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Our Impact on Drug Discovery and Development

Our research teams develop and apply cutting-edge approaches that speed therapeutic solutions for unmet health needs.

Moving More Treatments from the Lab to the Clinic

A new drug’s journey from the lab to the medicine cabinet can take up to 15 years. On the way, it passes through dozens of steps — and potential failure points. As a result, many never get approved for human use.

For more than 10 years, we’ve been making the drug discovery and development steps faster and more predictable. We built a pharmaceutical collection of nearly every drug approved for humans. We also built automated solutions to swiftly test drugs or combinations of them for new uses, including emerging infectious diseases. Through our partnerships with academia, industry and patient advocacy groups, we have enabled more than 45 promising new drugs to move into clinical trials.

Our newer drug discovery and development efforts focus on preparing for future pandemics and building a one-stop shop for finding, designing and testing new molecules with therapeutic potential.

Explore All Areas of Our Impact


Impact Stories

Drug Repurposing Reveals HIV Drug Shows Promise for Muscle Disorder

NCATS-supported researchers show that an existing antiviral drug used against HIV infection may prove helpful in treating a common inherited form of dystonia.

Tiny Antibodies May Provide New Tool to Fight COVID-19

An NIH-led team of scientists built a library of small antibodies and used it to find promising new therapeutic leads for halting viral activity.  


Drug Discovery and Development Research Activities

We speed preclinical research on promising new medicines through a variety of research activities.

Assay Development and Screening Technology (ADST)

Our automation experts work closely with our lab scientists to support various research activities, including high-throughput screening, and assay development and optimization.

Matrix Combination Screening

Our experts use matrix combination screening technology to quickly identify promising drug combinations with the most potential to help patients.

Compound Management

Our compound management team uses sophisticated and automated techniques to supply chemicals for NCATS screening experiments to uncover new treatments for diseases.


Drug Discovery and Development Research News

Efficient Approach Creates Astrocytes Faster From Stem Cells for Drug Development and Regenerative Medicine

July 24, 2023 - NCATS News

  • Our Impact on Drug Discovery and Development

NCATS scientists used stem cells and a novel shortcut to create large supplies of astrocytes to speed research on therapies for neurodegenerative diseases.

Liver Cancer Finding May Lead to New Class of Antitumor Therapies

March 16, 2023 - Media Coverage

  • Our Impact on Drug Discovery and Development

Specific Enzyme Produced in Liver Cancer Cells Could Turn a Molecule Into Potential Anticancer Drug

March 14, 2023 - Media Coverage

  • Our Impact on Drug Discovery and Development