There is a well-documented knowledge and resource gap in translating basic research into novel therapeutics. Outside of the pharmaceutical industry, there are very few opportunities for the next generation of scientific leaders to learn about the drug discovery and development process in general, and particularly for neurodegenerative diseases. To meet this need, the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) developed the annual Drug Discovery for Neurodegeneration (DDND) conference, which has reached 1,252 participants since its inception in 2007. The ADDF requests a U13 Cooperative Agreement conference grant for three years of support for its DDND conference, scheduled for March 2016 in Miami, FL, March 2017 in San Diego, CA, and March 2018 in the Washington, D.C. metro area. The goals of these didactic conferences are clearly consistent with the initiatives set forth at the NIH's 2012 and 2015 Alzheimer's Disease Research Summit: to bridge the knowledge gap in drug discovery and neurodegenerative disease; to bring together interdisciplinary scientists to stimulate new ways of combining skills and disciplines; and to provide networking opportunities for these scientists to exchange ideas and resources. These conferences will provide participants with fundamental knowledge and resources on developing new drugs to treat and prevent neurodegenerative diseases, and will address the challenges associated with the following sub-topics: (1) Embarking on a Drug Discovery Campaign; (2) Starting at the End: The Pharmacology-Chemistry Interface in Preclinical Drug Development; (3) Drug Discovery: From Lead to Clinical Candidate; (4) Strategies for CNS Targets: Case Study Examples; and (5) Commercialization Strategies: Developing Science into Products. Discussions will include relevant examples focused on small molecule and biologic development for Alzheimer's and related neurodegenerative diseases. Sessions will consist of 30 minute presentations with ample time for Q&A, and the program will include sessions for networking, partnering/mentoring, and posters presented by young investigators. With respect to public-private partnerships, the ADDF will invite 22 internationally recognized scientists from academia, industry and the NIH to serve as chairs or speakers. We have assembled a Scientific Advisory Committee that has agreed to participate for the next three years to assist in the development of the conferences. It is anticipated that these conferences will serve 150 scientists annually from diverse backgrounds, including women, minorities, young/junior investigators and graduate students.
There is a vital need for the development of therapies to treat neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and multiple sclerosis, however translating basic research into novel therapeutics remains exceedingly challenging. The Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation (ADDF) developed its annual Drug Discovery for Neurodegeneration conference in 2007 to provide scientists with a didactic course on the drug discovery process and to promote the development of commercially viable and effective disease modifying therapies. We are requesting three years of funding to support our annual conference, which brings together leading experts from industry, academia, and the NIH to train the next generation of scientists in drug discovery.