Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research

Vision and Mission

The need for novel drugs as well as innovations in their development and application is as urgent as ever. Below we present our vision , mission, and our key research areas.


Advances in medicine have led to many significant new discoveries, and new insights of the workings of cancers, neurological- , autoimmune- or cardiovascular-, and other devastating diseases. 

However, still, many of these diseases cannot be effectively treated by existing therapies. And the development of new innovative medicines remains therefore urgent and essential.

First, we need a better understanding of the human pathophysiology and biological pathways underlying specific diseases. Which enables us to better predict where to focus time and work that will lead us to viable drugs. 

This requires us to develop a better predictability of human pharmacology and drug safety, and much more advanced in vitro and in vivo models translating to the individual patient. Finally in order to increase the optimal effectiveness, new and more innovative ways for drug delivery are crucial.


At the LACDR, we want to be at the leading edge of  new fundamental research on the development of new drugs which are more effective and more safe. And additionally develop new innovative ways to apply the right drugs, with the right dosage, at the right place. 

In this regard we focus on three main lines of research which are described below. And the subsequental projection of these lines into the research within our four divisions.

Moreover, as an academic institute, we also focus on the education and training of undergraduate and graduate students in our fields of expertise in bio-pharmaceutical sciences. And additionally with the added value of LACDR being part of the Leiden Bio Science Park, we seek active collaborations with the bio-pharmaceutical industry and joint research projects.

Lines of Research

With our set goals, we focus on three main lines of research. Areas that have appeared more sharply into focus over the past few years, and which will steer our research efforts in the coming period.

  • Novel therapeutic modalities and novel concepts in early drug discovery

    The first research area is focused on the development of novel therapeutic techniques and procedures. Including new innovative concepts in early drug design and discovery in order to better predict ligand-target interactions. For this, we use advanced imaging-based phenotypic screening. Additionally we work on cheminformatics-based identification of new chemical structures with optimal target affinity and specificity.

    Further, we aim to design cutting-edge formulations and strategies for drug administration. So we can optimize the specific targetting the site of the disease, maximise the desired therapeutic effect, while at the same time minimize the adverse reactions to the drug.                                                                                                                                  
  • Translational Drug Research

    Our second line of research is translational in nature. This means we aim at the optimisation of the transition from preclinical research towards the stages of pharmacological interventions within the body. Specifically, we are working on innovative bio-pharmaceutical concepts to intervene in auto-immune-like disorders, using biologics such as vaccines and therapeutic proteins.

    Also, this requires our focus on developing better techniques and methods for predicting the efficacy and drug safety. To achieve this, we develop quantitative systems biology models of health and disease states. And in this line, develop advanced in-vitro 3D co-cultures, including organ-on-a chip systems.                                                   

  • Personalised Medicine

    Most medical treatments have been designed for the "average patient", often resulting in a "one-size-fits-all" approach. However, it has become increasingly clear that a much more effective approach is required that takes into account the differences between individuals, their genes, environments, lifestyles, all of which also influences their individual responses to treatment.

    This calls for a systems-level understanding of diseases, their onset and progressions, aimed at predicting the modulation of disease networks by drugs in cells, organs, and the body as a whole. We will therefore develop computational systems pharmacology methods, which will enable us to take into account complex disturbances in biochemical and signalling networks.

    In addition, we are devising experimental methods to acquire omics (e.g. transcriptomics and especially metabolomics) and imaging data at different levels (in-vitro/organ-on-a-chip, in-vivo and human).

Read more on how our research along these main lines is organised in our four divisions: BioTherapeutics, Cell Systems and Drug Safety, Medicinal Chemistry and  Systems Biomedicine and Pharmacology.

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