Dr. Bruce Lefker: Bridging the Gap Between Basic Science and Drug Discovery


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Dr. Bruce Lefker hiking in Zion National Park, US – a favorite hobby of his during his free time

Dr. Bruce Lefker of Pfizer Inc, Boston, USA, is a visiting scientist at the Weizmann Institute of Science working in the Drug Discovery Unit at the Nancy & Stephen Grand Israel National Center for Personalized Medicine (G-INCPM).  Dr. Lefker has been working as a medicinal chemist at Pfizer for 28 years. He is currently working in the G-INCPM for one year as part of a five-year collaboration between the Weizmann Institute, Yeda Research & Development Co. Ltd and Pfizer, Inc. Dr. Lefker is the first among five scientists from Pfizer that will each be coming to the Weizmann Institute for one year. His initial work has been to establish the newly formed Medicinal Chemistry unit as part of the G-INCPM. To this end, a laboratory has been constructed and the first synthetic chemist, Dr. Khriesto Shurrush, has been hired. The goals of the unit are to assist the G-INCPM in the selection of targets for screening, assess the output of the high-throughput screens and then optimize the early hit molecules to generate chemical probes that help validate novel biological targets. Interesting projects will hopefully be of interest to Yeda and external organizations for possible commercialization. 

“We are trying to build a bridge between the scientific discoveries that are made by Weizmann scientists and the pharmaceutical industry. Novel biology and new targets are primarily discovered in academic labs, and these insights can help us to more quickly turn this knowledge into medicines that will address unmet medical needs. During my first four months at the Weizmann Institute, I have had many positive interactions with Weizmann scientists, and I am confident that some of these will lead to extraordinary collaborations with companies such as Pfizer,” explains Dr. Lefker.