In these sessions, attendees choose a specific roundtable discussion to join. Each group has a moderator to ensure focused conversations around key issues within the topic. The small group format allows participants to informally meet potential collaborators, share examples from their work and discuss ideas with peers.


Protein-Protein Interactions

Topic: Methods to Identify PPI Modulators

Moderator: Samantha J. Allen, PhD, Principal Scientist, Screening, Janssen R&D LLC

  • Biochemical, biophysical and cell-based screening approaches
  • Library selection
  • Understanding ligandability

Topic: Degradation-Inducing Therapeutics

Moderator: Philip Chamberlain, DPhil, Director, Structural and Chemical Biology, Celgene

  • Various ‘molecular glues’ for ubiquitin-mediated protein degradation strategies: SNIPER, cereblon, PROTACS, degronomid
  • Which technique to try first?
  • Hurdles to their therapeutic potential
  • Any stories or difficulties to share?

Topic: RNA Complexes as Drug Targets

Moderator: Hasane Ratni, PhD, Expert Scientist, Medicinal Chemistry, F. Hoffmann-La Roche, Basel, Switzerland

  • Different types of RNA-based processes to target
  • Screens and other approaches for RNA-targeted inhibitor discovery
  • State of the field

Small Molecules for Cancer Immunotherapy

Topic: Use of Targeted Protein Degradation Strategies for Oncology

Moderators: Peter Ettmayer, PhD, Scientific Director, Cancer Research, Boehringer Ingelheim RCV GmbH & Co KG

Markus Queisser, PhD, Scientific Leader, Protein Degradation DPU, R&D Future Pipelines Discovery, GlaxoSmithKline

  • Exploring use of PROTACs and other protein degraders for oncology treatments
  • Pursuing previously undruggable protein targets
  • Issues surrounding PK/PD, biotransformation and in vivo delivery

Topic: Exploring Diverse Target Classes for Cancer Immunotherapy

Moderator: David Wustrow, PhD, Vice President, Drug Discovery, FLX Bio

  • Discussion on new target classes and next-generation checkpoint inhibitors
  • Targeting the tumor micro-environment
  • Challenges developing assays and models for target identification and validation

Topic: The Chemistry of Small Molecule Immunomodulators in the Clinic

Moderator: Murali Ramachandra, PhD, CSO, Aurigene Discovery Technologies Limited

  • Single agents and combination therapies
  • Challenges with potency and selectivity
  • Drug delivery and formulation

Kinase Inhibitor Chemistry

Topic: Artificial Intelligence in Kinase Drug Discovery and Development

Moderator: Avner Schlessinger, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacological Sciences, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

  • Use of AI in kinase inhibitor drug design and optimization
  • Can we design kinase inhibitor with conformational selectivity?
  • What is a novel kinase inhibitor and how can we expand the chemical space of kinase inhibitors?

Topic: Kinase inhibitors and Immune Oncology

Moderator: Nicholas Kwiatkowski, PhD, Lead Scientist, Nathanael Gray Lab, Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

  • Sensitizing cancers to immune cells with kinase inhibitors
  • Activating the immune system with kinase inhibitors

Topic: Kinases as Tumor Suppressors – Therapies to Enhance Activity?

Moderator: Tim Baffi, Graduate Student, UC San Diego Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, Department of Pharmacology, UCSD

  • Protein Kinase C activity in cancer
  • New therapeutic strategies to enhance activity

Fragment-Based Drug Discovery

Topic: Integrating Fragment, HTS and DEL Hit-finding Approaches

Moderator: Robert D. Mazzola, PhD, Director, Chemical Research, Merck Research Labs

  • Fragment screens v. HTS v. DNA-Encoded Libraries (DEL)? Or combos?
  • Prosecuting hits: Use separate teams of chemists? Collect data simultaneously?
  • Sharing examples/lessons learned

Topic: Orthogonal Biophysical Techniques for FBDD

Moderator: Charles Wartchow, PhD, Senior Investigator, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research

  • When to use what: SHG, SPR, NMR, DSF
  • Combining techniques: reconciling data
  • The importance of biochemical assays in biophysical screening campaigns
  • Applications to finding allosteric inhibitors

Topic: FBDD without Crystallography

Moderator: Ben Davis, PhD, Research Fellow, Biology, Vernalis Research

  • Strategies for evolving fragment hits in the absence of protein-fragment x-ray structures
  • Structural techniques: NMR, molecular modeling
  • Chemical approaches

Directed Evolution-Based Drug Discovery

Topic: Genetically/DNA Encoded Libraries of Macrocyclic Peptides

Moderator: Rudi Fasan, PhD, Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester

  • Current and emerging strategies for generation and screening of genetically encoded macrocyclic peptides
  • Applications/target classes: When to use which platform?
  • Challenges and opportunities for future development

Topic: Phage Display

Moderator: Sepideh Afshar, PhD, Principal Research Scientist, Department of Protein Engineering, Eli Lilly and Company

  • What is next for phage display platforms?
  • Using phage display to identify peptides that cross biological barriers
  • Integrating phage display with other display platforms to overcome its limitations

Topic: DNA-Encoded Library Technology

Moderator: Brian Paegel, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Department of Molecular Medicine, Scripps Research

  • DNA-compatible reaction development
  • Scaffold design
  • Screening strategies


Modulating the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System

Topic: Novel Targets for Cancer in the Proteostasis Space

Moderator: Alexander Statsyuk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Houston

  • Biological insights into the ubiquitin-proteasome system pathway
  • Target validation approaches for novel proteostasis targets
  • Emerging proteostasis targets

Topic: Development of Small Molecule Protein Degraders as New Therapeutic Modalities

Moderators: Michal Walczak, PhD, CSO, Captor Therapeutics

Nan Ji, PhD, Director of Chemistry, Kymera Therapeutics

Stewart Fisher, PhD, CSO, C4 Therapeutics

  • Applying enzymology concepts to the optimization of targeted protein degraders
  • Protein degradation beyond bi-functional degraders

Topic: Emerging Ubiquitin Targets and Modulators for Drug Discovery

Moderators to be Announced

Inflammation Inhibitors

Topic: Developing Kinase Inhibitors for Chronic Indications

Moderator: Andrew Fensome, PhD, Associate Research Fellow, Medicines Design, Pfizer

  • Utility of kinase selectivity profiling data
  • Safety assessment as an experiment rather than a progression gateway
  • Integrating PK/PD to predict safety margins

Topic: Targeting Innate Immunity

Moderators: Daniel Dairaghi, PhD, Senior Research Advisor, Medicinal Chemistry, Eli Lilly & Co.
Chip Lugar, Senior Research Scientist, Discovery Chemistry Research, Eli Lilly & Co.

  • Challenges targeting RORg
  • Other promising targets in IL17 pathway
  • Safety concerns
  • Animal models

Macrocyclics & Constrained Peptides

Topic: Macrocyclic Lead Optimization

Moderators: Petr Jansa, PhD, Senior Research Scientist II, Medicinal Chemistry, Gilead Sciences

Vicky Steadman, PhD, Director, Discovery, Eurofins Pharma Discovery Sciences

  • Challenging ADME properties
  • Drug design challenges (conformational sampling of macrocycles,IMHB incorporation...)
  • Advances in macrocyclization strategies
  • Natural products as starting points

Topic: Lead ID Using Macrocycle Libraries

Moderator: Adrian Whitty, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Boston University

  • What properties define a good macrocycle screening hit?
  • What represents good potency, and does this depend on library chemistry?
  • Specialized/biased versus general purpose libraries

GPCRs & Membrane Proteins

Topic: New Ways to Screen GPCRs

Moderator to be Announced

  • Physiologically relevant cells and assays
  • High-content screening
  • Screening for biased ligands

Topic: Opioid Alternatives and GPCRs

Moderator: Susruta Majumdar, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Center for Clinical Pharmacology, St. Louis College of Pharmacy/Washington University

  • Impact of new structural GPCR insights on drug design for pain indications
  • Which biased ligands for opioid receptors are showing the most promise?
  • Best ways to find opioid alternatives

Topic: New Drug Discovery-Related Technologies for Complex Membrane Proteins

Moderator: Matthew Eddy, PhD, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, University of Florida

  • XFEL and other crystallography advances
  • NMR applications for drug screening
  • cryoEM: current applications and future directions

* The program is subject to change without notice, due to unforeseen reason.