U of T Celebrates

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Lakshmi Kotra

Lakshmi Kotra wins Julia Levy Award

May 5, 2021

Professor Lakshmi P. Kotra has received the Julia Levy Award from the Society of Chemical Industry Canada for commercializing several drug discoveries, including new compounds to treat multiple sclerosis, diabetic neuropathy and malaria that are in or nearing clinical trials.

“It was a surprise and delightful honour to receive this award,” says Kotra. “It’s certainly a shot in the arm that the work I’ve done in the past 21 years has been valuable.”

Kotra, who trained as a medicinal chemist, first got a taste of commercializing scientific discoveries as a graduate student at the University of Georgia, where his supervisor and lab discovered anti-viral compounds that were developed into drugs now used to treat patients.

While Kotra played a minor role in those discoveries, this aspect of scientific work inspired him to consider commercialization as a way to help patients benefit from his work. Since joining the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy more than 20 years ago, he has launched several startup companies and licensed technologies developed in his lab to bring the discoveries closer to clinical use.

“As an inventor, I feel that it’s my responsibility to make a difference in society with these discoveries,” he says. “If we are successful in developing new drugs that are needed, we are providing new tools for health care teams and improving outcomes for patients.”

Read the Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy story