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Hit to lead optimisation of novel anti-TB scaffolds through an academic-industrial partnership (Coopera-TB)
Start date: Feb 1, 2014, End date: Jan 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

We propose a PhD programme for 4 Early-Stage Researchers (ESR) in tuberculosis (TB) drug discovery. Often associated with poverty, TB is rampant in many parts of Africa and Asia but has now also returned to developed nations. Growing resistance against currently used antibiotics is one of the most pressing problems of the global TB epidemic. Treating TB infections requires a drug cocktail given for at least 6 months, extending to 2 years for infections with multi-drug resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the agent causing TB. A largely successful campaign by the WHO to stem the global rise of TB has not diminished the urgent need for new and better drugs and cellular targets to alleviate the devastating impact of this disease.In this project, we will train 2 biochemists/biologists and 2 chemists in TB drug discovery, initially, for 18 months at the University of Birmingham, UK, followed by 18 months at the Tres Cantos campus of GSK DDW (Diseases of the Developing World) in Madrid, Spain. Upon successful completion of the programme, the ESRs will be awarded PhD degree titles by the University of Birmingham. In their individual, yet interconnected, research projects, the 4 ESRs will work on the hit-to-lead optimisation of inhibitors of 2 novel drug targets, M. tuberculosis DprE1 and QcrB, building on preliminary work done at Birmingham in collaboration with GSK DDW.The guiding principle of this joint academic-industrial PhD programme is to provide ESRs with a comprehensive perspective on the drug discovery process. By the time they graduate, they will not only have acquired in-depth knowledge of drug discovery and optimisation, but will also have made significant research contributions to a globally relevant disease area. Finally, through their exposure to both academic and industrial research environments, the ESRs can be expected to become effective advocates for future knowledge transfer and collaboration between academia and industry within Europe.

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