Yale Center for Molecular Discovery created at West Campus

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Michael Kinch (left), managing director of the new Yale Center for Molecular Discovery Center, shows off West Campus lab to Rich Jacob, associate vice president for state and federal relations, and State Senator Gayle Slossberg (D-Milford) during a recent tour. (Photo by Michael Marsland)

The road from discovering a novel insight to turning it into a practical biomedical application is full of twists, turns, and dead ends, but a combined center at Yale’s West Campus seeks to provide University faculty with the knowledge and tools to navigate from basic science to new breakthroughs in disease management.

The Yale Center for Molecular Discovery (YCDM) consolidates two West Campus technology cores — the Center for High Throughput Cell Biology and the Small Molecule Discovery Center. The new center’s mission is to blend basic and applied scientific approaches to accelerate early-stage drug discovery. By analyzing complex processes within cells, researchers across many disciplines will work to identify opportunities to improve the diagnosis, prevention, or treatment of disease.

“We want to provide to the faculty the advice and equipment they need to begin the journey from discovery to development of new drugs,” says Michael Kinch, who will serve as the managing director of YCDM.

Researchers will have access to a wide variety of technology that will enable them to study the behavior of an entire cell or test the effects of a single molecule within a cell.

“This is one-stop shopping for scientists who are looking to take the next step in advancing their research,” says Scott Strobel, vice president for West Campus planning and programming.

Kinch’s background as a cancer researcher at Purdue University and his subsequent career in drug development for biotechnology companies gives him a unique perspective on the mission of the new center, notes Strobel.

The center will be staffed with individuals with experience in both academia and industry, who together will work to bridge the traditional divide between corporations and university scientists. This communication is expected to increase flexibility in development of drugs and their commercialization.

“The biopharmaceutical industry is in the midst of internal soul-searching, as the past business model does not appear viable moving forward,” said Craig Crews, professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology and executive director of the YCDM. “The new center will help spur early-stage drug development by helping to give members across the Yale research community the tools they need to take their discoveries to the next stage.”

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