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Drug Discovery Center

Mission Statement

The mission of the UTCOP Drug Discovery Center (DDC) is to:

  • Support drug discovery research by securing major external funding especially from NIH although other external funding sources are welcomed
  • Support innovative drug discovery research in UTHSC and ultimately clinical translation of new drugs for the diagnosis and therapy of human diseases with spin-off companies or commercial partners
  • Attract leading faculty in drug discovery to UTCOP, and train students and postdoctoral fellows in the science of drug discovery

Short Term Goals

Using our existing strength and expertise, focusing on an advanced project with the goal to develop and compete for an NIH Program Project Grant in small molecule drug discovery. At the same time, develop and secure other types of external grants from NIH, DOD, Foundations, and other sources of funding agencies.

Organizing structure

Drug Discovery Center

Current Members

Member Name Title and Department
Kirk E. Hevener Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Jianxiong Jiang Associate Professor, Departments of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Neurobiology
Santosh Kumar Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Marie Dennis M. Leo Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Wei Li Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Bernd Meibohm Professor and Associate Dean, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Duane D. Miller Professor Emeritus, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Glen E. Palmer Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Translational Science
Udai Singh Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Chao-Yie Yang Associate Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences

DDC Advisory Board

Board Member Name Title and Organization
Gunda I. Georg Professor and Department Head; Director of Institute for Therapeutics Discovery and Development, the University of Minnesota
Richard A. Magid Vice President, the University of Tennessee Research Foundation

Memberships of DDC

This is COP supported drug discovery center. Only full time faculty with primary appointments from COP can apply and become full members. UTHSC researchers outside of COP can apply to become Associate Members. Membership applications will be evaluated by the Membership Committee in its meeting, and recommendations will be submitted to the Dean for final approval as the final official decision. Click here for Membership Application Form.

Benefits and Obligations of DDC Memberships

Benefits: All full or associate members of DDC will have the benefits to work together towards major grant applications, obtain advice from other members and the advisory committee. Major equipment (>=$10,000) to support the goal of the research can be requested by full members to the Director who will determine if this equipment is necessary for the DDC to purchase and own by the DDC. If the Director determines that the equipment is necessary for the DDC, the director will present proposal to the Dean for consideration. At the current stage, associate members outside of DDC are not eligible for any direct financial support from the DDC and are subjected to fees for equipment use.

Obligations: Members should make best efforts to attend meetings to discuss the DDC progress and work together to achieve the goals of DDC.

UTCOP major shared equipment that are accessible for the center (with approval from Department Chairs):

  • A Bruker 400MHz, an Agilent 500MHz NMR instruments, and four LC/MS instruments
  • Modern molecular modeling software running on high-end workstations enabling computer-aided drug design. Additional collaboration with Oak Ridge National Lab will enable access to super-computers.
  • HPLC, large scale compound purification system, IR, UV/Vis, Polarimeter and other small equipment that are essential for drug discovery research
  • Other major shared equipment available in the college
  • User Policy of the UTCoP Drug Discovery Center Keyence Microscope

Contact DDC

For general questions and comments, please send email to
Inaugural Center Director: Wei Li, PhD, Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences,  

Feb 3, 2023