Pediatric Drug Development Center
Seth Corey, MD, MPH, Director
Morris Kletzel, MD, MBA, Co-Director
The long-term objectives of the Pediatric Drug Development Center are to improve the lives of children and adolescents with chronic or life-threatening diseases by the discovery and repurposing of drugs from bench to clinical trial; advance knowledge of pediatric pharmacology and therapeutics; train pediatric investigators; and establish the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago as a leader in pediatric drug discovery and therapeutics.
A major crisis is occurring in drug discovery, affecting future progress to healthier lives. While the pipeline is filled, the actual number of approved drugs is declining. This problem is exacerbated in pediatrics because the diseases are different, possess smaller markets and pose greater regulatory obstacles.
Nowhere can this be better appreciated than in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Over the past 40 years, cure rates have skyrocketed from 5 percent to 90 percent. But over the past ten years progress has been flat.
The burden is on the pediatric academic community to initiate, develop and evaluate new therapies specifically formulated for children and adolescents.
Our mission is to repurpose drugs, which are available, inexpensive, and safe for children to use in pediatric oncology patients. “Shelved” drugs, which have gone through phase I/II testing but either failed approval or were not submitted, must be re-evaluated. Our mission is accomplished by:
- performing translational research in selected pediatric diseases to identify new pediatric indications for existing drugs;
- facilitating collaboration across basic science and clinical disciplines;
- educating and training pediatric physicians and scientists at all stages of their careers on drug discovery and therapeutics;
- attracting patients to Lurie Children’s for care and management of their diseases;
- obtaining extramural funding from federal, foundation, and industrial sources;
- reporting our drug discoveries at meetings and in journals
Center Personnel and Structure
Director: Seth Corey, MD MPH
Sharon Murphy-Steven Rosen Research Professor of Cancer Biology and Chemotherapy.
Co-director: Morris Kletzel, MD MBA
Head and Meryl Suzanne Weiss Endowed Professor of Hematology, Oncology and Stem Cell Transplant.
The Center’s research is conducted primarily through Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago Research Center. It is part of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center and interacts with other centers and programs at Northwestern University.
Core activities focus on the identification, testing and validation of drugs for specific pediatric diseases. Once a pediatric disease is targeted, a screening of drugs in relevant cell lines is performed. To increase the likelihood of success, other pediatric cancer cell lines are tested. The Center also includes the Zebrafish Modeling of Human Cancer, Pharmcodynamics and Toxicology core for the Lurie Cancer Center (Drs. Sergei Revskoy and Seth Corey).
The Pediatric Drug Development Center is also involved in basic and translational research into the molecular basis of disease, mechanisms of action of drugs, and systems biology of therapeutics.
The Pediatric Drug Development Center is committed to training physicians and scientists at all career levels - from undergraduate/high school education, graduate and medical school through pediatric residency and subspecialty fellowship. To accomplish training as well as drug development, the Center sponsors regular seminars and every other year symposia.
Early and late translational research and clinical investigation with tangible benefits are products of the Pediatric Drug Development Center.
Under the leadership of Dr. Corey, the Center aims for external funding from philanthropy, pharmaceutical industry, and foundation or federal grants.
The Center is well poised to incorporate new technologies being developed at Northwestern or partner with other institutions or businesses.