Open Source Drug Discovery


Your research will be the discovery, through chemical synthesis, of new drug leads for the treatment of some of the world’s deadliest diseases. You will do this by adopting an open source approach where you will work with everyone else on the planet in real time.


Associate Professor Matthew Todd

Research Location

School of Chemistry

Program Type



We urgently need new small molecule drugs for the treatment of major infectious diseases such as malaria and TB. My laboratory is engaged in a unique exercise in changing the way we discover these molecules. We have placed our lab books online, we share our data and we work with people across the globe in discovering and developing new compounds as potential pharmaceuticals for these infections. With the World Health Organisation we discovered a new way to make the drug currently used to treat millions of people with the tropical disease Schistosomiasis. With the Medicines for Malaria Venture we are working on several potent antimalarial compounds that show great promise for the treatment of malaria, responsible for nearly a million deaths per year. With GlaxoSmithKline we are working to identify a new drug for tuberculosis. These projects do not employ secrecy or patents, but instead adopt an “open source” approach where everything is shared, much like in the development of Linux, Firefox or Wikipedia. We therefore work with a consortium of people from big pharma through to academic groups – whoever is willing to abide by the same research principles. There are currently-active projects in malaria and TB drug discovery, though we are expanding these to other areas at the moment. The Open Source Malaria consortium, which has been running the longest, may be read about here: Bill Gates likes it, too:

You can read more about what open research is here:

This project and others have now led to new interest in the idea of an open source pharmaceutical industry, which you can read about here:

Additional Information

To carry out this research you will need to be interested in:

  1. Organic chemistry (mainly)
  2. Medicinal chemistry (a bonus)
  3. Learning about other areas of science.
You will need to be good at:
  1. Independently thinking of solutions to unusual problems
  2. Writing clearly
  3. Working quickly as part of a team.

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Medicinal Chemistry., drug discovery, open source, malaria, tuberculosis

Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is: 129

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