Interactive Breakout Discussion Groups
Join a breakout discussion group. These are informal, moderated discussions with brainstorming and interactive problem solving, allowing participants from diverse backgrounds to exchange ideas and experiences and develop future collaborations around a focused topic.
This year’s breakouts with topics centered on each of the event’s 14 conference programs will take place on Tuesday evening, September 17 and – with breakfast – Thursday morning, September 19.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17 | 5:05 - 6:05 PM
Target Identification and Validation
New Trends in Functional Genomics-Based Screening and Technologies
Moderator: Roderick Beijersbergen, PhD, Group Leader, Division of Molecular Carcinogenesis and NKI Robotics and Screening Center, The Netherlands Cancer Institute
- Screen validation and follow-up with single well CRISPR technology
- Large-scale screening with cell sensing and response reporters
- CRISPR screening in primary cells using co-culture systems
Chemical Biology in Drug Discovery
Moderators: Jaimeen Majmudar, PhD, Principal Scientist, Chemical Biology, Pfizer, Inc.
Jeff Martin, PhD, Scientist II, Chemical Biology & Proteomics, Biogen, Inc.
- Chemical biology approaches as an avenue for new targets
- Chemo-proteomics approaches to understand protein degradation
- Covalent fragment screening for the coupled discovery of targets and leads
- How can chemical biology approaches complement CRISPR-based technologies?
Use of Advanced Disease Models in Drug Discovery
Moderators: Geoffrey Bartholomeusz, PhD, Associate Professor and Director, Target Identification and Validation Program, Department of Experimental Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Madhu Lal-Nag, PhD, Program Lead, Research Governance Council, Office of Translational Sciences, Center for Drug Evaluation & Research, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
- Developing multi-cellular 3D cell culture models for high-throughput screening
- Specific 3D models for target identification and validation screens
- Challenges with high-throughput screens utilizing 3D spheroid models
- Patient-derived xenograft ex vivo (PDXEx) models as a screening platform
- Evaluation of microphysiological systems and models for efficacy, as well as safety studies
Exploring Use of AI and Machine Learning in Target Discovery
Moderators to be Announced
Lead Generation Strategies
Integrating FBLD with Other Screening Methods
Moderator: Robert D. Mazzola, PhD, Director, Chemical Research, Merck Research Labs
- Fragment screens vs. HTS vs. DNA-Encoded Libraries (DEL)? Or combos?
- Prosecuting hits: Use separate teams of chemists? Collect data simultaneously?
- Sharing examples/lessons learned
New Biophysical Technologies
Moderator: Randy Kipp, PhD, Senior Scientist, Biochemistry & Biophysics, Relay Therapeutics
- Movement-based assays: Second Harmonic Generation (SHG) and others
- What are other popular ‘toolbox’ techniques and their pros/cons vs. application?
- Integrating results from various biophysical approaches
Moderator: Svetlana Belyanskaya, PhD, Scientific Leader, Encoded Library Technologies, R&D Platform Technology & Science, GSK Boston
- Different types/approaches (i.e., DNA recorded, DNA templated libraries)
- Current constraints on DNA-Encoded Libraries (DNA compatible chemistry, library diversity, selection methods)
- Applications/target classes
Emerging Ubiquitin and Autophagy Targets
New Technologies and Assays to Study Protein Degraders
Moderators: Alexander Statsyuk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Houston
Carles Galdeano, PhD, Serra Hunter Professor, Department of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Technology and Physical Chemistry, University of Barcelona
- Biological insights into the ubiquitin-proteasome system pathway
- Target validation approaches for novel proteostasis targets
- Biochemical, biophysical and cellular-based approaches to monitor ternary complex formation
- Approaches to identify novel E3 ligases and E3 ligase ligands
Novel Applications and Approaches for PROTAC-based Protein Degradation
Moderator: Tauseef R. Butt, PhD, President and CEO, Progenra, Inc.
- Current limitations of PROTAC approaches- application of cereblon, cIAP, VHL, HDM2 ligases as degrader molecules ligase
- Big hurdles in therapeutic potential of PROTACs- toxicity for chronic diseases; oral bioavailability; IP issues
- Expanding therapeutic potential of PROTACs- developing novel ligases for membrane, cytosol or nuclear targets
- How to overcome the above hurdles and not to develop “Me Too” PROTACs
Challenges with Developed Targeted Protein Degrader Molecules
Moderators: Murali Ramachandra, PhD, CEO, Aurigene Discovery Technologies Limited
Yue Xiong, PhD, William R. Kenan Professor of the Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of North Carolina; Co-Founder, Cullgen
Animal Models for NASH
Moderator: Bryan C. Fuchs, PhD, Assistant Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School
- Re-evaluating NASH animal models in the context of the new FDA guidelines for NASH cirrhosis
- Which noncirrhotic NASH animal models have the most representative histology?
- Are there NASH cirrhosis animal models that develop complications?
- Which biomarkers will be reflective of improvements in histology or predictive of complications
Efficacy of MOA in the Treatment of NASH
Moderator: Karin Conde-Knape, PhD, Corporate Vice President, Cardiovascular and Liver Disease Research, Novo Nordisk
- What is decrease in liver fat telling us?
- What will be the needed efficacy to make a difference to patients?
- Are we any closer to having surrogate markers of efficacy?
Cirrhosis and NASH
Moderator: Peter Traber, MD, Partner, Alacrita Consulting; Adjunct Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
- Targets in common between chirrhosis and NASH
- Challenges in treating cirrhotic NASH
- Regulatory guidance for cirrhosis NASH trials
Immuno-Oncology: Emerging Targets and Therapeutics
STING: an IntereSTING IO Target
Moderator: Gottfried Schroeder, PhD, Senior Scientist, Department of Pharmacology, Merck Research Labs Boston
Charles A. Lesburg, PhD, Senior Principal Scientist, Computational and Structural Chemistry, Merck & Co., Inc.
- Distinct structural features of STING to design modulators against
- Biologics vs. small molecule approaches for modulating STING
- MOA and physiological considerations, possible side effects, etc.
Targeting the IDO/TDO-Kynurenine-Arylhydrocarbon Receptor Pathway and Beyond
Moderator: Claus Kremoser, PhD, CEO, Phenex Pharmaceuticals
- Pros and cons of IDO / TDO single / dual inhibitors vs. AHR antagonists?
- Which tumor autonomous effects and which effects on the immune system can you expect?
- For which cancers might such IDO / TDO / AHR inhibitors be applicable?
Targeting the Adenosine Pathway
Moderator: Alwin Schuller, PhD, Senior Principal Scientist/Team Lead, Oncology, IMED, Biotech Unit, AstraZeneca
- Targeting A2AR vs. CD73 vs. Dual Inhibitors
- Other ways to modulate adenosine levels
- Promising ‘synergistic’ combinations
Antibodies Against Membrane Protein Targets – Part 1
Antibody Forum – Part 1
R&D for Emerging Modalities
Moderator: Zhiqiang An, PhD, Professor, Chemistry; Director, Texas Therapeutics Institute, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
- Consideration of alternative modalities for intended target
- Technologies for selections in final format
- Emerging technologies for antibody discovery; NGS, single cell analysis, CRISPR, AI
- Integrating traditional display platforms with new technologies
- Multispecific platforms
Fit-for-Purpose Membrane Protein Generation in Biologics Development
Moderator: Leyu Wang, PhD, Senior Scientist and Project Leader, Protein Sciences, AbbVie
- Best practices to decide approaches for membrane protein production
- Strategy for expression analysis for a novel multipanner
- Challenges to close gap between membrane protein supply and demand
- How to tap the external research organization or company
Structural Biology Challenges in R&D for Membrane Protein Targets
Moderator: Xinchao Yu, PhD, Senior Scientist, Cryo-EM, Amgen
- Producing sufficient quantity of minimally engineered human membrane proteins
- Crystallography vs. cryo-EM, pros and cons
- Detergents, nanodiscs or SMALPs
- High-throughput structural biology for membrane proteins
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19 | 7:30 - 8:30 AM
RNA as a Drug Target
What Happens When You Get Off-Target Effects?
Moderator: Arthur A. Levin, PhD, Executive Vice President, R&D, Avidity Biosciences
- How are off-target events for RNA-targeting drugs being avoided and assessed?
- What approaches are being taken to broaden delivery, the major hurdle for RNA-targeting therapeutics?
- After delivery what is the next challenge for RNA-targeting drugs?
RNA Alternative Splicing by RNA-Seq and Its Application to Drug Discovery
Moderator: Shanrong Zhao, Director, Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, Pfizer, Inc.
- RNA-seq is a powerful technology to explore alternative splicing (AS)
- The association between genetic variants and AS, and cancer specific AS patterns
- AS in development of novel therapeutics, biomarker discovery, and drug resistance
Predictiveness of Animal Models
Moderator: Marla Weetall, PhD, Vice President, Pharmacology, PTC Therapeutics
- Discussion will revolve around using animal models to predict safety and efficacy as many splicing sites are not conserved across species
Kinase Inhibitor Discovery
What Are the Next Actionable Precision Oncology Approaches?
Moderator: Vijaya Tirunagaru, PhD, VP, Head of Biology and Non-Clinical Development, Research, Rain Therapeutics
- Technologies to identify novel oncogenic drivers
- Mapping of driver mutations to specific patient populations
- Synthetic lethality approaches
Artificial Intelligence in Kinase Drug Discovery and Development
Moderator: Istvan J. Enyedy, PhD, Principal Scientist, Biogen
- Use of AI in kinase inhibitor drug design and optimization
- Pros and cons of AI in drug discovery
- What is a novel kinase inhibitor and how can we expand the chemical space of kinase inhibitors?
PROTACs and Targeted Protein Degradation
Designing and Optimizing Chemistry and Drug-Like Properties of Protein Degraders
Moderators: Ye Che, PhD, Head of Computational Design, Discovery Sciences, Pfizer, Inc.
Nan Ji, PhD, Executive Director, Head of Chemistry, Kymera Therapeutics
Michael Plewe, PhD, Vice President, Medicinal Chemistry, Cullgen, Inc.
Upendra Dahal, PhD, Senior Scientist, Pharmacokinetics and Drug Metabolism, Amgen, Inc.
Novel Strategies for Protein Degradation
Moderators: Willem den Besten, PhD, Senior Scientific Researcher, Genentech
Peter Dragovich, PhD, Staff Scientist, Discovery Chemistry, Genentech
James Robinson, PhD, Team Leader, Discovery Sciences, AstraZeneca
Overcoming Translation Challenges
Moderators: Stewart Fisher, PhD, CSO, C4 Therapeutics
Shaomeng Wang, PhD, Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Medicinal Chemistry; Co-Director, Molecular Therapeutics Program and Director, Cancer Drug Discovery Program, University of Michigan
Translational Tools for Studying Fibrosis
Moderator: Vanessa M. Morales-Tirado, PhD, Senior Scientist III, Translational Immunology, Immunology Discovery, AbbVie Bioresearch Center
- Animal models
- New in vitro assays (3D cellular models)
Promising New Fibrosis Targets
Moderator: Victor J. Thannickal, MD, Professor & Director, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Cross-over Immuno-Oncology targets
- Inflammation/Immune system targets
Lung Fibrosis Drug Development
Moderator: To be Announced
- New targets for IPF
- IPF cellular models
- FDA endpoint guidance
- Therapeutic modalities – biologics vs. small molecules
GPCR-Based Drug Discovery
Non-Opioid Alternatives for Pain
Moderator: Ajay Yekkirala, Co-Founder and CSO, Blue Therapeutics
- Strategy of finding biased ligands — which are showing promise?
- Applying insights from new GPCR structural information
- Other avenues for finding opioid alternatives
GPCR Targeted Lead-Development Challenges
Moderator: To be Announced
- Untangling biased signaling
- Comparing various cell-based screens (affinity, DEL, fragments, others)
- Medicinal chemistry challenges
GPCR-Ligand Binding Kinetics
Moderator: Sam Hoare, PhD, Founder, Pharmechanics LLC
- Compound residence time vs. compound in vivo efficacy
- Off rate and duration of action
- Kinetic artifacts in SAR assays
Antibodies Against Membrane Protein Targets – Part 2
Antibody Forum – Part 2
Structure-Based Antibody Discovery and Design
Moderator: Christopher Corbeil, PhD, Research Officer, Human Health Therapeutics, National Research Council Canada
- De novo design of antibodies: useful and feasible?
- Computational predictions in real-life projects: better integration needed?
- Using computational tools to access difficult-to-target proteins
- Structure-based antigen design
Opportunities in Antibody Discovery for Membrane Proteins
Moderator: Christyne Kane, PhD, Senior Scientist, Biologics Generation, AbbVie Bioresearch Center
- In vivo vs. In vitro Approaches: The pros and cons
- Antibody Databases: Requirements for the ideal database
- IHC Tool Antibodies: Best practices for generation
Characterization of Antibodies Against Membrane Proteins
Moderator: Joseph Rucker, PhD, Vice President, Research and Development, Integral Molecular, Inc.
- Affinity and Kinetics: Useful approaches for characterizing antibody binding
- Epitopes: Different techniques for epitope mapping; binning versus mapping; why do epitopes matter?
- Cell Function: Integrating functional assays into antibody discovery and development
Additional Breakouts to be Announced
* The program is subject to change without notice, due to unforeseen reason.