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Regional Drug Discovery and Repurposing Initiative (DDRI)

Regional Drug Discovery and Repurposing Initiative (DDRI)

Southeastern (SE) Wisconsin academic research institutions are joining forces, working collaboratively to develop drugs that address unmet medical needs, through an inter-institutional alliance referred to as the Regional “Drug Discovery and Repurposing Initiative,” or DDRI.

Participating institutions include the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (UWM), Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW), Marquette University, Blood Research Institute (BRI) and Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). This is an initiative of the Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI).



The mission of the Regional DDRI is to enable collaborative drug development, so that together the institutional partners can advance the development and clinical use of innovative biomedical discoveries, improving human health.

The Regional DDRI is bringing together leading drug development experts in SE Wisconsin, who are sharing their expertise in the various steps of drug discovery up to clinical development, so they can collaboratively develop next-generation medicines. This initiative represents a growing trend for academic institutions to increase their involvement in drug development, via inter-institutional and public/private partnerships, just as the pharmaceutical industry is scaling back its drug development efforts.

Startup Café

Startup Café

If you have a drug or medical device development idea, and are wondering how to advance it further down the translational path towards commercialization and broader clinical use, then come present to the DDRI committee in our Startup Café.

If you would like to present, and discuss your idea with fellow scientist-entrepreneurs over coffee, submit a 1 page description of your drug development project, addressing:

  • scientific basis for pursuing this disease intervention
  • external validation (grants; papers)
  • patent position (if any) on your drug lead
Why do it?

Presenting to the DDRI committee is done for the purpose of giving you helpful feedback on the feasibility of your drug development project – scientifically, but also from a business and legal/patent perspective. We may also be able to connect you to resources and people that can help you advance your project. You will be given advice on next steps, including potential sources of funding (NIH, angel, venture capital). As appropriate, the DDRI can also assist you in advancing and preparing your idea for subsequent presentation to venture capital investors, through its partnership with Bridge to Cures.

After Presenting

After your presentation in the Startup Café, you will receive formal feedback via a review on the following points*:

  1. Scientific foundation for the proposed intervention
  2. Clinical utility of the target and approach
  3. Level of lead molecule optimization (advanced, or early stage)
  4. Strength of the intellectual property position
  5. Fundability, from an investor perspective (market size; IP; team; risk; competition; cost)
  6. Recommended next steps

* Execution of a confidential disclosure agreement can be requested

Drug Development


Drug development involves multiple steps that go beyond your initial scientific discovery, and require expertise in a range of areas, including pharmacology, pharmaceutics, pharmacokinetics, process chemistry, formulation, as well as legal, business and regulatory matters.

DDRI members and partners have experience in all of these areas, and are in the process of creating core facilities and services.

Startup Financing

Startup Financing Path: A path to venture capital financing and business mentoring via a state-sponsored seed fund

CTSI & DDRI Executive Council

CTSI will be soliciting seed funding applications – structured as business plans – for initial review by DDRI Executive Council (anticipated RFA release is in early 2015). The Executive Council will provide feedback and guidance to applicants in the preparation of a business model followed by a business plan, with assistance provided to applicants through Bridge to Cures (B2C).

  • The DDRI Executive Council  has one representative from:
    MCW, BCW, UWM, CUW, Marquette, MSOE
B2C Investment Committee

Final seed funding decisions are made by a panel of experienced venture capitalists and biomedical entrepreneurs on the B2C Investment Committee (note: this is pending the timing for final availability of seed funds)

  • Scores:
    1. Business model;
    2. Business plan;
    3. Pitch
  • Makes final funding decision
Composition of the B2C Investment Committee
  • 2 Wisconsin VCs
  • 5 National VCs
  • B2C Board (from DDRI)
Mentoring provided to Applicants
  • Lean Startup bootcamp to build business model (with UWM)
  • Startup clinic for guidance on business plan writing and refinement
  • Partnership with BizStarts (through BizForge) for business plan workshops
  • Access to B2C Advisory board for strategic guidance
Contact Us
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DDRI Partners

NIH Funding Acknowledgment: Important Reminder – Please acknowledge the NIH when publishing papers, patents, projects, and presentations resulting from the use of CTSI resources by including the NIH Funding Acknowledgement.


Children's Hospital of WisconsinMarquette UniversityMSOEUWMVersitiVA Medical Center