Plenge Lab
Date posted: August 18, 2014 | Author: | No Comments »

Categories: Drug Discovery Human Genetics


A key learning from my time in academia was the value of collaborations. Much of my most enjoyable and productive research was conducted in collaboration with fellow scientists across the globe.

I am pleased to report that industry is no different.  After one year working for Merck, I have found that in addition to collaborations across the company ties with external scientific experts focused on advancing programs of interest are actively encouraged.

It is heartening to see how some recent progress in several notable drug development programs is leading to increased excitement around the application of human genetics in identifying human drug targets. As I have previously noted, human genetics can also provide insights to identifying pathways enriched for approved drugs (see Nature article here), which indicates that novel pathways may provide an important foundation for novel drug discovery programs.  Indeed, the use of pathway-based approaches, including phenotypic screens, can provide a powerful way to make complex genetic pathways actionable for drug discovery.

Today, I am excited to note that Merck has launched a Merck Innovation Network (MINt) Request for Proposals to identify collaborations with academic scientists to evaluate genetic targets or genetic pathways for their potential to become drug discovery programs.  A link to the MINt requests for proposals can be found here.

Founded in 2012, MINt was designed to establish strong collaborations with researchers to advance the most innovative therapeutic target, pathway and technology discoveries.

One unique feature of the MINt opportunity is that it allows access to resources often difficult to access for researchers outside of large pharmaceutical companies.  For example, as part of MINt, Merck has previously made available high-throughput small molecule or biological screening resources to advance tool generation.

Selected projects will be pursued in a collaborative fashion to ensure the optimal exchange of scientific ideas. This will lead not only to new ideas, but should generate opportunities for high-profile publications in peer reviewed journals and also yield biological reagents (e.g., tool compounds) to accelerate research efforts for promising targets and pathways.

To learn more and submit your proposal, please visit the Merck Innovators Network (MINt) website.


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