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Merck Fellows Share Skills for Drug Discovery

By October 2, 2018No Comments

 As part of the prestigious Merck Fellowship for Global Health program, IDRI (Infectious Disease Research Institute) is hosting three Fellows in Seattle for three months to assist IDRI scientists in implementing drug metabolism and pharmacokinetic (DMPK) studies, a critical component of a fast-functioning, productive drug discovery program. The Merck Fellows come from around the world bringing expertise ranging from account management to chemistry.

The Merck Fellowship for Global Health is a three-month, field-based corporate pro bono program designed to leverage the skills and talents of Merck employees. It connects employees from Merck with nonprofit partner organizations around the world to help make meaningful and systematic improvements in health service delivery for people in the greatest need. This marks the fourth time that IDRI was selected by Merck as a Fellowship partner.

“The Merck Fellows assigned to IDRI are helping us bridge a critical gap in our drug discovery efforts,” said Tanya Parish, PhD., SVP of Drug Discovery at IDRI. “We currently rely on external partners for DMPK studies, which becomes a rate-limiting step for moving compounds through the drug discovery pipeline. While we have the infrastructure to perform these experiments in-house, we currently lack the technical expertise required to successfully run a DMPK program. That’s where the Fellows come in.”

The Merck Fellows at IDRI – Sana Ali, John Limanto, PhD, Karsten Menzel, PhD – are providing training on experimental design, instrument use and data interpretation. “By adding these capabilities to our program, we will be able to analyze hit and lead compounds, quickly aiding our efforts to identify a preclinical candidate for combatting TB infection,” said Parish.

“We are making good progress on all fronts,” said Limanto, who works as a Senior Principal Scientist in Chemistry at Merck. “It is challenging at times, but it’s nothing short of excitement. But as importantly, we are also here to learn new things, acquire new knowledge and build tangible skills that we could bring back to Merck. Having been indulged with a plethora of resources at Merck, we are figuring out creative ways to perform our work amid constraints resources and funding in a nonprofit setting. And of course, more often than not, we have to stretch beyond our comfort zone in order to grow.”

“We are honored to host our fourth cohort of Merck Fellows, who are bringing specific expertise and insight to our drug discovery program,” said Steve Reed, Ph.D., IDRI Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer.