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Join senior decision makers and leaders at Next Generation Undruggable in dynamic discussions covering novel modalities and how scientific and commercial challenges can be overcome. Gain insight from those within the pharmaceutical, biotech and investor industries to consider how the notion of undruggable targets is being eroded across a spectrum of therapeutic areas.
Showcasing pivotal topics, Next Generation Undruggable will provide an opportunity to learn about novel and innovative small molecule modalities, including protein degradation, molecular glues and novel approaches to targeting RNA, GPCRs and other hard-to-drug targets. Reveal-all conversations will also explore key features of the partnership and investment landscape in 2023 and beyond.
Next-Generation Undruggable, AI in Pharma: Discovery and AI in Pharma: Clinical Development, will provide a comprehensive offering, bringing the industry together to delve into the latest developments and future of R&D. Kick-off by exploring the future of difficult-to-drug disease, then deep-dive into the application of AI in early stage R&D before focus shifts to the AI transformation of clinical development and trials.
The conference showcased a spectrum of approaches used for drugging the ‘undruggable’. Panel discussions on how to facilitate pharma partnerships were very helpful.
I always enjoy these focused meetings where groups of like-minded scientists can network to share insights and key learnings around successful strategies they are taking to take on some of the most challenging targets.
Right now is such an exciting time to be in drug discovery – the rapid pace of technology innovation means the definition of undruggable is constantly being challenged.
2023 Expert Speaker Faculty
Dr. Greg Verdine is a leader in the discovery, development and commercialization of new drug modalities. A passionate and accomplished inventor of novel approaches and drug classes to engage targets widely believed intractable, Dr. Verdine coined the phrase “drugging the undruggable” to describe his life’s mission. FogPharma was born from the new modality scientific work of Dr. Verdine. Together with co-founder WeiQing Zhou, he developed the scientific and business concept for the company and co-led its capitalization and operationalization in mid-2016. Dr. Verdine held the role of Chairman of the Board from company founding until December 2020.
Dr. Verdine is highly regarded for having moved seamlessly between roles as an academic scientist, biotech entrepreneur, investor, and company executive. As Erving Professor at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School, he invented stapled peptides, including the precursor to the Phase II molecule ALRN 6924, and also made seminal contributions to understanding fundamental mechanisms of DNA repair and epigenetic DNA methylation. As an entrepreneur, Dr. Verdine has founded multiple, public biotech companies including Variagenics, Enanta, Eleven Bio, Tokai, Wave Life Sciences, and Aileron, and a private company, Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, that was acquired by Celgene. These companies have succeeded in achieving FDA approval for three marketed drugs.
Dr. Verdine has served on the board of directors of Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Wave Life Sciences, Warp Drive Bio, and LifeMine Therapeutics. Having led the formation and financing of Wave Life Sciences, Warp Drive Bio and LifeMine, Dr. Verdine took a role in managing these companies as their president, chief executive officer and chief scientific officer.
Dr. Verdine earned his Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia University and served as an NIH postdoctoral fellow in molecular biology at MIT and Harvard Medical School.
Steve is an oncology drug discovery expert with experience in both small molecule and biologics discovery and development. He has a deep knowledge of both targeted therapies and immuno-oncology agents, with more than two dozen drugs taken into the clinic and supported the approval of Avonex, Angiomax, Farydak, Keytruda, Tagrisso and Lynparza. Steve joined AZ in 2013 as Head of Oncology Drug Discovery with responsibility for target selection, drug discovery and optimization and overseeing biology, pharmacology, DMPK and chemistry resources, a team of 300 staff. He is also the Site head of the AstraZeneca R&D Boston Biohub based in Waltham, MA. Prior to AZ, Steve was Vice President and Discovery Head for Oncology at Merck. During his tenure at Merck, the group advanced 3 novel drugs into the clinic including the anti-PD1 antibody Pembrolizumab (Keytruda). Before that, Steve spent 5 years as Drug Discovery Head for Novartis Oncology in Cambridge, MA, and in this role, he led efforts that resulted in four INDs and supported the HDAC inhibitor Panobinostat (now Farydak) and 15 years at Biogen, forming and leading the Oncology research group there. Steve obtained his PhD at the University of Leeds, UK and completed post-doctoral fellowships at Rutgers Medical School NJ and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now CR-UK) in London.
Danette Daniels, Ph.D., joined Foghorn Therapeutics in February 2022 as VP of the Protein Degrader Platform. She brings more than 20 years of cancer research experience in focused areas of epigenetics, small molecules, and targeted protein degradation.
Prior to joining Foghorn, Danette was a R&D group leader of functional proteomics at Promega Corporation. There she led teams involved in both technology innovation and basic science research, managing collaborations with academic, biotech, and pharma laboratories. She was an early leader in the field of targeted protein degradation, pioneering approaches to monitor cellular kinetics of degradation and most recently, co-developing a new PROTAC modality. These efforts have significantly impacted the broader research community by advancing discovery and enabling mechanistic understanding of this new class of therapeutics.
Danette received her B.A. from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in biophysics from Yale University under the direction of Axel Brunger. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University, funded by the American Cancer Society, with Bill Weis and Roel Nusse. She has published 45 scientific peer-reviewed articles and, as a thought leader in the space, a frequent presenter at seminars, most notably at the New York Academy of Science, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Becky Pferdehirt is a partner on the Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) Bio + Health investing team, where she focuses on early-stage companies building technology platforms for therapeutic discovery and development. Prior to joining a16z, Becky worked at Amgen where she most recently led business development efforts for therapeutic platform partnerships. Before moving to BD Becky was a research scientist in Amgen R&D, focused on cell and gene therapy technology innovation. Becky completed her postdoctoral education at Genentech studying cancer cell biology and proteomics. She holds a PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from UC Berkeley and a BS in Biology from MIT.
After joining Abbott in 2011, Niels has held several positions with Abbott and, since its
inception in 2013, AbbVie, currently serving in the Corporate Strategy Office as Vice
President, Global Head of Search & Evaluation. Transactions that his group and Niels
were involved in include acquisitions (Pharmacyclics, Stemcentrx, Allergan), numerous
R&D collaborations, structured acquisitions, option- and licensing agreements, as well as
equity investments made by AbbVie Ventures. Recent (2022) transactions include
partnerships with Syndesi, Gedeon-Richter, Scripps, and Dragonfly.
Prior to joining AbbVie Niels was CEO of BioPheresis, co-founder and COO of immatics
biotechnologies (IMTX), and a consultant with McKinsey & Company.
Niels received his Ph.D. from University of Tuebingen.
Ryan Potts obtained his Ph.D. in Cell and Molecular Biology from UT Southwestern in 2007. In
2008 he was awarded the Sara and Frank McKnight junior faculty position at UT Southwestern
Medical Center and appointed as Assistant Professor in the Departments of Physiology,
Pharmacology, and Biochemistry in 2011. In 2016 his lab moved to St. Jude Children’s Research
Hospital where he was an Associate Member in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology.
In 2020, he moved to Amgen as Executive Director of Research and Head of the Induced
Proximity Platform that is focused on empowering multi-specific, induced proximity therapeutic
modalities through bold, creative science to expand the druggable genome and reimaging the
future of drug discovery. In 2021, he took over leadership of Amgen’s Postdoctoral Fellows
Program aimed at training the next generation of industry scientists. In recognition to his
important contributions at Amgen, he was promoted to Scientific Vice President in 2023.
Chris O’Donnell, Vice President, Partnering Innovations and Partner, Pfizer Ventures focuses on identifying innovative private biotech companies to invest in and then works as a board member of those companies to help build and grow them with an eye toward partnering with Pfizer. Prior to Pfizer Ventures Chris was a medicinal chemist at Pfizer for ~20 years and was involved in the discovery of over 20 clinical candidates in both neuroscience and oncology (Antibody Drug Conjugates).
Neil Dhawan is the co-founder, CEO and CSO of Totus Medicines, where he has dedicated his life to finding treatments for untreatable diseases. Prior to founding Totus Medicines, Neil co-founded Dual Therapeutics, a venture-backed biotechnology company whose lead asset was licensed to Bristol Myers Squibb in a $225 million deal. Neil co-founded Totus Medicines, the first drug discovery company using breakthrough chemical biology and AI to make the total human genome druggable. Neil’s mission for Totus and his team is to translate revolutions in chemistry, biology and computation into life changing covalent medicines at scale.
Dr. Moty Klepfish is an immunologist with a strong background in inflammation and extracellular matrix
biology. After his time at Compugen, where he focused on immune-oncology and myeloid cell biology,
he transitioned to Anima in 2018. At Anima, he initially took on the role of Fibrosis project leader,
merging his knowledge in immunology, inflammatory diseases, and extracellular matrix biology with
Anima’s expertise in mRNA biology and mRNA visualization. Later, Dr. Klepfish was appointed Head of
Therapeutic Areas, overseeing the progression of both partnered and in-house programs across
Immunology, Oncology, and Neuroscience. He earned his PhD in Immunology from the Weizmann
Sriram Subramaniam is globally recognized for his leading contributions in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). He was the first to show that protein structures at resolutions of ~ 2 Å could be determined using cryo-EM methods. He was also the first to show that cryo-EM could be used to visualize drug binding to clinically relevant targets at atomic resolution, revolutionizing the landscape of drug discovery. Sriram has continued to stay at the forefront of the cryo-EM field by advancing the technology and repeatedly demonstrating that clinically important protein targets can be visualized at high resolution. His other significant contributions include structural studies of membrane proteins using electron crystallography, the development of electron tomographic methods to study HIV-1, influenza, and related viruses for vaccine development, and in pioneering focused ion beam technologies for cell and tissue imaging. Sriram received his PhD in Physical Chemistry from Stanford University and completed postdoctoral training in the Departments of Chemistry and Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Kat Kayser-Bricker is Chief Scientific Officer at Halda Therapeutics, a private biotechnology company developing a proprietary RIPTAC™ modality for the treatment of cancer. She joined Halda in 2019 upon founding by Professor Craig Crews from Yale University. Dr. Kayser-Bricker is an accomplished drug discovery leader with experience across several therapeutic areas and target families, with core expertise in small molecule cancer drug discovery. Previously, Dr. Kayser-Bricker spent 10 years as a key scientific leader at FORMA Therapeutics, where she led numerous projects, technology initiatives, and academic / pharma alliances. She obtained her PhD in organic chemistry from Yale University.
Jenny received her PhD in Laboratory Medicine and Pathobiology from the University of Toronto. She has been responsible for search and evaluation for oncology at multiple big pharmas. She was a director of oncology external innovation for Sanofi before being recruited to AbbVie, where she is now responsible for search and evaluation for oncology ranging from early stage discovery collaborations, ventures, asset licensing to late stage acquisitions. Jenny leads evaluations of external opportunities, scientific due diligence and drives projects to deal closure alongside her BD colleagues.
Dr. Klaus Hoeflich is Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder of Nested Therapeutics. He brings twenty years of experience in R&D of small molecule drug discovery, as well as a strong commitment to pursue novel mechanisms for high conviction targets in order to develop the next generation of precision oncology medicines. Previously, Klaus served as Senior Vice President of Biology at Blueprint Medicines, utilizing their expertise in protein kinases to advance precision therapies for genomic cancers, immuno-oncology, and rare diseases. Before his eight years at Blueprint Medicine, he spent eleven years at Genentech Inc., where his team helped advance several programs into clinical development, including the approval of Cotellic® for metastatic melanoma. Throughout his career, he has contributed to the development of four FDA-approved cancer medicines and has over seventy research publications. Klaus completed his B.S. (Hon) in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Simon Fraser University and earned his Ph.D. in Medical Biophysics from the University of Toronto.
Adam joined Avilar in June 2022 after serving as Chief Business Officer of Flexion Therapeutics, where he was instrumental in the sale of the company to Pacira BioSciences for up to $1B in enterprise value. While at Flexion, Adam was a member of the executive committee and drove construction of a pipeline of novel drug candidates through asset acquisitions, executed a China development and commercialization deal for ZILRETTA®, and orchestrated the R&D efforts of Flexion’s Innovation Lab. Before joining Flexion, he was VP Business Development at Synta Pharmaceuticals and led the strategic transaction process culminating in a merger with Madrigal Pharmaceuticals. Prior to Synta, Adam held business development leadership positions at AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Inotek Pharmaceuticals, EPIX Pharmaceuticals, and Predix Pharmaceuticals, and also performed transaction/strategic advisory work at Locust Walk for biotech and pharmaceutical companies. He holds a BS in Engineering from the University of California, San Diego and a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University.
Meghan M. Dierks, MD, FACS, is the Chief Data Officer at Komodo Health. In this role, Dr. Dierks oversees Komodo’s data strategy, including ensuring the data integrity, integration, connectivity, and security that underlies all of the company’s technology offerings. Dr. Dierks has spent more than twenty years in healthcare informatics and data science, in both internal leadership and advisory roles across a range of organizations and as an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School.
Location and Accommodation
We’re thrilled to announce that the 4th annual Next-Generation Undruggable Summit will be hosted at The Bostonian Boston, nestled in one of the city’s most coveted locations.
Set amid the hustle and bustle of North End Boston near South Station, The Bostonian Boston’s redbrick façade and classic interiors are an iconic blend of old and new. With most major attractions within walking distance, like Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market and The Freedom Trail, all guests are invited to fully immerse themselves in the city’s historical past.
Partner With Us
Bringing together senior-level executives from across the industry, Next Generation Undruggable promises an unrivalled networking and learning opportunity for everyone working in this space.
Next Generation Undruggable provides a rare opportunity to showcase your offering to a dedicated, world-class audience. Spaces are limited this year, please contact our commercial manager, Elliott (firstname.lastname@example.org) to discuss opportunities for involvement.
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