In-Person Breakouts are informal, moderated discussions, allowing participants to exchange ideas and experiences and develop future collaborations around a focused topic. Each breakout 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 Breakouts – including Thursday’s Diversity in Chemistry breakfast – will be offered IN-PERSON ONLY.

wednesday, APRIL 3, 7:45 AM

Degraders & Molecular Glues – Part 1
BREAKOUT 1: Novel Degradation Modalities, New E3 Ligases and Ligands (Indigo D)
Ollie Hsia, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Assistant, Laboratory of Dr. Alessio Cuilli, Center for Targeted Protein Degradation, University of Dundee
Pat Sharp, PhD, Co-Founder and Vice President, Discovery Sciences, Gate Bioscience

  • Improving potency, modularity and utility of degraders and glues
  • Discovery and validation of new degrader chemistries and functionality
  • Exploring constrained macrocycles, cyclic peptides and other degrader modalities
  • Developing new bivalent and bifunctional molecules​

BREAKOUT 2: Structural and Mechanistic Characterization of Degraders and Glues (Indigo West Foyer)
Moderators: Kevin Wilson, PhD, Vice President, Chemistry, Foghorn Therapeutics
Keith Hornberger, PhD, Senior Director, Chemistry, Arvinas Inc.

  • In vitro and in vivo characterization to develop new degrader/glue modalities
  • Developing assays that are sensitive and unbiased in finding the right targets and ligands 
  • Overcoming limitations in current biochemical and cellular assays 
  • Finding new E3 ligases and cellular pathways for inducing degradation​

BREAKOUT 3: Exploring Covalent Chemistry and Chemical Biology for Inducing Proximity (Indigo West Foyer)
Paul Brennan, PhD, Professor, Nuffield Department of Medicine, University of Oxford
Brent Martin, PhD, Vice President, Chemical Biology, Scorpion Therapeutics
Andrew Zhang, PhD, Director, Chemical Biology, AstraZeneca

  • Chemical biology tools and assays for mechanistic and structural characterization of proximity inducers
  • Innovative chemistries for warheads and probe design
  • Chemoproteomics for covalent drug discovery
  • Emerging uses of quantitative mass spectrometry-based proteomics and global proteomics

Fragment-Based Drug Discovery
BREAKOUT 4: FBDD against RNA Targets (Indigo H)
Moderator: Yaqiang Wang, PhD, Principal Scientist, Chemical Sciences & Structural Biology, Arrakis Therapeutics

  • Challenges for fragment screening against RNA targets vs. protein targets
  • How to decrease rate of false positive hits during fragment screening
  • Is high-resolution structure information required to evolve and optimize the hit?
  • Preferred fragment library for RNA

BREAKOUT 5: Covalent Fragments (Indigo West Foyer)
Moderator: Maurizio Pellecchia, PhD, Professor, Biomedical Sciences Division, University of California, Riverside

  • Which amino acids to target and with what chemistry?
  • Best methods/practices to screen for covalent fragments 
  • How to optimize a covalent fragment

AI/Machine Learning for Early Drug Discovery – Part 1
BREAKOUT 6: AI-Driven Drug Design and Screening (Indigo 202)
Ghotas Evindar, PhD, Senior Vice President, Head of Drug Discovery, 1859, Inc.
Petrina Kamya, PhD, Head of AI Platforms and President, Insilico Medicine, Canada

  • Effective use of virtual screening and structure-activity predictions tools
  • Highlighting use of predictive and generative AI for drug design
  • Novel deep learning models for generating leads, predicting ligand binding and interactions
  • Improving training sets and building better selection models

Encoded Libraries for Drug Discovery
BREAKOUT 7: Integrating DEL into Lead Generation Strategies (Indigo 204)
Moderator: Ching-Hsuan Tsai, PhD, Director, Discovery Technologies, Relay Therapeutics, Inc.

  • Does DEL reveal hits with unique binding modes?
  • DEL vs. HTL
  • In-house vs. outsourcing 
  • Capitalizing on machine learning

BREAKOUT 8: DEL for Degrader Discovery (Indigo West Foyer)
Chad Hewitt, PhD, Scientist I, DNA Encoded Chemical Library Screening, Nurix Therapeutics, Inc.
Christopher B. Phelps, PhD, Vice President and Head, Early Discovery, Nurix Therapeutics, Inc.

  • Advantages of DEL for targeted protein degradation applications
  • Library considerations
  • Using DELs for molecular glue discovery​

Small Molecule Immuno-Modulators
BREAKOUT 9: Small Molecule Lead Generation Challenges for Immuno-Targets (Indigo 206)
Murali Ramachandra, PhD, CEO, Aurigene Discovery Technologies, Ltd.
Charles Wartchow, PhD, Associate Director, Global Discovery Chemistry, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research

  • Applying TPD: strategies and hurdles for cancer & autoimmunity targets
  • What’s your favorite lead generation approach? (e.g., DEL vs. FBDD vs. HTS)
  • Working with membrane protein targets

Part B conferences:
wednesday, APRIL 3, 5:00 pM

Degraders & Molecular Glues – Part 2
BREAKOUT 1: Developing Tumor-Selective Degraders (Indigo D)
Rima Al-Awar, PhD, Head, Therapeutic Innovation & Drug Discovery, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
Simon Bailey, PhD, MBA, Founder, Darkwood Pharma Consulting
Daohong Zhou, MD, Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Structural Biology, University of Texas Health San Antonio

  • Identification and HT screening of novel monovalent degraders
  • Tools for understanding the mechanisms of degradation
  • Optimizing potency, selectivity, tissue specificity and PK properties
  • Developing orally bioavailable, drug-resistant degrader molecules​

BREAKOUT 2: Discovery and Optimization of Molecular Glues (Indigo West Foyer)
Charly Chahwan, PhD, Co-Founder & CSO, SyntheX, Inc.
Shuang Liu, PhD, Senior Scientist, Institute of Molecular & Cell Biology, A*STAR; former Postdoctoral Associate, Lab of Dr. Stuart Schreiber, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
Anastasia Velentza, PhD, Founder, AVeNew Insights LLC

  • Strategies to identify and screen molecular glues 
  • Value of serendipitous discovery versus rational design
  • How to drive structure-activity relationships for molecular glues
  • Design and screening of glue libraries in multiple assay formats
  • Molecular glues for extracellular targets​

BREAKOUT 3: Assays and Technologies for Characterization of Degraders & Glues (Indigo West Foyer)
Ralph Mazitschek, PhD, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School; Co-Director of the Chemical Biology Platform, Center for Systems Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital
Hua Xu, PhD, Director, Mechanistic Biology & Profiling, AstraZeneca

  • Tools for mechanistic understanding and structural profiling 
  • Developing and validating high-throughput screening assays for degrader/glue studies 
  • Challenges underlying the understanding of MoA of degraders and glues​

Protein-Protein Interactions
BREAKOUT 4: Covalent Drug Discovery (Indigo H)
Benjamin Horning, PhD, Scientist, Vividion Therapeutics
Nir London, PhD, Senior Scientist, Organic Chemistry, Weizmann Institute of Science

  • Starting points for covalent drug discovery—potent reversible binders vs. covalent fragment hits
  • Strategies to target nucleophilic amino acids beyond cysteine
  • Characterization and prioritization of novel warheads​

BREAKOUT 5: Emerging Technologies for Addressing PPIs (Indigo West Foyer)
Moderator: Rick Ewing, PhD, Vice President and Head of Chemistry, Rapafusyn Pharmaceuticals

  • Discovery of stabilizers or non-degrading molecular glues
  • Targeting PPIs with macrocyclic peptides: advantages and challenges
  • Technologies for discovering PROTACs and molecular glue degraders​

BREAKOUT 6: Biophysical Tools for Targeting PPIs (Indigo West Foyer)
Elisa Barile, PhD, Principal Scientist, Structural Biology & Biophysics, Takeda, San Diego
Phillip Schwartz, PhD, Director, Biophysics, Septerna

  • Best orthogonal biophysical and biochemical approaches: XRC, Cryo-EM, NMR, SPR/GCI, DSF, FRET, MS, FP, and more 
  • Application of biophysics in alternative modalities such as Protac, glues, RNA modulators
  • Testing funnels: which techniques to use, and where? (e.g., assessing lead potency vs. tracking PPI affinity shifts...)

AI/Machine Learning for Early Drug Discovery – Part 2
BREAKOUT 7: AI for Lead Optimization and Safety Predictions (Indigo 202)
Ewa Lis, PhD, Founder & CTO, Koliber Biosciences
Henrik Moebitz, PhD, Investigator III, Oncology & Exploratory Chemistry, Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research

Lourdes Rueda, PhD, Principal Scientist, Medicinal Chemistry, Recursion Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Steve Swann, PhD, CSO, Chemistry & Design, TandemAI

  • Improving in silico ADME/Tox predictions
  • Combining AI/ML, structure-based methods and mechanistic modeling
  • Using generative chemistry to enhance physicochemical properties
  • AI/ML for peptide drug design and optimization
  • Discussing scenarios where AI/ML has been applied successfully

Oral Peptides & Macrocyclics
BREAKOUT 8: Making Peptides Great Again (Indigo 204)
Moderator: Mark R Player, MD, PhD, Principal, Sawgrass MedChem Consulting

  • Modeling strategies for rational computational peptide design
  • Hit selection and ‘potency hunting’, approaches after initial screening
  • Peptide rigidity and its role in potency and permeability
  • Formulation-based strategies for oral uptake​

RNA-Modulating Small Molecule Drugs
BREAKOUT 9: Tools for Studying RNA Structure and Function (Indigo 206)
Amanda Garner, PhD, Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Michigan
Donny Licatalosi, PhD, Head, RNA Biology, Takeda Pharmaceutical Company
Willem Velema, PhD, Assistant Professor, Physical Organic Chemistry, Radboud University
Jingxin Wang, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Kansas, Lawrence

  • Emerging techniques for probing different RNA modalities and binding
  • Methods to explore druggability of RNA-protein interactions   
  • AI-enabled approaches to target RNA    
  • Exploring RNA degradation, chemoproteomics, chemogenomics and other strategies​

Part B conferences (CONTINENTAL bREAKFAST):

Diversity in Chemistry Breakfast Discussion (Indigo 202)
Grab a plate and then a seat to join one of the in-person discussions below on growing the enterprise of chemistry (in terms of people diversity, not molecules). This session originated 4 years ago with a focus on ‘Women in Chemistry’, but every year the discussions raised more issues than time allowed. We’re broadening the topics but breaking them into smaller discussion-focused groups; topics will include:

Paternity and Extended Leave
Moderator: Thomas P. Garner, PhD, Principal Scientist, Biophysics, Genentech, Inc.

Advancing Women in Chemistry
Moderator: Katerina Leftheris, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer, Vilya Therapeutics

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Efforts at Institutions & Companies
Moderator: Michelle Arkin, PhD, Chair and Distinguished Professor, Pharmaceutical Chemistry & Director, Small Molecule Discovery Center, University of California, San Francisco