Short Courses*

Short courses at Drug Discovery Chemistry are designed to be instructional and interactive. The class size allows for one-on-one interactions between the instructors and attendees. Time is also built into the schedule for Q&A throughout. The courses include introductions for those new to the field as well as explanations on more technical aspects than time allows during our main conference presentations. Instructors are drawn from industry and academics alike, many of whom are recognized authorities in their fields or have teaching experience.


Location: San Diego Convention CENTER

Monday, April 8, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm

SC1: Covalent Fragments: Applications in Target-Based and Phenotypic Screens - Learn More (Room 30 B/C)

Instructor: Alexander Statsyuk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Houston

  • Design principles of covalent fragment libraries
  • Target-based and phenotypic screens using covalent fragments
  • Strategies to grow fragments into drug leads
  • Case studies of coupling covalent fragment growth with selectivity profiling in cells

SC2: Trends in Physical Properties of Drugs - Learn More (Room 30 D/E)

Instructors:Terry Stouch, PhD, President, R&D, Science for Solutions, LLC

Robert Fraczkiewicz, PhD, Team Leader, Simulations Plus, Inc.

Max Totrov, PhD, Principal Scientist, MolSoft, LLC

  • Properties that impact drug efficacy, development, delivery and formulation
  • Properties that impact pKa, tautomerism
  • Crystal structure interpretation among others
  • Use of computational tools

SC3: Introduction to GPCR-Based Drug Discovery - Learn More (Room 31B/C)

Instructor: Annette Gilchrist, PhD, Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Midwestern University

  • GPCR pharmacology, including allosteric modulation
  • Biased signaling, persistent signaling, and accessory proteins
  • Emerging GPCR screening methods, including cellular redistribution assays
  • Affinity mass spectrometry and biosensors


Monday, April 8, 2:00 – 5:00 pm

SC5: Ligand-Receptor Molecular Interactions and Drug Design - Learn More (Room 30 B/C)

Instructor: Maricel Torrent, PhD, Principal Research Scientist, Molecular Modeling, AbbVie

  • Medicinal chemistry drug design principles 
  • Interpretation of atomic-level protein X-ray and modeled structures of binding mode
  • Understanding the relative amounts of potency gain from different interactions
  • Case studies to illustrate all the design strategies

SC6: Methodologies for Optimizing Drug Clearance and Drug-Drug Interactions - Learn More (Room: 30 D/E) 

Instructors: Zhengyin Yan, PhD, Principal Scientist, Department of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, Genentech, Inc.

Donglu Zhang, PhD, Principal Scientist, Department of Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, Genentech, Inc.

  • Drug metabolism
  • CYP regulation
  • Role of bioactivation and how each affects lead optimization
  • Common assays and methodologies for predicting clearance and drug-drug interactions

SC7: Emerging Targets for Cancer Immunotherapy - Learn More (Room 31 B/C) 

Instructors: Wayne W. Hancock, MD, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Chief of Transplant Immunology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania

Aditya Murthy, PhD, Scientist, Cancer Immunology, Genentech, Inc.

Arvin Iracheta-Vellve, PhD, Research Scientist II, TIDE/Cancer Program, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard


  • Recently published data on immuno-oncology targets including: immunology (STING, RIG- 1), epigenetic (HDAC, HAT), ubiquitin (DUBs, ligases) and autophagy targets
  • Resulting strategies for development of new standalone or combination therapies for many types of cancers


Monday, April 8, 6:00 – 9:00 pm

SC9: Advancing Tools and Technologies for Fragment-Based Design - Learn More (Room 30 B/C) 

Instructors: Daniel A. Erlanson, PhD, Co-Founder, Carmot Therapeutics, Inc.
Ben Davis, PhD, Research Fellow, Biology, Vernalis Research

  • Pros and cons of fragment-based approaches
  • What makes a good fragment; properties of a good fragment library
  • Finding, validating and characterizing low affinity ligands
  • The importance of using orthogonal screening methods; and what to do with a fragment – growing, linking, and more

SC10: Diversity-Oriented Platforms for Ligand Discovery: Focusing on DNA-Encoded Libraries - Learn More 

(Room: 30 D/E)

Instructors: Svetlana Belyanskaya, PhD, Encoded Library Technologies, R&D Platform Technology & Science, GSK Boston
Ghotas Evindar, PhD, Head, Post-Selection Chemistry Group, Encoded Library Technologies, R&D Platform Technology & Science, GSK 

  • Pros and cons of using DNA-encoded libraries (DEL)
  • Overview of different DEL formats
  • “Split and pool” DNA recorded library synthesis strategy
  • Purpose of different encoding steps in the DEL process
  • Designing to guide follow up chemistry toward hits with the desired affinity, selectivity, and mechanism of action
  • Data analysis and the decision-making for which chemotypes to prosecute

SC11: Targeted Protein Degradation Using PROTACs and Molecular Glues - Learn More (Room 31 B/C) 

Instructors: Lara Gechijian, PhD, Scientist/Project Lead, Jnana Therapeutics; Former Graduate Student, Laboratory of Drs.

James Bradner/Nathanael Gray, Harvard Medical School

Eric Fischer, PhD, Assistant Professor, Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School

Alexander Statsyuk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Houston

  • Basic understanding of proteolysis-targeting chimeric molecules (PROTACs)
  • Applying PROTACS to target and degrade specific proteins of interest
  • Case studies from instructors’ research

Wednesday, April 10, 6:30 – 9:00 pm

SC13: Biochemistry and Pharmacology of the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System - Learn More (Room: 31 A) 

Instructor: Alexander Statsyuk, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Houston

  • Basic mechanistic biochemistry and pharmacology of the ubiquitin proteasome system, including E1, E2, E3, and deubiquitinating enzymes
  • Signaling pathways regulated by UPS
  • Effect of small molecules on UPS-regulated pathways
  • Assays and technologies for discovering enzyme inhibitors of the UPS system

SC14: Immunology Basics for Chemists - Learn More (Room 30 B/C)

Instructors: Songqing Na, PhD, Senior Scientist, Biotechnology & Autoimmunity Res-AME, Eli Lilly and Company

Gavin Lewis, PhD, Scientist, Immunobiology Research Team, Janssen R&D

  • Review of the immune system’s cellular players
  • Review of the inflammatory process
  • Autoimmune and inflammation-related diseases
  • Current treatment landscape
  • Promising drug targets
  • Principles in immuno-oncology (e.g., checkpoint blockade)

SC15: Macrocyclic Compounds for Drug Discovery: Opportunities, Challenges and Strategies - Learn More 

(Room: 30 D/E

Instructors: Eric Marsault, PhD, Professor, Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology, University of Sherbrooke

Mark Peterson, PhD, COO, Cyclenium Pharma, Inc.

  • Unique characteristics of macrocycles
  • Factors affecting cell permeability and PK/ADME properties
  • Synthetic strategies for macrocyclic compound libraries and macrocyclization challenges
  • Drug discovery and development examples

SC16: GPCR Structure-Based Drug Discovery - Learn More (Room: 32 A/B)

Instructors: Matthew Eddy, PhD, Assistant Professor, Chemistry, University of Florida

NEW: Nicolas Villanueva, PhD, Project Scientist, Laboratory of Roger Sunahara, Pharmacology, University of California, San Diego

  • Methodologies for the characterization and crystallization of GPCRs
  • Review of X-ray crystallographic and cryoEM GPCR structures and their lessons
  • Biophysical tools (NMR, fluorescence spectroscopy, EPR, SPR and computational approaches) for observing function-related conformational dynamics of GPCRs
  • Implications of structural knowledge on drug discovery especially related to allosteric modulation by small molecules, ions, and engineered partner proteins

*Separate registration required