About Us Copy

Vision :
An Integrated Research Platform for Novel Target and Lead Discovery

The Medicinal Bioconvergence Research Center of Seoul National University (or Biocon) has set a challenge to establish an “innovative research platform for drug discovery” that can significantly reduce the time and cost while improving the success probability of drug discovery.

Among the many different stages required for drug development, Biocon focuses on the “identification and validation of novel drug targets”. Although well-validated druggable targets are critical determinants for the success of drug discovery, target discovery is typically a function that pharma or biotech industry launch in-house, because it involves much basic science and there are no standard operation procedures for this process. Therefore, druggable targets have to be provided by the researchers in academia and public sectors. Biocon was established to fill the gap between academia and industry by maturing potentially druggable targets.

The identification of novel targets involves a broad spectrum of research activity from in-depth basic biology to translation. The strength of Biocon is based on the integration of biology and chemistry teams combined with cutting-edge convergence technologies. Through this fully united research teamwork, Biocon is aiming to become the world’s first and best target factory, providing innovative targets to the pharmaceutical industry.

“Innovative research platform for drug discovery”

Initiation : Searching for Novel Targets

The need for new drugs is ever increasing due to the surge in diseases such as cancer, diabetes and dementia that are mainly caused by extended life span. However, the number of newly approved drugs is continuously decreasing, giving a crisis not only for drug industry but also eventually for human health. In 2010, the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) launched the Global Frontier Project, targeted at solving global challenges in major R&D areas. The Medicinal Bioconvergence Research Center (Biocon) was initiated as one of the three projects with the aim of resolving difficulties during the development of novel drug discovery. This project will proceed for an initial nine years from 2010 to 2019, and is divided into three stages (1st: 2 years, 2nd: 3 years, 3rd: 4 years). With the financial support of about 140 million dollars and a projected time-line of 9 years, Biocon has leveraged a unique capability to discover and validate molecular pathways and targets at a level that is possible at few commercial enterprises.

 Focused Subject & Pipeline

Biocon focuses on human aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARSs) and their interacting proteins as our primary target space of interest, and explores their potential to address diverse human diseases. These enzymes emerged early in evolution and catalytically link their cognate amino acids to tRNAs for protein synthesis. For this reason, ARSs have been traditionally considered as housekeeping proteins solely dedicated to protein synthesis. However, recent new findings from Biocon and other groups world-wide on the novel functions of ARSs are rapidly changing the classical view of these enzymes. Indeed ARSs are emerging as central coordinators linking cell fate determination processes with protein synthesis.

Oncology and other complex diseases


We have demonstrated that secreted human GRS is implicated in immune surveillance against cancer. Specifically, we have shown that GRS is secreted by macrophages and acts against certain tumor types via an interaction with K-cadherin. Injection of purified GRS has shown potent anti-tumor activity in vivo. This pathway is likely to have important implications in various cancers, including colon and lung cancer, and suggests GRS and its peptides as a novel resource for cancer immunotherapy.


We found that human KRS relocates to the plasma membrane after a laminin signal and enhances the cancer metastatic properties of cancer cells. We have discovered a class of small molecules that specifically binds to a unique cleft of KRS to inhibit its pro-metastatic activity. We believe that this set of observations offers an interesting new pathway to the development of novel drugs against metastasis and some other relevant diseases.


AIMP2 (ARS-interacting multifunctional protein 2) was previously found as an auxiliary factor associated with many different ARSs. We found that AIMP2 can also serve as a potent tumor suppressor with multiple mechanisms, including the activation of p53, a well-studied tumor suppressive protein. While establishing the important role of AIMP2 in tumor suppression over the past decade, we identified AIMP2-DX2, an exon-2 deleted splice variant of AIMP2 that trumps the tumor suppressive nature of AIMP2, and importantly, is upregulated in specific cancers. Thus, this variant may represent a promising target for many refractory cancers. We have identified potent small molecule candidates that inhibit AIMP2-DX2 with excellent selectivity over the wild type full-length AIMP2.

Our work

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Strategy : 4 specialist groups + 1 integration core group

Biocon seeks innovation across all of its activities including research, technology and strategy. At its core, Biocon is remodeling the R&D process itself. In the current global drug development process, target discovery, drug design, drug screening and disease model are generally addressed in a linear fashion, much like a factory product assembly line. In this system, the downstream processes totally depend on the upstream, and any errors occurring upstream can be cumulative since there is little communication between the different research functions. This situation can be one of the attributes to the high failure rate of drug discovery. To avoid this problem, Biocon has built a unique “4+1” matrix system.Specifically, four specialist groups have been established for target identification, drug design, drug screening and disease modeling. The discoveries and inventions generated from these four units are integrated, validated and matured in the integration core unit (ICU). This way, the time and cost for target validation and discovery can be significantly reduced. The team also includes the specialists from clinical and pharma industry to orient target development according to the clinical and industry unmet needs. In addition, Biocon actively seeks and nurtures technical innovation by adopting cutting-edge technologies into bioscience. To achieve this goal, each project is driven by a under the technical framework that we call S.A.F.E. (standing for Smart, Accurate, Fast, Economic). Through these integrated biology and convergence technologies, Biocon seeks to build up world’s most efficient operational research system for target and lead discovery.

Intergration Core Group

  • All
  • Research Director
  • Support Headquarters
  • 4D Bio
  • Practical Business
  • AM
  • BioBank
  • Bio-Cloud
  • Future Planning
  • CellBio1
  • CellBio2
  • DPEG
  • DrugScreening
  • MolBio
  • Prot-CON
  • Antibody

Specialist Groups

  • All
  • Disease Modeling
  • Drug Screening
  • Drug design
  • Target ID
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    Translation & Drug Development

    With excellent research achievements during last five years of Biocon, it is time to put in place a flexible and professional management group that can assess, decide and implement decisions for downstream development that are independent of, but in co-operation with, the underlying scientific mission of Biocon. The action of this group needs to be focused and operated at the standard of global Pharmas since Biocon’s assets in the pipeline are all “first-in-class”. In light of the imperative to move programs from the academic to a translational setting, Biocon has established a TRAnslation and DEvelopment Group(TRADE), comprised of experienced professionals from the global drug development industry.

    The TRADE group, led by the Biocon’s Chief Business Officer, has a mandate to take Biocon’s inventions and capabilities to global drug development partners. Currently, the TRADE group carries out rigorous assessment of internal Biocon programs with a particular emphasis on matching the target discovery and validation progress of Biocon with unmet market needs or opportunities.

    Suwon Office (Main)

    • Address : B-8, Advanced Institutes of Convergence Technology, 145, Gwanggyo-ro, Yeongtong-gu, Suwon-si, Gyeonggi-do, 16229, Korea
                      경기도 수원시 영통구 광교로 145 차세대융합기술원 B동 8층
    • Tel : +82-31-888-9292
    • Fax : +82-31-888-9294

    Seoul Office

    • Address : Bldg. 29 Rm 213, Seoul National University, 1, Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul, 08826, Korea
                      서울특별시 관악구 관악로 1 서울대학교 약학대학 29동 213호
    • Tel : +82-2-880-8180


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