New Research Center to Target Drug Discovery
Scientists to Focus on Medical Needs of Developing Countries
ST. LOUIS -- Saint Louis University is launching a new research center that will be staffed by ex-Pfizer scientists to target medical problems that are common in the developing world, as well as other unmet medical needs.
"The new research initiative, called the Center for World Health & Medicine, is another demonstration of SLU's investment in the region," said Saint Louis University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. "Our decision reflects not only SLU's commitment to keep talented and productive scientists in St. Louis, but the University's commitment to pursue initiatives that are consistent with our Jesuit, Catholic mission."
|Raymond Tait, Ph.D.|
Pfizer decided last year to refocus and consolidate its research efforts, a decision that will displace approximately 600 pharmaceutical scientists, representing a significant loss for the region.
"While this event represents a major challenge for the St. Louis region, it also represents an opportunity to add a cohort of highly skilled scientists dedicated to research in areas consonant with the University mission," added Raymond Tait, Ph.D., vice president for research at Saint Louis University.
"These are people who have expertise in moving scientific discoveries from the laboratory to the clinic. They also demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit," Tait said. "Of course we wanted to find a home for them."
Initially, the new research center will hire about a dozen ex-Pfizer scientists, who are expected to start working at SLU in July.
The Center is part of a regional push to keep scientific talent in the area, a major priority of the RCGA and Coalition of Plant and Life Scientists, Tait added.
In addition, it is consistent with recent initiatives under consideration by the State of Missouri aimed at providing support for research endeavors with the potential to spawn business development, such as the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act.
"As Father Biondi has indicated, the Center dovetails with SLU's Jesuit mission of service to others because it focuses on improving the health of those most in need, including people who live in the developing world, where health care is lagging," Tait said.
"To that end, the Center will initially focus on medical conditions associated with high mortality in developing world countries, such as childhood diarrhea."
Finally, the scientists in the Center are expected to bring unique skills that can yield synergies with research strengths already present at the University.
"While it is too early to assess the impact of this initiative," Tait said, "I fully expect that the impact will be positive for the University, the region, and, ultimately, for the countries of the developing world."