Interactive 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 Interactive Discussions – including Thursday’s Women in Chemistry breakfast – are in-person only.

wednesday, APRIL 20, 7:30 AM

Protein Degradation Using PROTACs & Molecular Glues
Designing and Optimizing Chemistry and Drug-Like Properties of Protein Degraders
Fleur Ferguson, PhD, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Assistant Professor, Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Diego
Andrea Testa, PhD, Head, Chemistry, Amphista Therapeutics Ltd.
Danette Daniels, PhD, Vice President, Degrader Platform, Foghorn Therapeutics

  • New ligases and degradation modalities: finding ligands for the right ligases or ligase agnostic approaches
  • Understanding the degradable proteome: proteomics approaches, degradation tags, and reporter systems 
  • In vitro DMPK challenges and in vivo/in vitro correlation for degrader compounds
  • The interplay between specific mechanistic and kinetic steps of degradation with chemistry​

Fragment-Based Drug Discovery
Advances in Fragment-Based Drug Discovery
Gottfried Schroeder, PhD, Associate Principal Scientist, Quantitative Biosciences, Merck & Co., Inc.
Elisa Barile, PhD, Principal Scientist, Structural Biology & Biophysics, Takeda San Diego

  • Covalent fragments 
  • FBDD without structural information 
  • Biophysical innovations for FBDD 
  • DNA-encoded libraries for fragments​

Encoded Libraries for Drug Discovery
Adopting DNA-Encoded Library Approaches
Christopher B. Phelps, PhD, Vice President and Head, Early Discovery, Nurix Therapeutics Inc.
Amber Hackler, PhD, Senior Scientist, Screening & Compound Profiling, Merck
Sylvie K Sakata, PhD, Executive Director & Head, External Research Solutions, Pfizer Inc.

  • When to embark on a DEL campaign? 
  • Partnering for libraries vs. in-house libraries? 
  • Encoded libraries for fragment-based drug discovery?​

Artificial Intelligence for Early Drug Discovery
Challenges with AI Adoption and Implementation for Drug Discovery
Ruben Abagyan, PhD, Professor, Department of Molecular Biology, University of California, San Diego
Sean Ekins, PhD, Founder & CEO, Collaborations Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
Renee DesJarlais, PhD, Scientific Director & Fellow, Janssen R&D LLC

  • Current trends for the application of AI towards preclinical drug discovery
  • Understanding the caveats of AI-driven predictions 
  • The challenge of continuous evolution of models in response to growth of big data, data types, and computational platforms  
  • What measures should be taken to invest in and effectively use AI at various stages of drug development?

Small Molecules for Cancer or Autoimmunity
Targeted Protein Degradation Strategies for Immunology or Oncology Targets
Chaohong Sun, PhD, Senior Director, Lead Discovery, AbbVie, Inc.
Kevin J. Lumb, D.Phil., Vice President, Biology, Avilar Therapeutics
Dinesh Chikkanna, PhD, Director, Medicinal Chemistry, Aurigene Discovery Technologies Ltd

  • Is TPD especially well suited for immunology or cancer targets? Why/which?
  • What are TPD challenges for cancer & autoimmunity?
  • Favorite lead generation strategies for small molecules​

Part B conferences:
wednesday, APRIL 20, 5:30 pM

Protein-Protein Interactions
Strategies and Best Practices in Targeting PPIs
Samantha J. Allen, PhD, Scientific Director, High Dimensional Biology & Cellular Pharmacology, Janssen R&D LLC
John Zhu, Vice President, Medicinal Chemistry, Ferring Research Institute, Inc.

  • Choosing the right lead generation approach and library (cellular vs biochemical screening, DEL, HTS, peptides, FBDD, VS and more)
  • Taking advantage of cryptic pockets
  • The value of biophysics and structural biology
  • Incorporating high content information

Chemoproteomics & Chemical Biology
Considerations for Selecting the Right Chemical Biology Approaches
Brent Martin, PhD, Vice President, Chemical Biology, Scorpion Therapeutics
Robert Everley, PhD, Director, Chemical Biology, Frontier Medicines
Rhushikesh Kulkarni, PhD, Principal Scientist, Oncology Chemical Biology, Pfizer Inc.

  • Innovations in mass spectrometry-based chemical biology and addressing challenges with sample preparation
  • Comparison of chemoproteomic strategies and types of probes to be used
  • Gap between exploratory/academic chemical biology and proteomics-enabled drug discovery in industry
  • Key considerations for designing chemoproteomic probes
  • Covalent targeting of cysteine versus other amino acids​

Chemical Space bRo5: Macrocyclics, PROTACs & More
Small and Large Challenges for Largish Small Molecules
Cameron Pye, PhD, CEO and Co-Founder, Unnatural Products
Adrian Whitty, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemistry, Boston University
Annie Mak, PhD, Director, Lead Finding Platform & Technology, Ferring Research Institute Inc.

  • What is the most likely cell permeable TPD strategy
  • DNA-Encoded Libraries for large molecules   
  • bRo5 applications to PPI targets​

RNA-Targeting Small Molecule Drugs
Opportunities and Challenges Using Small Molecules to Target RNA
Ryan Potts, PhD, Executive Director and Head, Induced Proximity Platform, Amgen, Inc.
Amanda Garner, PhD, Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy, Department of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Michigan
Thomas Hermann, PhD, Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of California, San Diego

  • Emerging techniques to study RNA structure and function
  • Designing and evaluating small molecules that bind RNA
  • Assays to determine if RNA binding/modulation leads to biological consequences
  • Challenges and opportunities for targeted RNA degradation


Part B conferences (CONTINENTAL bREAKFAST):

Women in Chemistry Breakfast Discussion (Sponsorship Opportunity Available)
Diversity in Chemistry: Gender, Not Just Molecules
Justyna Sikorska, PhD, Associate Principal Scientist, Mass Spectrometry & Biophysics, Merck
Michelle Arkin, PhD, Professor, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco
Zlatko Janeba, PhD, Senior Researcher & Group Head, Medicinal Chemistry, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
We encourage both men and women to attend this moderated audience-interactive discussion session. 70% of attendees and speakers at this event have typically been men, so figuring out why will be a focus of the discussion. Other 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?
  • Did the pandemic move us closer to equalizing childcare responsibilities?
  • Feedback from men who have taken paternity leave
  • Has working from home for scientists become more possible?​