Structural Genomics Consortium Principal Investigators Receive $4.3 Million Infrastructure Award to Transform Early Drug Discovery at the University of Toronto


Structural Genomics Consortium Principal Investigators Receive $4.3 Million Infrastructure Award to Transform Early Drug Discovery at the University of Toronto

by: SGC

Toronto, March 13, 2024 – The Structural Genomics Consortium’s (SGC) Principal Investigators at the University of Toronto have been awarded a $4.3-million infrastructure award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Ontario Research Fund (ORF) through the 2023 Innovation Fund competition. This funding will support the infrastructure required for launching the new phase of SGC, focusing on the development of Target Enabling Packages (TEPs) and the prioritization of data generation, benchmarking, and production of high-quality, machine-learning-readable datasets.

The Innovation Fund provides investments in infrastructure to help Canada remain at the forefront of exploration and knowledge generation while making meaningful contributions to generating social, health, environmental and economic benefits and addressing global challenges. The Ministry of Colleges and Universities - Ontario Research Fund: The Research Infrastructure program matches the CFI contribution. Among the 100 projects that were approved, SGC's Centre for Protein Target Enabling Packages (ProTEP) will allow the creation of molecular tools by efficiently generating high-quality data, ultimately transforming experimental science into a more computational approach.

While more than 20 years have passed since the sequence of the human genome, the study of novel genes, the proteins they encode, and their exploitation for innovative medicines are prevented by a lack of research tools and reagents, which are difficult and expensive to produce. Among the most impactful and needed tools are protein-specific reagents and knowledge called Target Enabling Packages (TEPs), including purified proteins, assay protocols, 3D structures and chemical probes (the first step in a drug discovery program). SGC-Toronto will combine artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted drug discovery with biophysics, structural and chemical biology to investigate hundreds of proteins linked to diseases and potential drug targets, addressing this critical gap in high-quality research tools.

This new infrastructure will serve as a cutting-edge research hub and a training ground for researchers, providing expertise in target-based early drug discovery methodologies and machine learning-assisted computational methods.

Dr. Cheryl Arrowsmith, Chief Scientific Officer at SGC-Toronto, highlighted “By combining the protein expertise and network of industry partners of the SGC with AI expertise from CACHE and the Acceleration Consortium newly founded Self Driving Lab, this new infrastructure awarded in this CFI IF, will enable us to create an unparalleled open science drug discovery technology hub in Canada and Ontario not available anywhere else.”

Notably, the 2023 Innovation Fund award represents one of the three CFI/ORF awarded to SGC-Toronto Principal Investigators in the last two years, including two John R. Evans Leaders Fund awards to Cheryl Arrowsmith, Matthieu Schapira “Enabling the rapid evaluation of the WDR family of proteins as human drug targets” and Levon Halabelian “Enabling a high-throughput drug discovery pipeline for targeting disease-related human proteins”. Combined, these three CFI/ORF awards represent over $7.5M in infrastructure investments at the SGC laboratory at the University of Toronto, showcasing the consortium's consistent commitment to advancing scientific research in early drug discovery.

"This funding is a testament to the confidence in our vision to make Toronto a global powerhouse in function discovery by attracting top talent and fostering collaborations with industry and academia," added Dr. Aled Edwards, Chief Executive Officer at SGC.

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About the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC)

The Structural Genomics Consortium is a global public-private partnership that seeks to accelerate drug discovery by fostering collaboration among a large network of scientists in academia and industry and making all research outputs openly available to the scientific community. The current SGC research sites are located at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Karolinska Institute, McGill University, University College, London, the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the University of Toronto