In-Person Group Discussions are informal, moderated discussions, allowing participants to exchange ideas and experiences and develop future collaborations around a focused topic. Each discussion will be led by a facilitator who keeps the discussion on track and the group engaged. To get the most out of this format, please come prepared to share examples from your work, be a part of a collective, problem-solving session, and participate in active idea sharing.

All Group Discussions – including Thursday’s Diversity in Chemistry breakfast – will be offered IN-PERSON ONLY.

PRE-CONference symposia:
monday, april 10, 4:30 PM

Covalent Modifications & Induced Proximity and Targeting Transcription Factors:
Emerging Covalent and Degradation Strategies for Difficult Drug Targets
Daniel A. Erlanson, PhD, Senior Vice President, Innovation and Discovery, Frontier Medicines Corporation

wednesday, APRIL 12, 7:45 AM

Protein Degraders & Molecular Glues – Part 1:
Tools for Structural and Mechanistic Characterization of Protein Degraders
Matthew Calabrese, PhD, Senior Director & Head, Structural & Molecular Sciences, Pfizer Global R&D
Ralph Mazitschek, PhD, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School; Co-Director of the Chemical Biology Platform, Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Jin Wang, PhD, Professor, Pharmacology & Chemical Biology, Baylor College of Medicine
Edmond Watson, PhD, Senior Scientist, Bristol Myers Squibb Co.

  • Structural, biophysical, and cellular studies to expand our understanding of protein degradation
  • New assay systems to facilitate the characterization of PROTACs and molecular glue degraders
  • Chemoproteomics method to discover additional E3 ligases
  • Cryo-EM to study and compare ligand binding and conformational changes

Fragment-Based Drug Discovery:
Developments in Fragment-Based Drug Discovery
Ben J. Davis, PhD, Research Fellow, Biology, Vernalis R&D Ltd.
Mela Mulvihill, PhD, Director and Senior Principal Scientist, Biochemical & Cellular Pharmacology, Genentech, Inc.

  • Progressing fragments without routine structural data 
  • How to evolve extremely weak fragments (X-ray crystallography (low cost possible?), cryo-EM)
  • Innovations for FBDD (DNA-encoded libraries for fragments?)
  • FBDD for challenging targets (RNA, ion channels, complex assemblies, disordered proteins)
  • Can fragments speed TPD discovery? 
  • Covalent fragment applications

RNA-Targeting Small Molecule Drugs:
Novel Tools and Strategies for Discovery of Small Molecules Targeting RNA
Thomas Hermann, PhD, Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego
Ken Hsu, PhD, Stephen F. and Fay Evans Martin Endowed Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, The University of Texas at Austin
Rabia Khan, PhD, MBA, CEO, Serna Bio
Anthony Mustoe, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine

  • Emerging techniques to study RNA structure and function
  • Chemoproteomic methods for systematic profiling of RNA-protein interactions
  • Assays to determine if RNA binding/modulation leads to biological consequences
  • Challenges and opportunities for developing small molecules targeting RNA
  • Developing novel business models in a non-competitive space to accelerate the field

Artificial Intelligence for Early Drug Discovery – Part 1:
Challenges with AI Adoption and Implementation for Drug Discovery
Ruben Abagyan, PhD, Professor, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Diego
Sean Ekins, PhD, Founder & CEO, Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Maria Miteva, PhD, Research Director, Medicinal Chemistry and Translational Research, Inserm
Wenyi Wang, PhD, Principal Scientist, DMPK Department, Genentech, Inc.

  • Trends in investing in and effectively using AI for preclinical drug discovery
  • The challenge of continuous evolution of models in response to big data, data types, and computational platforms
  • Understanding the caveats of AI-driven predictions for drug and target screening
  • Machine learning models for predicting ADME-Tox properties of small molecule

Small Molecule Immuno-Modulators:
What Are Your Small Molecule Lead Generation Challenges?
Susanta Samajdar, PhD, Senior Vice President & Head, Drug Discovery, Aurigene Discovery Technologies Ltd.
Charles A. Wartchow, PhD, Associate Director, Global Discovery Chemistry, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research

  • TPD strategies and hurdles for cancer & autoimmunity
  • Favorite lead generation approach for small molecules: when to use DEL vs. FBDD vs. HTS?
  • Pain points

Part B conferences:
wednesday, APRIL 12, 5:00 pM

Protein Degraders & Molecular Glues – Part 2:
Exploring Innovative Approaches for Developing Molecular Glues
Simon Bailey, PhD, MBA, Executive Vice President & Head of Drug Discovery, Plexium, Inc.
Jesse Chen, PhD, Co-Founder & CTO, Triana Biomedicines, Inc.
Firoz Jaipuri, PhD, Director, Platform Chemistry, Pin Therapeutics Inc.
Mary Matyskiela, PhD, Vice President, Molecular Sciences, Neomorph, Inc.

  • Structure-based approaches to molecular glue drug discovery
  • Expanding the E3 ligase toolbox
  • Covalent chemoproteomic strategies for developing next-gen degraders​

Protein-Protein Interactions:
Strategies and Best Practices in Targeting PPIs
Elisa Barile, PhD, Principal Scientist, Structural Biology & Biophysics, Takeda, San Diego
Phillip Schwartz, PhD, Principal Scientist, Biophysics, Frontier Medicines
Charles A. Wartchow, PhD, Associate Director, Global Discovery Chemistry, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research

  • Lead generation strategies – which and when?: DEL, FBDD, HTS, VLS, HCS, FA-tethering, etc.
  • Covalent irreversible vs. reversible modalities
  • Differing considerations for PPI inhibitors vs. PPI enhancers (glues)
  • Best orthogonal biophysical and biochemical approaches: XRC, Cryo-EM, NMR, SPR/GCI, DSF, FRET, MS, FP, and more 
  • Testing funnels: which techniques to use, and where? (e.g., assessing lead potency vs. tracking PPI affinity shifts...)

bRo5: Macrocyclics, Degraders & More:
Making Large Molecules More Palatable 
Katerina Leftheris, CSO, Vilya Therapeutics
Cameron Pye, PhD, CEO and Co-Founder, Unnatural Products
Maria Soloveychik, PhD, Co-Founder & CEO, SyntheX

  • What is the most likely cell permeable TPD strategy? 
  • Strategies for oral peptides 
  • Formulation-based enhancements for oral uptake 
  • Oral macrocyclics: what can we learn from PCSK9? 
  • Nanoparticle delivery for bRo5 molecules: lessons from oligo world?​​

Artificial Intelligence for Early Drug Discovery – Part 2:
Emerging Applications of AI/ML Tools in Drug Discovery
Bryce Allen, PhD, Co-Founder & CEO, Differentiated Therapeutics
Collin Tokheim, PhD, Senior Scientist, Early Oncology Data Science, AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals

  • Designing molecules that induce proximity between proteins 
  • Integrating fragment-based screening with molecular dynamics
  • Virtually screening linker designs using available PROTAC ternary structures
  • Machine learning to predict which protein targets are likely degradable
  • AI and ML models to design, test, and optimize lead molecules rapidly in silico ​

Encoded Libraries for Drug Discovery:
Deploying DEL in Lead Discovery
Meghan Lawler, PhD, Director, Affinity Technology, Biology, Anagenex
Brian M. Paegel, PhD, Professor, Pharmaceuticals Sciences, University of California, Irvine

  • Improving “off-DNA” hit confirmation rates—or are they good enough?  
  • Machine learning with DEL data: is it living up to the hype?  
  • Could more be happening in the pre-competitive space?  
  • DEL libraries: partnering vs. in-house​​

Part B conferences (CONTINENTAL bREAKFAST):

Diversity in Chemistry beyond Molecules: Gender and More
Michelle Arkin, PhD, Chair and Distinguished Professor, Pharmaceutical Chemistry & Director, Small Molecule Discovery Center, University of California, San Francisco
Thomas P. Garner, PhD, Principal Scientist, Biophysics, Genentech, Inc.
Justyna Sikorska, PhD, Associate Principal Scientist, Mass Spectrometry & Biophysics, Merck
We encourage all to attend this moderated, audience-interactive discussion session. When it comes to increasing diversity among scientists, there continues to be a drop-off as one moves higher in leadership. Where do systemic challenges remain, what is your experience, and how can we continue to equalize the system?   

Topics may include below, but will be guided by audience input: 

  • Where does the 'drop-off' of women in the chemistry career progression pipeline occur and why? 
  • How did the pandemic and other sea changes in the past three years bring us closer to or further from equality? 
  • What issues arose that you thought were solved? 
  • Diversity in life paths should include us all – how are men and nonbinary scientists being included? 
  • Intersectionality and equality – what is the experience of women of color, first-generation women scientists, and others