SC5: Immunology Basics for Chemists

Immunology is a difficult subject to master, even for immunologists. Newly discovered cell types and their associated function in human health and disease have been continuously revealed over the last decade. In this course immunologists (non-physicians) with extensive experience in the biopharmaceutical drug discovery and development will break it down for you by filling in the gaps that most chemists have. It’s not a comprehensive course –but hopefully better – a useful course. The focus will range from basic background biology and terminology that immunologists take for granted and then jump to the biological underpinnings of the areas and targets a lot of medicinal chemists are developing compounds against.

Topics to be covered:

Review of immune system’s cellular players

  • Innate arm -- life cycle, types, functions
  • Adaptive arm -- life cycle, types, functions
  • How does dysregulation lead to autoimmune, cancer and other inflammatory diseases?

Review of inflammatory and autoimmune processes and diseases

  • Which autoimmune and inflammation-related diseases are most prevalent? Which have the greatest need for new therapies?
  • Underlying biologic defects
  • Associated targets and their place in signal transduction pathways

Current treatment landscape

  • Review of current state of anti-cytokine therapies (mostly biologics)
  • Biologics v. small molecules
  • Principles in immune-oncology (e.g., checkpoint blockade)
  • What's on the horizon?


SC_Songqing_NaSongqing Na, Ph.D., Senior Research Advisor, Biotechnology & Autoimmunity Res-AME, Eli Lilly and Company

Songqing Na is a senior research advisor at Eli Lilly’s Immunology research, Biotechnology Center, San Diego. He has been working on discovery of novel therapeutic proteins, oncology drug discovery and immunology research for autoimmune diseases. Several projects he led and helped have been advanced in clinical at different stages. Dr. Na has extensive experience in both large and small molecule drug discovery covering both oncology and immunology.

SC_Thomas_SundbergThomas Sundberg, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist I, Center for the Development of Therapeutics, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

Thomas Sundberg is a Senior Research Scientist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. The focus of his research at the Broad Institute is identification and therapeutic development of small molecules that enhance anti-inflammatory functions of innate immune cells as potential first-in-class therapies for immunological and inflammatory disorders. Sundberg completed his Ph.D. in chemical biology at the University of Michigan where he studied apoptotic signaling in T lymphocytes. He joined the Broad Institute upon completion of an American Cancer Society funded post-doctoral fellowship at Yale University in 2012 and was selected as an Exceptional Performer during the Broad Institute’s 2012-2013 performance management cycle.