Biomedicine and Drug Discovery

The subject area of biomedicine and drug discovery is of the highest scientific, social and economic relevance and represents growth industries with great future potential. Over the last fifteen years, Dortmund has developed into an important location in these fields, which enjoys high national and international recognition. The local scientific environment offers the best conditions and opportunities to further develop this field.

Biomedicine and drug discovery in Dortmund:

TU Dortmund University

At TU Dortmund University, the Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Biology pursues transdisciplinary projects for the further development of personalized approaches in cancer treatment and drug discovery. Among other things, TU Dortmund University is the initiator and coordinator of two drug discovery initiatives, Center for Integrated Drug Discovery (ZIW) and Drug Discovery Hub Dortmund (DDHD), which emerged from the Science Master Plan 1.0 and are anchored in the scientific competence field of biomedicine and drug discovery. The research is carried out in close cooperation with physicians, chemists and structural biologists and can be substantiated by joint, scientifically high-ranking publications, third-party funding and successful commercialization models (licenses and spin-offs). The Dortmund start-up companies PearlRiver Bio GmbH and Serengen GmbH are examples of this. In addition, with the Center for Entrepreneurship & Transfer (CET), TU Dortmund University has an Excellence Start-up Center.NRW that has received an award from the NRW Ministry of Economics. It combines systematic transfer and start-up support with targeted research on entrepreneurial topics.

Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology (MPI)

The MPI is one of the leading German institutions in the field of basic biomedical research. In line with the scientific guiding theme "From Molecules to Humans", the institute pursues an interdisciplinary research approach at the interface of structural biology, molecular cell biology and chemical biology, bringing about a unique liaison between chemistry and biology. The scientific concept aims at a holistic understanding of the dynamics of the interwoven reaction networks in somatic cells. By identifying and synthesizing near-natural drug substances, intracellular processes can be modulated with pinpoint accuracy, and reactions in living cells can be monitored using state-of-the-art imaging techniques. An important aspect of the systems biology-oriented research work is the elucidation of the molecular causes of diseases which, like cancer, are based on a misdirected intracellular transmission of signals.

Leibniz Institute for Analytical Sciences - ISAS - e.V.

ISAS develops powerful and cost-effective analytical methods for health research. The aim is to advance personalized medicine. With its four-dimensional analytical methods, ISAS contributes to improving the prevention, early diagnosis and therapy of diseases. To this end, the institute combines expertise from chemistry, biology, physics as well as informatics and uses, for example, multi-method approaches that combine complex data on proteins (proteomics), lipids (lipidomics) and degradation products (metabolomics) to provide a comprehensive overview of disease-relevant processes in the body. These results can make important contributions to the prevention and successful treatment of diseases, as they provide starting points for new diagnostic and therapeutic concepts.

Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors at TU Dortmund University (IfADo)

The IfADo researches work-relevant effects on physiological processes and investigates the underlying mechanisms at the bio-chemical-cellular level. The aim is to derive fundamental principles for the design of the modern working environment from the research results, which serve to maintain and promote performance, health and competitiveness. It also develops techniques to predict toxicity of developmental substances in humans.

Lead Discovery Center GmbH (LDC)

The LDC is a research company dedicated to the translational development of pharmaceutical agents for diseases that are currently difficult to treat. It develops lead structures and therapeutic antibodies according to the highest industry standards, in cooperation with academic partners, whose efficacy has been demonstrated in disease-relevant model systems. Through licenses/cooperations/spin-offs with biotech/pharma companies/investors, these are transferred to subsequent phases of drug development.

Taros Chemicals GmbH & Co KG (Taros)

Taros is a contract chemical research organization providing successful solutions to the pharmaceutical and chemical industries since 1999. In the field of drug discovery, Taros' scientists make a decisive contribution from target validation to lead optimization and selection of drug candidates for clinical development. Taros' service portfolio includes custom synthesis, process chemistry, medicinal chemistry, computational chemistry and molecular design as well as the production of compound libraries.

BioMedicineCenter (BMZ)

The BMZ is one of the competence centres of TechnologieZentrumDortmund. It accelerates the transfer of research from the universities and scientific institutions of the region into economic applications with high social benefit with particular efficiency. It offers young companies and start-ups an attractive infrastructure in an ideal environment for the rapid and comprehensive implementation of ideas, concepts and R&D projects. BMZ is currently home to nearly 35 companies in the fields of biomedicine, bioinformatics and diagnostics. These include the LDC, Taros and the aforementioned start-ups PearlRiver Bio and Serengen.

Cooperation and networking

Very good working relationships exist between the institutes, university facilities and research companies within the framework of joint research projects. Due to their holistic orientation, all institutes succeed in bridging the gap between basic research and application. Such a local bundling of biomedical expertise is a unique selling point in the Ruhr region and serves as the basis for positioning Dortmund as a leading center for modern biosciences in Germany.

The research work builds on networks between physicians, chemists, structural biologists, pharmacologists and toxicologists and offers the potential to grow these into a regional innovation network in the field of drug development and to provide translational impulses in central health areas such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

Photo: MPI/Christian Lünig


As a long-term and sustainable strategy covering the complete value chain in drug discovery from discovery to development and clinical application of innovative therapeutic concepts, a State Institute for Translation (LIT) anchored in Dortmund is envisaged. Such an institute can position itself as a central innovation driver for the entire health research sector and, as a physical hub and intellectual think tank, bring together stakeholders from science, politics and society for overcoming translation hurdles in drug development.

Another vision in the competence field is the cooperation with all German Centers for Health Research (DZG) as well as university and non-university research institutions and large pharmaceutical industry in the RhineRuhr metropolitan region.

Against the background of maximizing the visibility of excellent basic research in the field of biomedicine and drug discovery in Dortmund and maximizing interdisciplinary collaboration and networking, an international Drug Discovery Conference is planned.

Participating organizations