test tubes.

Converting scientific breakthroughs into viable pharmaceuticals

Empire Discovery Institute (EDI)

University of Buffalo, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of Rochester have joined together to form a powerful new drug discovery partnership that aims to convert the institutions’ scientific breakthroughs into viable pharmaceuticals for commercialization and strengthen the region as a hub for life sciences research and development.

The partners have established EDI, an independent, nonprofit entity that will:

  • identify promising drug candidates and 
  • move them toward clinical trials. 

Governed by a Board of Directors , the institute will help the University of Buffalo, Roswell Park and University of Rochester researchers conduct preclinical testing of promising compounds discovered in their labs. Researchers will also receive assistance in designing new drugs for drug targets they have identified through their work.

This new entity has been established with an initial grant and investment commitment of $35.4M from New York State over the next five years in addition to a variety of external funding sources.

Together, EDI’s partner institutions have received more than $1.15 billion in NIH grants for academic research over the past five years. EDI will tap into this rich discovery research pipeline to identify and advance programs that have high potential to address the un-met medical needs of patients across multiple therapeutic areas including cancer, neuroscience, immunology, respiratory, and infectious diseases that are strategically aligned with the marketplace.

EDI infographic.

Here is how EDI can help

EDI accepts applications from scientists with promising technologies at each of the three partner institutions (University of Rochester, University at Buffalo, and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center) and then applies industry expertise, funding, as well as business development support to help these scientists advance their technologies toward commercial viability.

EDI is designed to help overcome key challenges typically faced by life science researchers in academia – finding funding to continue research and development and pharmaceutical industry knowledge and expertise to advance these programs to fruition. 

EDI recently hired Martin Graham as CEO of the organization and is currently gearing up its internal operations, systems and processes and has convened an expert Advisory Board comprising of experienced pharmaceutical industry veterans in drug discovery/development, business development, FDA regulatory strategy and clinical/commercial assessment.  It anticipates to accept its first round of applications from scientists in the 4th Quarter of 2019.

The goal of EDI is to generate new economic activity in upstate New York by ultimately moving the new drug treatments through EDI, leading to licensing deals with pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and the formation of startup companies that will continue developing the drugs. These new companies may ultimately partner with or be acquired by larger companies, providing job-growth opportunities to the region and investment returns to EDI and the institutions.

Key personnel

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Martin Graham.

Martin Graham, CEO, EDI

Martin Graham joined the Empire Discovery Institute in April 2019.  Martin is a successful drug developer and serial entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in the development of small molecule drugs and biologics. He brings a wealth of pharmaceutical industry experience with Sterling-Winthrop, Sanofi, Centocor, Johnson & Johnson, and venture backed biotechnology companies including TetraLogic Pharmaceuticals. Prior to joining EDI, Martin was the CEO, President and Founder of PKPD Biosciences which he merged with his second company KinderPharm before being acquired by Synteract.  Martin earned his PhD. from the University of London Drug Development Section, Institute of Cancer Research, Royal Marsden Hospital, London;  his B.S. from the University of Leeds in Pharmacology and Microbiology; and is an Honorary Professor of Pharmacokinetic Modeling & Simulation at the School of Life Sciences, Institute of Pharmaceutical Innovation University of Bradford, England.  Currently, Martin serves as a Strategic Scientific Adviser to the Harrington Discovery Institute.

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FUNDED BY EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT