Translational drug discovery and development

We cover the entire spectrum from target identification to the evaluation of the efficacy and safety of novel medicines in clinical practice.

The past century has seen a tremendous growth in the number of effective drugs against many diseases. In recent years, however, the number of novel drugs per year has remained essentially the same, despite dramatic increases in the research budgets of the pharmaceutical industry. Moreover, many of these new drugs are not truly innovative, but rather improvements of existing drugs. For many diseases imposing a major burden on both the individual and society there is a need for more effective pharmacological treatments.

The World Health Organization report ‘Priority Medicines for Europe and the World’ (WHO Geneva, 200 4) identifies several ‘high burden’ diseases for which no active treatment is currently available, including infectious diseases, a range of chronic diseases of the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system, auto-immune disorders and cancer. In our ageing society, the number of patients with these chronic diseases is growing. In the past decade, another important trend has become evident: an increasing proportion of innovative new drugs emerge from small biotech companies typically working in close collaboration with academia. A recent example from the LUMC is the peptide vaccine for HPV-induced cervical cancer.

The above observations underscore both the need for co-operation between clinical and pharmacological research, and the significance of the role of academia in target identification and drug discovery, design and development. Two important conditions for innovative drug development come together within Leiden University and the LUMC. The Leiden-Amsterdam Center for Drug Research (LACDR), combined with research groups from the Leiden Faculty of Science, has a strong international reputation in research focused on target identification, drug discovery/ design and pre-clinical drug development. The LUMC is among the frontrunners in fundamental, translational and clinical research. These groups merged to create the new Leiden Center for Translational Drug Discovery & Development (LCTD3) that covers the entire spectrum of innovative drug research from target identification to the evaluation of the operational efficacy and safety of novel medicines in clinical practice. This alliance provides opportunities for innovative drug research which are unique in Europe.


  • Piet Hein van der Graaf, Professor of Systems Pharmacology, Faculty of Science 
  • Henk-Jan Guchelaar, Professor of Clinical Pharmacy, Leiden University Medical Center

Participating Faculties
  • Faculty of Science
  • Leiden University Medical Center

Individual Grants Awarded
  • Royal Academy Professorship: 1
  • Vici: 1
  • Vidi: 3
  • Veni: 3

Last Modified: 04-12-2013