The Yale Center for Molecular Discovery (YCMD) works with partners within Yale and the Connecticut bioscience community to convey its early-stage drug discovery and research expertise. Its capabilities extend from the development and interrogation of customized assays through application of computational, medicinal and synthetic chemistries to advance promising hits. Over the past few years, the scientists at YCMD have experienced particular success with drug repurposing. In brief, the idea of drug repurposing is to canvas all approved drugs and identify potential new uses since the discovery of new applications can greatly accelerate translation of basic scientific findings into new treatments for unmet medical needs.

Like a handful of other screening centers across the globe, YCMD relied upon a commercially-available subset of FDA-approved drugs. In an effort to deploy a comprehensive collection, a question immediately arose as to the identity of all FDA-approved drugs. Surprisingly, the answer to this question was not immediately obvious as many older drugs are no longer available.

In response, YCMD took on a challenge of identifying all new molecular entities (NMEs), both small molecule and biologics, which have gained approval from FDA. Additional information was captured such as the mechanistic basis for drug efficacy, the dates of approval and the contributions of the various organizations (both companies and universities) towards drug development. In particular, the Center sought to identify organizations responsible for the first patent, the submission of the investigational new drug application (IND) and contributions to clinical trials. Given the tumultuous nature of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, particularly in the past few decades, the fate of each organization was also tracked over time.

The consequence was the development of a database of information about FDA-approved drugs, which have revealed vignettes about trends and changes in the drug development enterprise. To convey this wealth of information, a series of 20 peer-reviewed articles are being composed for Drug Discovery Today, a leading journal focused on biopharmaceutical research and development. The articles are scheduled to be published over the next year.


By Michael S. Kinch, Ph.D.
Managing Director – Yale Center for Molecular Discovery

Dr. Michael Kinch, of Madison, CT, has led the Yale Center for Molecular Discovery on the Yale West Campus in West Haven, CT since 2010.   As a brief background, Dr. Kinch was a tenured professor at Purdue University focused on monoclonal antibody targeting of breast and prostate cancer metastasis.  In 2001, he was recruited to found and lead the Department of Cancer Biology and later in parallel, the Department of Translational Sciences at MedImmune Inc., a biotechnology company located in Gaithersburg, MD.  He left MedImmune in 2006 to head research at development at Functional Genetics, Inc., also in Gaithersburg, MD prior to joining Yale. Dr Kinch has published more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts and is an inventor on more than a dozen US-issued and 100 published patents.