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SLU Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation

The Saint Louis University Institute for Drug and Biotherapeutic Innovation (SLU-IDBI) is a multidisciplinary association of researchers with a shared interest in drug and biotherapeutic discovery and development to address unmet patient needs. We invite all University associated faculty with an interest in therapeutic discovery, development, and translation to join the IDBI.

SLU-IDBI brings together experts from a variety of disciplines to share expertise, stimulate ideas, and foster collaboration. Five researchers from SLU-IDBI discuss this new initiative, as well as their own research and its impact on quality of care around the world.

IDBI Mission

The IDBI leverages its members’ deep expertise in medicine, biology, engineering, computational and applied chemistry to discover, develop and translate new medical therapies to address unmet patient needs as part of the University’s mission to serve humanity. Further, the IDBI promotes the translation of University research through drug discovery and pre-clinical development in the following ways:

  • Bringing together SLU researchers to share expertise and stimulate ideas in drug discovery and development
  • Facilitating intra- and inter-institutional translational collaborations
  • Facilitating external sponsorship of promising translational research
  • Educating members and students on drug discovery and development and creating opportunities for SLU students to participate in drug development
  • Providing drug discovery consultations and tools to advance translational projects
  • Providing seed grants to promising drug discovery research

As an academic-based drug discovery institute, the IDBI has as an integral part of its mission the education of students at all levels of their career. IDBI members teach classes, mentor students, and welcome both graduate and undergraduate students into their labs, expanding classroom education into real-world research experience. IDBI members create opportunities for SLU undergraduate and graduate students to participate in drug development, including projects in chemistry, biology, pharmacology, computational and business development.

The IDBI, in conjunction with SLU Career Services, welcomes the opportunity to discuss with potential partners the recruitment of SLU students into internships, co-ops and full-time employment.

Current Research and Expertise

SLU-IDBI is one of the university’s largest institutes, with more than 100 highly accomplished and nationally renowned members. Collectively, these expert members have launched several startups and companies, obtained numerous patents and secured more than $37 million in drug-discovery grant funding. Current research features the discovery and development of therapies for diseases including cancer; chronic pain; central nervous system disorders; liver disease; infectious diseases such as hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and fungal infections; genetic disorders including muscular dystrophy and lysosomal storage disease; and neglected diseases.

IDBI members advance research encompassing a breadth of human and animal therapeutics with modalities such as small molecules, protein drugs, cell-based treatments, and gene therapy. IDBI members also perform research in enabling technologies such as medicinal chemistry, pharmacology, animal models, therapeutic delivery technologies, structural biology, and computational biology. Many IDBI researchers have a special emphasis on diseases of outsize burden on underserved populations, rare diseases, and orphan or neglected diseases.


The IDBI is interested in developing new partnerships with both industry and academia to share expertise, stimulate ideas and drive discovery. The institute also welcomes inquiries from those interested in access to our core facilities. Currently, SLU-IDBI researchers are working with companies ranging from global biotech to specialized early-stage startups on both early- and advanced-stage therapeutic research. Interested parties can contact Jaffre Athman, director of business development,

IDBI members have in-depth experience and expertise in their fields, providing the full range of skills needed for premier drug discovery and development. Expertise includes target identification and validation, primary drug screening, medicinal chemistry optimization of screening hits, pharmacological characterization, lead optimization, and clinical trials for novel therapeutics. The IDBI operates physical service cores to provide access to key drug development steps, e.g., assay development, compound screening/counter screening, target validation, ADME/PK, and medicinal chemistry drug optimization. The SLU research community also offers ready access to world class vivarium facilities, and world leading vaccine and therapeutic clinical trial capabilities.


Within SLU, the IDBI has over 15 collaborative projects ongoing between members of the IDBI that include primary drug screening and discovery with iterative medicinal chemistry, in vitro PK/ADME studies, and animal models.

Outside of SLU, members of the IDBI are working with companies and other academic labs around the world. Projects have ranged in complexity and length, including assay development and/or validation, in silico and physical screening, efficacy testing with in vitro and in vivo models, and ADMEPK testing. Collaborations with industry sponsored projects have in some cases included long-term support for basic biology, target identification and novel therapy development, as well as sponsoring development of SLU hits and leads, to fixed-duration visiting scientist exchanges, scientific training, and graduate sponsorships.

SLU-IDBI Resources

Resources are available to members of SLU IDBI and other members of the campus community at the link below. These resources include information on the IDBI Innovation Seed Grant, the ADME/PK Service, assays available within member labs, and access to the IDBI Shared Drive.  Review SLU-IDBI Resources

The IDBI sends to our members a bi-weekly newsletter, the IDBI Elixir, with funding announcements, research and educational webinars, and news items from the IDBI and our members. Sign up to receive the Elixir here.