Nestled in the Cortex Innovation District is one of Washington University’s most recent initiatives: the Center for Research Innovation in Biotechnology (CRIB). The Center’s mission is “to blend understanding of the science, business, and regulation of biotechnology to ensure continued improvements in the delivery of medical innovations.”

CRIB was founded in 2014 as part of an initiative to create a census of all active ingredients in FDA-approved medicines. This information was not readily available at the time. As the Center moved forward on this project, they discovered that through the research they were doing on the FDA-approved medicines, they were creating a uniquely thorough picture of the history of the modern biotechnology industry.

“Although it is generally understood that industry consolidation has reduced the number of companies participating in drug discovery, we have been shocked to learn that the present number of organizations participating in new drug discovery is at a level not seen since the second World War,” says Michael Kinch, associate vice chancellor and CRIB director.

“This is just one of the reasons why this research is so important;  it raises questions about our ability to sustain a continued pipeline of new medicines to improve health.”

Beyond a portfolio of more than 20 papers published to date, the Center is working to make the primary data available to the scientific community so that others can examine this information to answer their own questions.

Currently, CRIB is doing more in-depth research on identifying the innovators and inventions that contributed to the approval of new medicines. The Center is also conducting a survey of all vaccines ever approved by the FDA, including an analysis of the innovating organizations that have contributed to their discovery and development. They’re conducting a similar project involving medical devices, rediscovering their sources of innovation and their fate over time.

Perhaps the Center’s most unique project is their research into what local and regional factors have contributed to St. Louis becoming the world’s fastest growing technology hub. Their findings will provide a unique perspective on urban development and technology innovation.

Read more at the Center for Research Innovation in Biotechnology website