Columns & Interviews


Aspiring to be a Navigator of Innovative Drug Discovery Development

Three years have passed since the Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development (AMED) was established. The name and roles of AMED are becoming familiar among people who engage in medical research in academia and industry, but are still not well-recognized among patients and the general public. Prof. Makoto Suematsu, President of AMED, often encourages AMED staff with the message that the mission of AMED is to deliver the results of medical innovation to patients and their families in the earliest way. He demonstrates pride in our work, which encompasses more than just funding, and is determined to meet the expectation of patients who are awaiting the new medical therapies that follow from medical research in timely manner. His words essentially represent the mission to be fulfilled and the determination shared by all AMED staff.

AMED offers various programs to support drug development. Among them, the Drug Discovery Support Network, has unique qualities, as experienced AMED Science Coordinators, as an advisor, accompany researchers and collaborate to translate the results of research into clinical application. In the early phase of drug development, academic researchers and research projects need a wide range of support. More specifically, from a drug development perspective, advice on many aspects is provided, including what type of studies should be conducted, the provision of technology and archives of public research organizations and those from the private sector, and the collection and validation of necessary data by using the data from prospective seeds from academic researchers, and consideration of the strategic plan of intellectual property management and industry-university collaborations. Throughout the course of our support, there are situations in which we have to be daring and suggest ideas outside of the researchers’ comfort zone. Such suggestions are based on our mission to “deliver the results of the scientific research to patients and their families in the earliest way” with limited resources. In this situation, we try to explain reasons for our judgement and carefully suggest possible alternatives personalized to each researcher. I believe that discussions like that are very important for innovative drug discovery and development (iD3).

It takes a decade and the collective enthusiasm and expertise of many people to market a single new drug. We wish to navigate prospective seeds to patients in the best way to avoid deadlocks during this process. As navigators who “envision and go forward with researchers”, iD3 coordinators and all AMED staff members will continue to contribute to innovative drug discovery and development through this Drug Discovery Support Network project.

August 2018

Noriatsu Kono
Managing Director,
Department of Innovative Drug Discovery and Development
Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development

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