CDD Hosts Inspiring 4th Annual UCSF Community Meeting

This past Thursday, on the 21st of October, CDD hosted the 4th Annual CDD-UCSF Community Meeting on “Catalyzing Drug Discovery Research” at the Mission Bay Conference Center in San Francisco. More than 200 registrants signed up to participate. With a diverse group of eight speakers and panelists, the meeting explored the challenges drug discovery faces today across the industry ecosystem and therapeutic areas. It was truly wonderful to have colleagues from academia, industry, non-profit, and government backgrounds come together under one roof and share their experiences.

This year, CDD Product Manager Kellan Gregory began the meeting by highlighting what’s new with the CDD application. Much of the focus was on Projects, soon-to-be released functionality that will enhance the capability to share research data securely using CDD.

The meeting was officially kicked off by Stephanie Robertson, PhD, Project Director at UCSF QB3 and CDD CEO Barry Bunin, PhD. After the introduction Steve Burrill, CEO of Burrill & Company, gave a stirring keynote presentation on the past and future of the health care and biotechnology industries, with an emphasis on innovation and adaptation of technologies to revolutionize the way medicine is practiced.

Phil Skolnick, PhD, Director of the Division of Pharmacotherapies and Medical Consequences of Drug Abuse at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) spoke about the neglected nature of drug addictions, strategies for developing therapeutics to treat these addictions, and the importance of patient compliance for effective testing of these therapies in the clinic.

Ricardo Macarrón, PhD, VP of Sample Management Technologies at GlaxoSmithKline, then gave a talk on the track record to date of high throughput screening (HTS). The first segment of his talk provided context by examining the history and evolution of HTS as a tool to aid drug discovery, after which Dr. Macarrón elucidated the virtues of HTS, in particular the return on investment and drugs developed as a result of the tool.

Clifton Barry, PhD, Senior Investigator of the Tuberculosis Section of the National Institute of Allergy & Infection Diseases, gave an impassioned yet deeply scientific talk on using quantitative HTS to identify novel targets for treating tuberculosis.

The 25+ poster presenters showcased their groundbreaking research during the lunch hour, after which Dr. Barry, Dr. Skolnick, and Dr. Macarrón sat on a panel on humanitarian and commercial drug discovery moderated by Dr. Robertson.

After the panel, Jonathan Baell, PhD, Medicinal Chemistry Group Leader at the Walter & Elizabeth Hall Institute for Medical Research, gave a provocative talk on PAINS (Pan-assay Interference compounds), structure moieties that are promiscuous across numerous assays and should be deemed unsuitable for continued research.

Michael Pollastri, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemistry & Chemical Biology at Northeastern University, highlighted the effectiveness of the distributed model for collaborating on repurposing drugs to combat neglected & tropical diseases.

Andrea Altieri, PhD, Head of Project Development at ASINEX, focused his talk on how ASINEX can support the drug discovery community by providing compound libraries with distinct lead-like qualities.

After a brief talk by CDD Director of Community Growth Sylvia Ernst inviting the attendees to put forth ideas for expanding the CDD community, the second and final keynote talk was given by Richard Elliott, PhD, Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr. Elliott discussed lessons that can be learned from neglected diseases medications, managing risks for “ugly” compounds (compounds that go against the rules) that are still effective, and urging researchers not to be too dogmatic about judging molecules.

The final presentation of the day consisted of a panel with Dr. Elliott, Dr. Baell, Dr. Pollastri, Dr. Altieri, and Sorena Nadaf, CIO of the UCSF Helen Diller Comprehensive Cancer Center, on tying together academic, foundation, and industry principles to solve the toughest challenges of drug discovery.

During the wine and cheese reception after the talks, Veena Thomas of Stanford University and Amelia Fuller of Santa Clara University were chosen as the winners of the “Best Poster” and the “Best Idea to Expand the CDD Community” drawings. Congratulations to both!

Below are the speaker presentations approved to be shared with the community:

Steve Burrill (Excerpt)
Phil Skolnick
Clifton Barry
Jonathan Baell
Michael Pollastri
Richard Elliott

For Steve Burrill’s full keynote talk, or for Ricardo Macarrón or Andrea Altieri’s presentation, please contact CDD.