How it works

Applying for screening: How it works

Interested in the European Lead Factory screening opportunities? You can contact us about your drug target and associated screening assay via the Programme Office.

The sections below describe the different stages of the review process. Once your proposal has been accepted, the programme will be designed in collaboration with you to bring you to the best possible position for advancing your programme (e.g. funding, partnerships). In addition, target programme owners have the opportunity to partner with one of the established pharmaceutical companies within the consortium.

The submission process

  1. Preparation and submission
  2. Eligibility check
  3. Scientific review 
  4. Accession and execution

Preparation and submission 

It all starts with contacting the Programme Office, who can explain all relevant information and legal documents required. Want to know about the selection criteria and requirements? Have a look here.

Eligibility check 

After receiving your screening proposal, the Programme Office will perform an eligibility check to assess the availability of the target against previous selected programmes, and the technical feasibility of the screening assay. Each target will only be screened once, to prevent conflicting down-stream activities with similar hits from the Joint European Compound Library (JECL) (patent applications etc).

Scientific review and proposal selection 

Proposals passing the eligibility check will undergo a scientific review by the Review Committee, who evaluates the proposals for scientific quality, target validation, chemical tractability, level of innovation, differentiation compared to existing treatments and exploitation potential. Their evaluation will be used by the Selection Committee, together with elements like patient benefit and risk diversity of the portfolio, to select those proposals that contribute to a scientifically sound, diverse, risk-balanced, and economically justifiable portfolio of screening programmes.

The committees meet regularly to consider programmes. The result of the review and selection process will be one of the following:

  • Programme selection, leading on to optimisation of the assay for uHTS;
  • Conditional approval, for example giving the programme owner 6 months to submit an improved assay;
  • Rejection.

We would like to underline that all proposals will be kept confidential. There is an undertaking from all members of all offices, boards and committees (including the industry participants) that they will not disclose any details to their organization or to third parties. After your programme is selected and you sign the Contributing Third Party Agreement, there are certain rights and obligations that apply. Furthermore, a special (award-winning) IT-system (Honest Data Broker) has been designed to guarantee efficient access to the experimental data while ensuring limited permissions to safeguard the intellectual property (IP).

Accession and execution 

After selection of your proposal, you will be contacted by the Programme Office to discuss the full process. You will be asked to complete and sign the Contributing Third Party Agreement, which deals with your rights and obligations. Next, you will (virtually) meet with the Programme Team, a selected group of experts from the European Screening Centre (ESC) to design a specific programme plan together. This plan aims to maximize the number of meaningful hits, and defines strategies for:

  • Assay optimization;
  • High-throughput screening against the Joint European Compound Library;
  • Deselection/orthogonal assays;
  • Other required hit validation experiments.

After the programme plan is finalized and approved, the screen and hit characterisation are run within the ESC in close collaboration with you. The data is then used to generate a Qualified Hit List (QHL) with up to 50 promising compounds and an explanatory report with all associated biological data. In addition, resynthesis of a selected number of QHL compounds will be provided.

Programme plans are designed to maximise the potential for achieving the Programme Owners goals (e.g. funding, partnerships, etc.). In addition, depending on each party’s interests, programme owners have the opportunity to partner with one of the established pharmaceutical companies within the consortium.

If you have any questions about the submission process, please contact the Programme Office at