Sethi Pharmacology Inflammation models
Sim Tiow Suan Microbiology & Immunology Infection models
Kevin Tan Microbiology & Immunology Infection models
Hanry Yu Physiology Regenerative medicine, in vitro liver diseases models, tissueomics, digital Pathology of liver and gastrointestinal diseases, organs on chip, physiology of bile canaliculi and canals of herring
Thai Tran Physiology Inflammation models
Wang Lingzhi Cancer Science Institute PK-PD /PKG
Richard Wong Ming Wah Chemistry (FoS)* Medicinal chemistry
Zhao Yu Chemistry (FoS)* Medicinal chemistry