Accelerating drug discovery

The University at Buffalo, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and the University of Rochester have joined together to form the Empire Discovery Institute (EDI), a nonprofit drug discovery and development accelerator created to translate promising scientific discoveries into breakthrough treatments and cures, support vital upstate New York pharmaceutical research efforts, and foster the development of a vibrant biotech startup community within New York State. UB is committed to building infrastructure, aligning talent and strengthening the region as a hub for life sciences research and development.


Benefits of EDI

EDI will speed up development of new pharmaceuticals by helping researchers from the University at Buffalo, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and University of Rochester convert their discoveries into viable drug candidates and provide critical support during the early stages of development.

Accelerating drug discovery.

About Empire Discovery Institute

EDI is designed to help overcome key challenges typically faced by life science researchers in academia: lack of external funding to continue research efforts and lack of pharmaceutical industry expertise to advance these programs to fruition. The creation of EDI is funded in part by an initial Empire State Development grant of $35.4 million.

Empire Discovery Institute has a collaborative research partnership with the global pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk to launch LeapRx. Through this new initiative, LeapRx will incubate and accelerate novel cardiometabolic and rare blood disorder programs from faculty at University at Buffalo, University of Rochester and Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Dr. Martin Graham, the Institute’s Chief Executive Officer, has convened an expert panel of Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) members. These members are all experienced pharmaceutical industry veterans with expertise in drug discovery & design, medicinal chemistry, drug formulation, pharmacology, toxicology, FDA regulatory strategy, clinical development, business development, biotechnology company entrepreneurship and drug product commercialization. Our aim is to identify medically important pathways and targets related to human disease that will serve as the basis for the discovery and development of novel, highly differentiated new therapeutics. 

See the latest EDI news.

Medicines Discovery Award Program

The Medicines Discovery Award Program is a competitive incubator and accelerator program designed to identify and advance a promising early-stage drug discovery into an early “proof of concept.”  Successful projects will exit the program as either a licensing transaction to a strategic pharmaceutical partner or as an EDI-created startup company.

This model seeks to build close collaboration and interaction between EDI management, the SAB, third-party specialty providers (CROs), Key Opinion Leaders, outside investors, strategic pharmaceutical partners, and the academic investigator(s).

Following successful entry into the program, EDI will form a project team comprised of EDI program management, selected SAB members and the principal investigator(s). This project team will be responsible for developing the program-specific workplan, budget, timelines, and milestone objectives. EDI coordinates and manages the workplan through its network of contract research organizations, specialty service providers, pharmaceutical industry experts and consultants. Specific aspects of the project may be conducted in the investigator’s laboratory and would receive financial investments linked to specific, workplan-driven milestones. Progress against milestones and advancement to the next level of support will be evaluated on an annual basis by EDI’s Portfolio Review Committee.

Projects accepted into the program will potentially be eligible to receive the following resources contingent upon successful achievement of project milestones and annual SAB review:

  • Between $250,000 and $7.5M in total program support over five years (reviewed annually)
  • Access to EDI’s Scientific Advisory Board, strategic partners and consultant network
  • Drug discovery and development expertise
  • Project management and planning
  • Business development and product commercialization
  • Company incorporation and management
  • Clinical development strategy, intellectual property, regulatory strategy, and IND preparation
  • External program financing through venture capital or strategic pharma investments


To apply to the Empire Discovery Institute Medicines Discovery Award Program, please visit EDI’s website.