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Protein Therapeutics Discovery, Winter 2020

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The Innovative Medicines Accelerator (IMA) aims to to accelerate the translation of Stanford University’s research discoveries into new medicines while expanding our knowledge of human biology. Identification of promising lead molecules and their subsequent engineering and development into drug prototypes are two major challenges in molecular therapeutics discovery. Through this LOI solicitation, the IMA seeks to identify projects that will lead to the discovery of a protein/antibody with sufficiently promising properties to be advanced as a drug prototype.

Of particular interest are projects that have:

  • Identified a protein molecule that exhibits therapeutically relevant activity in a cellular or animal model of disease; or
  • Validated an extracellular biomolecule as a target for a therapeutic monoclonal antibody 
  • Competitive projects will have a strong therapeutic hypothesis and a novel biological target. Basic research, including research directed towards target identification or the development of an assay for molecular therapeutics discovery, is outside the scope of the current LOI solicitation.

Support Provided:

Selected projects will receive access to IMA’s Protein Therapeutics module for tasks such as:

  • Discovery of a monoclonal antibody that modulates target activity with sufficient potency and specificity to serve as a therapeutic lead. This capability will be provided through alliance with external antibody discovery platforms with a track record of generating humanized monoclonal antibodies;
  • Structure-based and/or evolutionarily guided optimization of a lead antibody or non-antibody protein therapeutic. This capability will be provided through IMA’s in-house protein engineering expertise;
  • Recombinant protein production for structure-activity relationship analysis. This capability will be provided through in-house staff or contract research organizations; and
  • Access to the IMA’s Pharmacology module for evaluating stability, developability, efficacy, and/or pharmacokinetics/toxicology of the most promising protein drug prototypes in a suitable in vitro or animal model.

PIs are generally expected to identify a student, postdoctoral fellow, or research associate who is fully familiar with the molecular and/or cellular assays needed to support the monoclonal antibody and/or protein engineering efforts.

Selected projects will be supported for 6-24 months with critical go/no-go decision points defined for this project period. The specific level of support will vary by project need.

Application Deadline:

All LOIs must be received by 5 PM, January 8, 2021.


All Stanford faculty with PI eligibility are welcome to apply.

Application Instructions:

LOIs should be submitted as single PDF files containing the following materials in the order indicated below. All documents should be single-spaced, Arial 11-point font with 1-inch margins. 

  1. Title page (1 page): Project title; Investigator name(s), department, address, phone number, email address, a project summary for a lay audience (150 words max).
  2. Letter of Intent (2 pages maximum) – Briefly describe the medical need the project seeks to address and the case for the biological target of the anticipated drug prototyping effort. Where relevant, describe briefly the structure and/or properties of the bioactive protein that serves as the starting point of your project. Briefly describe the biological assays that will be required to guide the optimization of the compound. Emphasize what is novel about your approach.
  3. NIH-format biosketch for each investigator

LOIs should be submitted directly through the SlideRoom portal found at: You do not need to submit your applications to your Research Process Manager (RPM) in RMG or through your Office of Sponsored Research (OSR) Contract and Grant officer (CGO) for their approval at this time. 

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Selection Process & Timeline:

A committee of faculty reviewers will identify the most meritorious LOIs based on the biological novelty, biochemical innovation, feasibility, and significance of the unmet medical need. PIs whose project ideas are selected will be invited to submit full proposals (including budgets) with the help of an IMA technical staff member. Final decisions on full proposals will be made in early March.


For questions about the Protein Therapeutics Module of IMA, please contact

Dr. Jennifer Cochran

For questions about the funding opportunity and SlideRoom submission, please contact

Dr. Elizabeth Sefton