The Agouron Institute, a non-profit research organization, was formed in 1978 as a vehicle by which new research frontiers and technologies in biology and chemistry could be investigated. The Institute commenced its activities with a small grant from the Office of Naval Research on the marine fouling problem — the beginning of a long-standing program in environmental microbiology. By 1982 the research program had expanded considerably and had obtained funding from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Early successes in the protein engineering and computational groups led in 1984 to a commercial entity, Agouron Pharmaceuticals, formed to exploit the potential of rational drug design. It became a major biotechnology company and its first rationally designed drug, Viracept™ is a leading HIV protease inhibitor. The use of protease inhibitors together with reverse transcriptase inhibitors in a multi-drug therapy regime has led to a dramatic decrease in deaths due to AIDS. In 1998 Agouron Pharmaceuticals was sold to Warner Lambert that then merged with Pfizer. In the process, the endowment of the Institute increased substantially. As a result, the Board of Directors of the Institute adopted new strategies to achieve the Institute goal of making significant contributions in biology and chemistry. The Institute decided to change its mode of operation and explore the possibilities of making highly leveraged investments in basic and applied biology and chemistry. To this end the decision was made to carry out a study program in several promising areas of research.
The results of our studies are published in several white papers listed under “Publications”.
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