How the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery’s industry-leading research is changing lives

Since 2016, the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery (BCDD) at Israel’s Tel Aviv University has been at the forefront of some of the world’s most important scientific and medical breakthroughs. Led by Founder and Academic Director, Professor Ehud Gazit, scientists and drug research groups working within the state-of-the-art laboratory focus on rare diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and cardiology. These help to bridge the gap between excellent basic science and viable drug candidates for commercialization.

Amos Elad, Tel Aviv University’s Vice President for Resource Development, discusses some of the pivotal work the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery has undertaken since its inception.

“Over the past five years, the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery has been home to some of the most important breakthroughs in potential drug candidates of our time. This past year has seen a big shift in focus towards Covid-19 research, which we are exploring in various areas including vaccine development, in collaboration with the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.”

Len Blavatnik’s contribution to the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery has played a significant part in the work that the institution is doing to design and screen rare disease models, and in the last year alone, the BCDD has collaborated with three international patient organizations to explore new disease models to treat people’s loved ones.

Perhaps most notably in the case of two-year-old Eli Reich, a little boy from New York who suffers from a rare neurological syndrome called FOXG1. The syndrome, which stems brain development, has no known cure, but Eli’s parents have journeyed to Israel to meet with researchers at the Blavatnik Center for Drug Discovery who are optimistic about his future and believe they may have already found some drugs that can help Eli.

Dr. Avi Raveh, BCDD’s Chief Scientific Officer, explains that the Center offers a unique research approach, applying personalized medicine methodology to rare diseases. “We respond to requests from families all over the world, often at the last moment before they lose hope. Unlike large research institutions, we resemble a small and dynamic start-up, eliminating or speeding up any bureaucracy and getting right down to the crux of the challenge. In Eli Reich’s case, with the time window for brain development closing fast, this flexibility is crucial. I truly hope that we can help him.”

“Len’s philanthropic support has been vital in us reaching our ambitious long-term goal of becoming a leading Israeli center for a robust hands-on partnership between the strongest scientists and pharma global leaders – literally transforming outstanding multidisciplinary science into therapeutic leads,” says Amos Elad.

“With such generous funding, the BCDD was able to hire the brightest young scientists, set up and operate innovative facilities and acquire the latest high-tech equipment. We offer the best research R&D practice possible, as well as constantly progressing and developing the BCDD’s capacity to conduct visionary, out-of-the-box models of cooperation, with a view to making the overall drug development process faster, more effective and better tailored to patient needs.”