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Research Centre for Drug Design and Development

We focus on the discovery and development of a wide range of new therapies for a number of diseases, using a bench to bedside approach. This includes identifying drug targets and designing new molecules to interact with them, using both traditional medicinal chemistry and computational chemistry approaches. New drugs can then be tested within the University's Clinical Trials Unit.

What we do

We identify drug targets and design new molecules to interact with them, using both traditional medicinal chemistry and computational chemistry approaches. Once designed, the compounds will be synthesised, purified and characterised, and their biological activity evaluated, using in vitro and in vivo techniques including in vivo models of disease states. 

Lead compounds can be further developed into medicines by optimising formulations and developing their drug-like properties. We have researchers from across the University in pharmacology, computational chemistry, synthetic chemistry, biosciences and pharmaceutics. Structure-guided and target-driven methods are used to identify drug candidates and novel therapeutic agents.

Research areas

Our main areas of research are:

  • Target identification and assay development; hit identification
  • Drug design including computational chemistry; synthetic chemistry; analytical chemistry; drug delivery and pre-formulation
  • Preclinical research (in vitro and in vivo testing) including animal models of psychiatric and neurological conditions
  • Drug development including absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion; mechanism of action studies; formulation design; dosage form optimisation and clinical trials

News and events

  • In January 2020 the Centre hosted Dr Atticus Hainsworth, Reader in Cerebrovascular Disease at St George’s Medical School, London who gave a seminar - “Small vessels in old brains - a pipeline to dementia". He is an expert in the pathology of cerebral small vessel disease, which is the primary cause of lacunar stroke and vascular cognitive impairment. He has authored systematic reviews of animal models relevant to vascular cognitive impairment, and chairs the vascular experimental medicine group within Dementias Platform UK.
  • Professor Rob Forbes took part in a podcast for The Conversation in early 2020 about his research into personalised medicine for children using 3D Printing technology – the article containing the podcast is called ‘From 3D printing drugs to social prescribing – Medicine made for you part 3’.
  • Professor Colin Davidson has found damning evidence for the effects of many legal highs, including the infamous ‘spice’.
  • The war on superbugs: finding a lifeline for the drug of last resort - Charlotte Hughes's research focuses on finding out what causes the antibiotic-resistant bacteria to mutate and resist treatment.

Sharing our expertise

Research staff within the Centre have created a number of videos to outline their areas of expertise:


To find out more please contact the Centre Director, Professor Colin Davidson or email