Drug discovery is a multidisciplinary process by which new therapeutics are developed. From initial target identification to late stage clinical trials, a wide range of scientific personnel are required from across the biosciences and beyond. Biologists, protein scientists, medicinal chemists, pharmacologists, toxicologists and computational scientists all have key roles to play. This process is vital as it is the means by which new drugs, often with novel modes of action, become available to patients.
Drug discovery teams work in various guises in the UK. They can be found as part of multinational pharmaceutical companies, small biotechnology firms, contract research organisations (CROs), academic institutions and, most recently, as part of so-called therapeutic centres of excellence, where researchers work together cross-sector.
The drug discovery landscape has undergone considerable change in recent times. Previously dominated by the large multinational pharmaceutical companies, many of these have now closed or scaled-down their UK sites resulting in job losses.
The Society of Biology has responded to these changes by feeding information into government consultations and by acting as part of the Drug Discovery Pathways Group (DDPG) - a consortium of learned societies formed to address this changing panorama.
Society of Biology response to the Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry on the commercialisation of research includes some information on the pharma sector in the UK.
Further information about the Royal Society of Biology's collaborative efforts in this area can be found via the Drug Discovery Pathways Group.
The Royal Society of Biology has a number of supporting Member Organisations involved in the drug discovery landscape. More information about their work is on their websites: