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Shaping the future of modern drug discovery

Prof. Dr. Gebhard Schertler: "Completely new age of drug discovery!" © Paul Scherrer Institute
Prof. Dr. Gebhard Schertler: "Completely new age of drug discovery!" © Paul Scherrer Institute

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Video interview with Professor Dr. Gebhard Schertler

Pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries often depend on the information acquired through basic research. To develop new drugs, for instance, companies need to stay up to date about the latest discoveries in genomics, proteomics, structural or quantitative biology and learn how to translate this knowledge into a new product. In his interview with PARK INNOVAARE, Professor Dr. Gebhardt Schertler, Head of the Division of Biology and Chemistry at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), one of the brightest minds in structural biology, shares his views on the challenges and opportunities of modern drug discovery and the role of basic research.

Dr. Gebhardt Schertler is investigating G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), the largest class of human receptors, at the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI). He leads the Institute’s Division of Biology and Chemistry, and he has established an interdisciplinary research group working on GPCRs using protein crystallography, electron microscopy, NMR, biophysics and bioinformatics. Dr. Schertler is also responsible for biological applications using the Swiss X-ray free electron laser (SwissFEL) and is also involved in the experimental setup and design of biology beamlines for optimizing both biomolecular nano-crystallography and biological X-FEL imaging. Dr. Schertler has had a key role in the foundation of several innovative biotech companies, substantially contributing to the PSI’s translational effort to bring basic research results to industry.

PARK INNOVAARE: What are the main challenges and opportunities in drug discovery today and what is your vision for the future?

Dr. Schertler: The biggest opportunity of today’s drug discovery is that we have more sources of information available for our R&D. We can obtain true pictures of how a drug binds to a molecule and figure out the molecule’s structure not only in one but multiple states, all of which are relevant for understanding different signals in the cell. This information can be used to better understand side effects and how to prevent them. In addition, we are starting to use quantitative mathematical models to simulate cellular action and even organic and organismic interactions. This being said, I am certain we are entering a completely new age of drug discovery, but also a new complexity of drug discovery.

Download the complete interview here or watch our video podcast below.