The Drug Discovery Chemistry event is a dynamic conference for medicinal and biophysical chemists working in pharma and biotech. It is one of the few international events focused solely on discovery and optimization challenges of small molecule drug candidates.

Drug Discovery Chemistry offers Plenary Keynote Sessions on Tuesday, April 2 from 4:20 - 5:15 pm and Thursday, April 4 from 8:30 - 9:20 am PDT.

This year, the event introduces a Plenary Panel Discussion featuring Insights from Venture Capitalists on Thursday, April 4 from 3:00 - 3:45 pm PDT.

Join hundreds of your colleagues during each of these sessions, which include live Q&As with the audience.


Barry Sharpless, PhD4:30 pm Applications of SuFEx Click Chemistry for Drug Discovery and Chemical Biology
Barry Sharpless, PhD, Professor, Chemistry, Scripps Research Institute; 2022 and 2001 Nobel Laureate
My work has been guided by the modular simplicity of nature—the fact that all molecules of life are made from several dozen building blocks. Here I will discuss the Sulfur(VI) Fluoride Exchange (SuFEx), a second near-perfect click chemistry reaction pioneered here at Scripps. SuFEx allows reliable molecular connections to be made under metal-free conditions. I will include applications in drug discovery, chemical biology, and polymer chemistry.

Dr. Sharpless's >50-year research career has been devoted to finding new tools and better general methods for exploring the chemical universe. He shared the 2001 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on chirally catalyzed oxidation reactions. In 2022, Barry was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for developing 'click chemistry', making him only the second scientist to win two Nobels in Chemistry. Click chemistry, a discovery methodology based on the insight that the molecules of life are made from less than several dozen small building blocks, provides a reliable way to uncover useful chemical function and spring-loaded ‘perfect’ reactions.

Today the focus of the Sharpless lab is Sulfur(VI) fluoride exchange (SuFEx) click chemistry, which allows reliable molecular connections under metal-free conditions. SuFEx has applications in synthetic methodology; chemical biology and drug discovery; and polymers and material science. Barry received his BA from Dartmouth College in 1963 and his PhD in Chemistry from Stanford University in 1968. Before joining Scripps Research in 1990, he was chemistry faculty at MIT and Stanford.


Daniel Nomura8:35 am Reimagining Druggability Using Chemoproteomic Platforms
Daniel Nomura, PhD, Professor of Chemical Biology and Molecular Therapeutics, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley
One of the greatest challenges that we face in discovering new disease therapies is that most proteins are considered “undruggable,” in that most proteins do not possess known binding pockets or “ligandable hotspots” that small molecules can bind to modulate protein function. Our research group addresses this challenge by applying chemoproteomic platforms to discover and pharmacologically target unique and novel ligandable hotspots for disease therapy.

Dan Nomura is a Professor of Chemical Biology and Molecular Therapeutics in the Department of Chemistry and the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology in the Division of Molecular Therapeutics at the University of California, Berkeley, and an Investigator at the Innovative Genomics Institute. He is also the Co-Director of the Molecular Therapeutics Initiative at UC Berkeley. He is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at UCSF. Since 2017, he has been the Director of the Novartis-Berkeley Translational Chemical Biology Institute focused on using chemoproteomic platforms to tackle the undruggable proteome. He is Co-Founder of Frontier Medicines, a start-up company focused on using chemoproteomics and machine learning approaches to tackle the undruggable proteome. He is also the Founder of Vicinitas Therapeutics based on his group’s discovery of the Deubiquitinase Targeting Chimera (DUBTAC) platform for targeted protein stabilization. He is on the Scientific Advisory Boards for Frontier Medicines, Vicinitas Therapeutics, Photys Therapeutics, Apertor Pharma, Ecto Therapeutics, Oerth Bio, and Deciphera Pharmaceuticals. Nomura is also on the scientific advisory boards of The Mark Foundation for Cancer Research and the MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is also an Investment Advisory Partner at a16z Bio+Health, an Investment Advisory Board member at Droia Ventures, and an iPartner with The Column Group. He earned his BA in Molecular and Cell Biology in 2003 and PhD in Molecular Toxicology in 2008 at UC Berkeley with Professor John Casida and was a postdoctoral fellow at Scripps Research with Professor Benjamin F. Cravatt before returning to Berkeley as a faculty member in 2011. Among his honors include the National Cancer Institute Outstanding Investigator Award, Searle Scholar, and the Mark Foundation for Cancer Research ASPIRE award.


3:00 pm Innovative Drug Discovery: Insights from Venture Capitalists
The high-risk but 'high impact-when-successful' strategy of VC investors gives them a uniquely critical lens through which to view innovation. Join us for an interactive discussion with VCs who will share the trends they are watching in drug discovery. The panel represents a variety of small and large venture firms, who provide early rounds of funding, as well as those who invest at later or all stages.

Topics to be covered:

  • Introduction to VC panelists and their fund’s areas of focus
  • Investing in platforms versus products
  • Perspectives on emerging technologies or approaches (AI/ML, induced proximity and more)
  • Advice on funding options for start-ups beyond VCs, such as angels and grants
  • Pitfalls for early-stage companies to avoid when seeking funding


Michelle ArkinMichelle Arkin, PhD, Chair and Distinguished Professor, Pharmaceutical Chemistry & Director, Small Molecule Discovery Center, University of California, San Francisco

Michelle Arkin is Professor and Chair of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-director of the Small Molecule Discovery Center. Her lab focuses on developing chemical probes and drug leads for novel targets, with a particular interest in protein-protein interactions and protein-degradation networks. Prior to UCSF, Michelle worked at Sunesis Pharmaceuticals, where she helped discover protein-protein interaction inhibitors for IL-2 and LFA-1 (lifitigrast, marketed by Novartis). She is a co-founder of Ambagon and Elgia Therapeutics.

Daniel A. ErlansonDaniel A. Erlanson, PhD, Senior Vice President, Innovation and Discovery, Frontier Medicines Corporation

Dr. Daniel A. Erlanson is the VP of Chemistry for Frontier Medicines, which is using covalent fragments, machine learning, and chemoproteomics to target proteins often thought undruggable. Prior to Frontier he co-founded Carmot Therapeutics, where he contributed to two clinical-stage molecules. Before Carmot, Dr. Erlanson spent a decade developing fragment-based discovery technologies and leading medicinal chemistry projects at Sunesis Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Erlanson was an NIH postdoctoral fellow with James A. Wells at Genentech, earned his PhD in chemistry from Harvard University in the laboratory of Gregory L. Verdine, and his BA in chemistry from Carleton College. He has co-edited two books on fragment-based drug discovery and is an inventor on more than a dozen issued patents and an author of more than forty scientific publications. He also runs a blog devoted to fragment-based drug discovery, Practical Fragments (


Wendy YoungWendy B. Young, PhD, BioPharma Discovery

Wendy Young, PhD, is a biotechnology, pharma, and life sciences executive and board advisor with more than 30 years of experience in the discovery and development of new medicines for patients. She currently serves as a board member and scientific advisor at several venture capital backed start-up companies and is an advisor at Google Ventures. Previously, Wendy was an executive partner at MPM Capital where she actively supported investments and new company builds. Prior to this role, she was the Senior Vice President, Small Molecule Drug Discovery at Genentech, where for 15 years she actively built and led the research & discovery organization. Under her leadership, more than 25 clinical candidates progressed into development. Additionally, Wendy led the BTK discovery program and is co-inventor of fenebrutinib, which is currently in Phase 3 trials for multiple sclerosis. Prior to joining Genentech, Wendy held roles of increasing scientific leadership at Celera Genomics and Scios, a J&J company. Wendy is an inventor and/or author on more than 70 published patents and manuscripts. Wendy earned her PhD in chemistry from Princeton University under the guidance of E.C. Taylor and was an American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratories of Samuel Danishefsky at Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

Rebecca SilbermanRebecca Silberman, PhD, Senior Venture Associate, RA Capital Management LLC

Rebecca Silberman is a Senior Associate on the Venture Team at RA Capital Management. Rebecca serves as the board observer for a number of portfolio companies including Triana Biomedicines, Ambagon Therapeutics, and Ventus Therapeutics. She has a BA in Biology from Colgate University and a PhD in Biology from MIT.

Shyam MasraniShyam Masrani, Principal, Medicxi

Shyam is a Principal at Medicxi. Prior to joining Medicxi, Shyam founded two early-stage biotechnology companies (Shyden Biotechnology and Cleavr Therapeutics). He led Medicxi's investment in Merus and currently serves on the boards of a number of portfolio companies, including T-Cypher Bio, My-T Bio, and CosMyc Therapeutics. Shyam obtained a BSc in Biochemistry and a Master’s in Translational Medicine from Imperial College London.

Jamie KasuboskiJamie Kasuboski, PhD, Vice President, OMX Ventures

Jamie is a Vice President with OMX Ventures. Prior to OMX, Jamie developed deep experience in early-stage biotech investing and company creation while working on the investment team at RA Capital. In that role, he served on the board of Enara Bio, Avilar Therapeutics, and Hyku Therapeutics. Before joining RA, he was a Director at Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund and served as a Board Director of both Tilos Therapeutics (acquired by Merck & Co.) and Rewind Therapeutics.

Olga DanilchankaOlga Danilchanka, PhD, Principal, MRL Ventures Fund

Olga Danilchanka is a Principal at MRL Ventures Fund, the corporate venture arm of MSD. Olga's focus is on investing in preclinical stage companies that translate novel biology into human medicines across therapeutic areas of high unmet need. Currently, she serves as a director on the board of Therini Bio and as an observer on the boards of Ambagon Therapeutics, Caraway Therapeutics, Eyebiotech Limited (EyeBio), and PAQ Therapeutics. Prior to joining MRLV in 2018, Olga coordinated the microbiome discovery efforts at the MRL Cambridge Exploratory Science Center, a subsidiary of MSD, where she was responsible for identifying immunological pathways through which the microbiome may contribute to disease progression. Before her time at Merck, Olga worked at Epiva Biosciences, a startup founded by Flagship Pioneering (merged with Evelo Biosciences). Olga has a doctorate in microbiology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and completed her postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School.