UCLan Research Centre for Drug Design and Development

centre for drug design and development

The UCLan Research Centre for Drug Design and Development will focus on the discovery and development of a wide-range of new therapies for a number of diseases, using a bench to bedside approach. The Centre will focus on identifying drug targets and designing new molecules to interact with them, using both traditional medicinal chemistry and computational chemistry approaches. Once designed, the compounds will be synthesised, purified and characterised, and their biological activity evaluated, using in vitro and in vivo techniques including in vivo models of disease states. Ultimately new drugs can be tested within the Lancashire Clinical Trials Unit situated at UCLan.

Lead compounds can be further developed into medicines by optimising formulations and developing their drug-like properties. A multidisciplinary approach will be used, combining researchers from a number of faculties, and different disciplines (pharmacology, computational chemistry, synthetic chemistry, biosciences and pharmaceutics), where structure-guided and target-driven methods will be employed in an effort to identify drug candidates and novel therapeutic agents.

in January 2020 the Centre hosted Dr Atticus Hainsworth, Reader in Cerebrovascular Disease at St George’s Medical School, London who gave a seminar  “Small vessels in old brains - a pipeline to dementia".  He is an expert in the pathology of cerebral small vessel disease, which is the primary cause of lacunar stroke and vascular cognitive impairment. His interests are in the pathological processes that underlie small vessel disease and associated white matter lesions. He has explored pathogenic mechanisms of small vessel disease in human brain tissue derived from large cohorts (primarily the OPTIMA and MRC-CFAS cohorts). He has authored systematic reviews of animal models relevant to vascular cognitive impairment, and chairs the vascular experimental medicine group within Dementias Platform UK.

Our main areas of research are:

Strand 1

Target identification and assay development; hit identification

Strand 2

Drug design (computational chemistry; synthetic chemistry; analytical chemistry; drug delivery and preformulation)

Strand 3

Preclinical research (in vitro and in vivo testing) including animal models of psychiatric and neurological conditions

Strand 4


Drug development (absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion - ADME; mechanism of action studies; formulation design; dosage form optimisation) and beyond into clinical trials

Seminar Programme

We deliver a varied programme of seminars throughout the year, these are free to attend, and no booking is required.

04/12/19  Prof Clare Gibson, University of Nottingham  ‘Protecting the brain – the importance of biological sex and age’ 
11/12/19  Prof Jolanta Opacka-Juffry, University of Roehampton  Social stress 
19/12/19 Prof John Moore, Belfast City Hospital Treatment multiple drug resistant strains of CF pathogens
29/01/20  Prof Jason Micklefield, University of Manchester   Discovery, characterisation and engineering synthetic pathways towards bioactive molecules.
11/02/20  Prof Jason Sisante  What’s good for your heart is great for your brain
28/02/20  Dr. Amit Patel, University of Liverpool, 
12-1pm,  FBLT4
 Clinical trials in CAR-T Cell therapy
4/3/20 Lisa Lione, University of Hertfordshire
1-2pm, FBLT4
Pain assessment in Rodents:  the importance of translatability and welfare
25/3/20 Prof Amal Elkordy, University of Sunderland
1-2pm, FBLT2
 Development of novel gene delivery systems based on cyclodextrins and liposomes

Professor Rob Forbes took part in a podcast for The Conversation in early 2020 about his research into personalised medicine for children using 3D Printing technology – the article containing the podcast is called ‘From 3D printing drugs to social prescribing – Medicine made for you part 3’.

To find out more please contact the Centre Director, Professor Colin Davidson or the Centre Deputy Director, Dr Tim Snape.

drug design

Novel kinase inhibitor bound to CDK2

drug design

In vivo image of a rodent brain tumour used to test for novel treatments for glioblastoma