R&D Institutions

Resultado da avaliação 2007 na área de Ciências da Saúde

Unidade de I&D

Centro de Química Medicinal (CEQUIMED) [HESC-Norte-Porto-4040] visitada em 21/04/2008

Classificação: Good

Comentários do painel de avaliação
Sobre a unidade
As this unit consists of a single research group only, the evaluations of the group and Unit have been combined. As the Goncalves group (formerly a part of unit 4015) no longer is considered as part of unit 4040, it has not been evaluated during the site visit.
An obvious strength of this group is the fact that it is being led by a very enthusiastic PI. During the site visit it was easy to see how she can create a passion for research in students and staff members of the group. Another strength of this group is the knowledge and experience in the field of nanotechnology. It also has a lot of chemical knowledge in the area of one specific chemical drug backbone (xanthones). However, there are also major weaknesses of this Unit. The most important one is that this group does not come across as a group which focuses on various aspects of a common theme but rather as a kaleidoscopic and diffuse collection of small projects which mainly share that they are being looked at within the same department. To say that the entire group aims at discovering new drugs is not a common theme but rather a poor excuse for the lack of it. While the Unit praises itself for the number of new molecules they have made, it would be more important to find really relevant molecules and to obtain a deeper understanding of them. In this regard it did not appear useful to the panel that drug targets are defined based upon rather vague phenotypes (e.g. anti-tumor). Rather the group should either evolve into a more biological direction, i.e. elucidating the molecular mechanism of anti-tumor activity of some of their compounds, or they should focus their drug discovery on few mechanisms which have been defined at the molecular level. The fact that this Unit is somewhat smaller than most others emphasizes the need to jointly focus on one overall topic rather than to spread the limited resources over several areas. The group states the aim to integrate with IPATIMUP; while this could open interesting possibilities for collaboration, it also does not substitute for a focused research approach of the group itself. A second major weakness of this group is that its original publications have largely appeared in journals of low impact. The overall wisdom of having a medicinal chemistry group without direct access to an NMR is being questioned by the panel.

Based upon the above, the unit receives a modest classification. The panel strongly recommends that the group critically evaluates on which common theme they wish to focus. The identification of such a common theme in all likeliness will lead to the deletion of some ongoing projects from the Unit, whereas others complementing the theme may join. The organizing factor of the Unit should be a theme rather than the employment within the same department. Without focusing on a common theme the group is very unlikely to translate their potential into practical results of relevance at the international level. For this reason the panel strongly recommends that the funding of the Unit is granted only for two years, and that any subsequent unit funding depends on a critical re-evaluation at this time, particularly with regard to whether they have succeeded in finding a common research theme.
Sobre os grupos de investigação
BIOACTIVE COMPOUNDS (now Medicinal Chemistry) [RG-HESC-Norte-Porto-4040-1900]

Comentários da unidade

Due to our own process of critical self-evaluation, during the past year our Research Unit has already started the process of long-term strategic planning, bearing in mind our aim to integrate IPATIMUP and to conduct high level research, comparable by international standards. Our work has been refocusing on a deeper elucidation of the molecular mechanisms of action of our lead molecules and on the synthesis of molecules which will circumvent cancer drug resistance, by focusing on known molecular mechanisms of drug resistance. Due to these ongoing efforts, we are already expecting to publish in journals of higher impact factors in the next two years.