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Two University of Pittsburgh Centers Selected for National Cancer Institute Chemical Biology Consortium

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 2, 2009 – Two University of Pittsburgh centers have been selected by SAIC-Frederick Inc., the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) prime contractor, to participate in the NCI’s Chemical Biology Consortium (CBC), a newly created network of government, industry and academic researchers who will work to discover and develop new cancer treatments. The University of Pittsburgh Chemical Diversity Center (UP-CDC) and the University of Pittsburgh Specialized Application Center (PSAC) have been chosen as two of the 12 participating centers.

The CBC is a component of the National Cancer Institute’s Experimental Therapeutics Program, which aims to streamline the development and testing of promising new anticancer drugs and expedite their delivery to patients. Through the Consortium, chemists, chemical biologists, computational chemists, pharmacologists and molecular oncologists will focus on identifying and developing novel cancer drugs that work on high-risk biological targets that have not been pursued by the commercial sector.

“The University of Pittsburgh Chemical Diversity Center has a strong tradition of collaborative research with internal as well as external scientists that have resulted in significant scientific contributions in the areas of chemical biology and drug discovery,” said Donna M. Huryn, Ph.D., principal investigator, UP-CDC research team, and research professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. “This is an exciting opportunity for us to work with researchers across the country to discover and develop novel cancer treatments. We look forward to contributing and applying our expertise in synthetic organic chemistry and natural product synthesis, medicinal chemistry and computational chemistry to projects that have the potential to provide significant advancements to science and benefit to cancer patients.”

Other members of the UP-CDC are co-principal investigators Peter Wipf, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor, Departments of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Arts and Sciences; and Gabriela Mustata, Ph.D., pharmacoinformatics specialist, Department of Computational Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

John S. Lazo, Ph.D., Allegheny Foundation Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine; director, University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute; and co-director, University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI) Molecular Therapeutics and Drug Discovery Program, will lead the PSAC research team.

“The University of Pittsburgh is extremely fortunate to be the only institution with two CBC centers. In the PSAC, we have the ability to design intelligent assays, and screen tens of thousands of compounds that will be valuable in our quest to discover new cancer treatments,” said Dr. Lazo.

The PSAC is co-directed by Paul A. Johnston, Ph.D., research associate professor, Department of Pharmacology and Chemical Biology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Other participating centers are: Burnham Center for Chemical Genomics, Emory Chemical Biology Discovery Center, Fragment Discovery Center at the University of California-San Francisco, Georgetown University Medical Center, NIH Chemical Genomics Center, Comprehensive Chemical Biology Center, Southern Research Institute, SRI International, University of Minnesota Chemical Diversity Center and Vanderbilt Chemical Diversity Center.

This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal Funds from the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, under Contract No. HHSN261200800001E. The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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