Drug Discovery

The OICR Drug Discovery Program is one of the largest programs of its kind in Canada. Our mission is to help efficiently translate discoveries made in Ontario’s labs into novel oncology therapies. The team is comprised of more than 25 researchers whose collective expertise spans the entire drug discovery process from target identification and validation to clinical candidate selection. The group has extensive drug discovery experience within pharma and biotech environments and combines the disciplines of biology, ADME/PK, analytical, medicinal and computational chemistry expertise along with state-of-the-art infrastructure necessary to successfully conduct drug discovery projects.

Principal Investigator

Dr. Rima Al-awar
Director and Senior Principal Investigator, Drug Discovery

Program expertise and capabilities

OICR’s Drug Discovery Team has the infrastructure and expertise to help drive small molecule drug discovery projects. We can aid in target validation, assay design and optimization, hit identification, hit triaging, hit to lead and lead optimization Structure-Activity Relationship (SAR) activities.

Additionally, a range of in vitro and in vivo experiments can be performed at OICR to fully characterize the ADME PK profile of hits, leads and candidate molecules.


  • Protein-protein interaction inhibitor projects in collaboration with pharma, biotech and Ontario’s research community;

  • Epigenetic modulators and chemical probes in collaboration with the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC);

  • Novel kinase targets  

Opportunities to collaborate

OICR is making its technology infrastructure, expertise and resources available to the Ontario cancer research community through cost-sharing arrangements.

Visit the OICR Collaborative Research Resources section for more information on how the Drug Discovery Program can assist you.


To find out more about what’s happening in Drug Discovery, visit OICR News.


Jeff O’Meara
Senior Program Manager, Drug Discovery

Dr. Rima Al-awar
Director and Senior Principal Investigator, Drug Discovery