Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 | UPSC

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Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 UPSC

Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 | UPSC


Union HRD Minister and Union Health Minister jointly launch the Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 (DDH2020)

      WHY IN NEWS:

Drug Discovery Hackathon is first of its kind national initiative for supporting drug discovery process – Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank

MINISTRY? :- Ministry of Human Resource Development


For PRELIMS this is an important issue for this year Prelims . Note down the objective , approach and the stages mentioned below . Numbers are not important . The concept is !

For MAINS do you think this can be game changer in hunt for the COVID 19 vaccine ?


Union Minister for Human Resource Development Shri Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’,  and,  Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Science and Technology  Dr. Harsh Vardhan today launched Drug Discovery Hackathon through online platform.  



In-Silico drug discovery which utilizes computational methods such as machine learning, AI and big data will help in accelerating this process.

  • This hackathon is first of its kind national initiative for supporting drug discovery process.


  • DDH2020 vision and mission is to establish ‘Open innovation Model’ for in silico drug discovery against Covid-19 virus and will cover the various processes in drug discovery, including but not limited to, in silico screening of molecules, lead optimization and identification of drug-able non-toxic targets.
  • The targets/tools/lead molecules identified through the process of DDH2020 will be further taken forward for synthesis followed by subsequent steps in routine drug discovery program.


  • Hackathon is open for participants from across the globe to attract international talent.
  • To attract international talent, the hackathon will be open to participation from across the globe from professionals, faculty, researchers and students from varied fields like computer science, chemistry, Pharmacy, medical sciences, basic sciences and biotechnology. 


This Drug Discovery Hackathon is a joint initiative of MHRD, AICTE and CSIR and supported by partners like CDAC, MyGov, Schrodinger and ChemAxon.



“The objective is to identify drug candidates against SARS-CoV-2 by in-silico drug discovery through the hackathon and follow up by chemical synthesis and biological testing”.


It will have three phases of three months each and the whole exercise is projected to be completed by April-May 2021. At the end of each phase, successful teams will be rewarded.

timeline Drug Discovery Hackathon 2020 | UPSC


  Hackathon will primarily focus on computational aspects of drug discovery and will have three Tracks.

  • Track-1 will deal with computational modelling for drug design or identifying ‘lead’ compounds from existing databases that may have the potential to inhibit SARS-CoV-2 while ,
  • Track-2 will encourage participants to develop new tools and algorithms using data analytics and AI/ML approach for predicting drug-like compounds with minimal toxicity and maximal specificity and selectivity.


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.

  • My Gov portal is being used and any Indian student can participate.
  • Professionals and researchers from anywhere in the world can participate.
  • Two kinds of challenges problem statements (PS) are being offered and a total of 29 have been identified.

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 which are ‘out of the box’ nature.

      IASbhai WINDUP: 


  • The number of prizes and prize money will be separate for each phase.
  • The amount of prize money will increase substantially from Phase-1 to Phase-2 to Phase-III.
  • The potential SARS-CoV-2 ‘hit/lead’ compounds identified may be tested in the lab and taken further for clinical development and by CSIR and other interested organizations.


  • The winning products/hits/tools from the hackathon will be submitted to CSIR for further laboratory testing and validation.
  • Moreover, this entire exercise will help India establish an Open Innovation Platform for Drug Discovery using Hackathon methodology to combat Covid-19 and future epidemics.


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