MDA launched its innovative Bridge-to-Industry (B2I) program with a $180,000 grant over three years to postdoctoral fellow Archi Joardar at the University of Arizona in Tucson, to develop two promising drug candidates for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
MDA’s Bridge-to-Industry, or B2I, is a pilot project that trains promising researchers in translational research by providing experience both in academia and the biopharmaceutical industry.
Through the B2I program, MDA is able to fund investigators to conduct drug development research under the guidance of two mentors: one experienced in academic research and the other experienced in the industrial side of drug development.
Daniela Zarnescu, associate professor in neuroscience and molecular & cellular biology at the College of Science, University of Arizona (UA), will provide academic mentoring to Joardar. Zarnescu currently has an active MDA research grant for her work on gene and drug discovery research in a fruit fly model that carries a mutation in the ALS-associated TDP43 gene.
Joardar will receive mentoring on the industry side from Chris Hulme, co-director of the BIO5 Institute in Oro Valley, Ariz. Hulme is an expert in small-molecule drug design and the development of chemical-based methods to hasten the drug discovery process.
Mentorship under Zarnescu and Hulme will provide Joardar with a unique environment in which to train while furthering the development of two promising ALS drug candidates identified in Zarnescu's work. Joardar will evaluate the ability of each drug to reduce neurotoxicity caused by ALS-associated mutations in the TDP43 gene..