GoI launches Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020

The Government of India on July 2 launched the Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 (DDH2020), a first of its kind national initiative that is expected to help establish a new model for expediting drug discovery

July 2, 2020

The drug discovery processes at the Hackathon will use machine learning, AI, and Big Data for improved speed and efficiency

The Hackathon will have three phases of three months each and the whole exercise is to be completed by April-May 2021

AICTE will focus on identifying potential drug molecules through the Hackathon while CSIR will take them ahead for lab testing

India has been at the centre of international efforts to contain COVID-19 through the supply of medicines to around 123 countries

GoI launches Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020

The Government of India on July 2 launched the Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 (DDH2020), a first of its kind national initiative that is expected to help establish a new model for expediting drug discovery. The Hackathon is a joint initiative of Ministry of Human Resource Development’s Innovation Cell (MIC), All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and supported by Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), MyGov as well as private players. DDH2020 is expected to see participation from professionals, faculty, researchers, and students from fields like Computer Science, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Medical Sciences, Basic Sciences, and Biotechnology.

Background Information and Methodology of Hackathon

  • The Hackathon consists of challenges that are posted as problem statements and, are based on specific drug discovery topics which, are open to the participants to solve. A
  • A total of 29 Problem Statements (PS) have been identified for the Hackathon.
  • MyGov portal is being used and any Indian student can participate. Professionals as well as researchers from anywhere in the world can participate.
  • The Hackathon will have three Tracks. 
    • Track 1 will primarily deal with drug design for anti-COVID-19 hit/lead generation: this is done using tools such as molecular modeling, pharmacophore optimization, molecular docking, hit/lead optimization, etc.
    • Track 2 will deal with designing/optimizing new tools and algorithms which will have an immense impact on expediting the process of in silico drug discovery.
    • There is also a third track called “Moon shot “which allows for working on problems that are ‘out of the box’ nature.

Under this initiative, MHRD’s Innovation cell and AICTE will focus on identifying potential drug molecules through the Hackathon while CSIR will take these identified molecules forward for synthesis, laboratory testing for efficacy, toxicity, sensitivity, and specificity. The drug discovery processes at the Hackathon will also employ machine learning, AI, and Big Data for improved speed and efficiency. The Hackathon will have three phases of three months each and the whole exercise is to be completed by April-May 2021. At the end of each phase, successful teams will be rewarded. The ‘lead’ compounds identified at the end of phase 3 will be taken forward for the experimental level at CSIR and other organizations. 

India has been at the centre of international efforts to contain the spread of the disease through the supply of essential medicines to around 123 countries. Indian researchers are also working on vaccines, plasma therapy, drug therapeutics, medical devices, among others, for COVID-19. Herein, DDH2020 will further augment India’s contribution to global initiatives to tackle the pandemic.