Learn more about our Track speakers & their sessions

Track 1 - Auditorium 1  


Federico Dajas-Bailador | Associate Professor, University of Nottingham & Head of Axon Biology Group

The Axon Biology group is studying axon functionality in neurodevelopment, neurodegeneration and pain and is investigating the role of small non-coding RNAs on the regulation of protein expression and signalling.

 Federico’s talk entitled “A view from the axon side: investigating neuronal function and RNA biology in health and disease using compartmentalised microfluidic culture systems.”

Federico explains why the use of compartmentalised cell culture is essential for his research, “if we were working to scale, the cell body of a neuron could be in Nottingham but the axon terminal could be in Paris!” The axon can be remote from its cell body and can be in a very different extracellular environment. Investigating these differences and the regulatory mechanisms that control and mediate this functional polarity is key in the understanding of neuron development and the processes mediating neuronal degeneration and nociception.

 Join Federico at 11:10am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Dr Caia Dominicus | Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Open Targets Initiative, Wellcome Sanger Institute

Dr Caia's work on the Open Targets Initiative focuses on developing a customisable system to enable high throughput screening of GWAS hits as current candidate gene approaches are insufficient to handle the rapidly expanding list of disease-associated variants.

 In her talk “Developing an experimental platform for functional and transcriptomic analysis of neurodegenerative disease genes”  Dr Caia will cover the use of IPSC-derived inducible cell types in conjunction with CRISPR libraries in neurodegenerative diseases to establish the platform which can then be rolled out into other disease areas.

 Join Dr Caia at 12:10pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Nazia Parvez | Scientist, Cellular Assay Development scientist, GSK

Nazia’s talk “Combined approaches to chemogenomic and functional genomic screening in regulatory T-cells using flow cytometry for inflammation” reviews the challenges of working with 1° CD4+ T-cells, and building high throughput flow cytometric assays. These assays are designed to provide hit compounds identified from a biologically annotated library, in synergy with proteins identified from a gene editing screen.

Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a distinct population of T cells known to suppress the immune response, therefore identifying targets which increase Treg abundance within a total CD4+ T cell population holds potential to opening novel therapeutic strategies for immune diseases.

 Join Nazia at 2pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Hayley Saunders  | Senior Scientist, LifeArc 

Therapeutic molecules, most commonly PROTACS, are used to harness the cell’s natural system, bringing a target protein into close proximity to an E3 ligase, resulting in ubiquitination of your target protein, which triggers the cell to destroy it.

 Hayley’s talk “Novel cell screening applications for probing and annotating TPD mechanism” explains that there are limitations in working in this field as current approaches use a very limited number of E3 ligases , which are not tissue-specific and have associated clinical liabilities. The research aims to identify different ubiquitin ligases which could be utilised for this therapeutic approach i.e. hijacking the cell’s own enzymes.

 A cell-based assay has been developed where the ligases are expressed with their substrate recognition domains replaced to force binding to a fluorescent reporter. Tool PROTACs are used to screen ligases in a 96-well plate format, and if fluorescence decreases that indicates degradation via that novel ligase.

Join Hayley at 2:40pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Maria Ramos Zapeatero | Postdoctoral Fellow, Boden Miller

Maria Ramos Zapatero is currently Postdoctoral Fellow at Bodenmiller Lab at ETH Zurich working with organoids and microenvironment of tumours to develop an understanding of the actions of other cells recruited to the tumour area, however the work presented was carried out in Chris Tape’s lab at UCL.

Maria’s work uses organoids generated from colorectal tumour cells as model systems to monitor the response to different therapies, the organoids are cultured with or without cancer-associated fibroblasts to see the difference in response.

Maria’s talk “Stromal Regulation of Patient-Derived Organoid Drug Responses” describes the study, 10 patients have been used to generate the organoids and each patient organoid is subjected to twelve treatments at different concentrations with and without fibroblasts present. The resulting dataset was reviewed.

 Join Maria at 3:45pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Hope Amos | Scientific Communications Specialist, Nanolive

Hope's talk is titled "A powerful solution for high content label-free live cell imaging and phenotypic screening".

Join Hope at 4:15pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Natacha Bohin | Senior Scientist, AstraZeneca  

 Natacha is part of a cross-functional team that has developed an in vitro bone marrow-on-a-chip (microphysiological systems (MPS)), designed to mimic various aspects of human bone marrow to support assessment of potential haematopoietic toxicity of new therapies and drug combinations. Her talk is focuses on "Humanized in vitro bone marrow microphysiological system enables clinical haematotoxicity predictions of oncology drug combinations".

The bone marrow MPS supports differentiation of hematopoietic stem cells into multiple blood cell types while maintaining stem cells and can be sampled over the course of a study. The platform is compatible with a range of techniques, including flow cytometry and cell culture supernatant analysis.

The bone marrow MPS-generated data can be integrated into a quantitative systems toxicology (QST) modelling approach to describe the response of each cell type to drug challenges and generate predictions of patient haematological profiles for oncology drug combinations.

The use of preclinical bone marrow MPS data and QST modelling to enable clinical translation is an industry first that can be applied to all therapy areas with associated haematological risk.

 Join Natacha at 4:30pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more

Track 2 - Auditorium 2


Kevin Litchfield | Group Leader, UCL Cancer Institute

Kevin's group specialises in immune-oncology bioinformatics, biomarker development and drug target identification. In his talk “Immuno-oncology therapeutic discovery via reverse translation in the multiomic machine learning era” he describes how data generated through the testing of new therapeutic agents in clinical trials can be used to support the discovery of new drugs.

Especially in Phase III clinical trials you obtain big data sets that include information about those who are resistant to the drug or where there is a lack of response. Insights can identify new targets in a process known as reverse translation. Data can be used in other applications too such as identification of more specific biomarkers and stratification of patient populations. Pharma companies are open to data-sharing in the pre-competitive space but there is also a need for responsible use of the data.

Join Kevin at 11:10am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Mike Waring | Chair of Medicinal Chemistry, Newcastle University & Director of Academic Medicinal Chemistry, Cancer Research Horizons

There are many ways to identify hit compounds for drug programmes and Mike describes two approaches with their advantages and disadvantages. Fragment-based lead generation involves screening small molecular fragments (<350 Da) very quickly looking for interactions on the target proteins and then these fragments are incorporated into a larger compound, however these interactions might be very weak or many steps might be need to develop the fragment into a suitable hit compound. DNA-encoded libraries can screen very high numbers of molecules but these molecules are often not focussed in any way to the biological target and can contain compounds that are not ideal in their properties.

Mike’s talk "NUDELs – the synthesis of fragment based and DNA-encoded lead generation” explains how these approaches can be combined to provide a targeted library and tested the strategy by producing a focused library for bromodomain-containing protein 4 (BRD4).

Join Mike at 12:10pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Gayle Marshall | Head of Biomarkers, Medicines Discovery Catapult

Gayle's talk is titled "Integrating Body and Medicine: A new era in Drug Translation."

Join Gayle at 12:40pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Sarah Skerrat | Senior Vice President, Head of Drug Discovery, Charm Therapeutics 

Sarah's talk is titled "Introducing DragonFold: A Deep Learning Protein-Ligand Co-Folding Platform".

Join Sarah at 2pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Kirsten McAulay | Team Leader,  Centre for Targeted Protein Degradation, University of Dundee

Kirsten  heads a multi-disciplinary team concentrating on PROTAC drug discovery in collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim. In her talk entitled "It's Degrading.... Targeted Protein Degradation for Cancer Drug Discovery” she covers the challenges and joys of working with proteolysis-targeting chimeras (PROTACs). These are an emerging class of drug molecules, which make use of the cell’s own degradative pathways.

One of the biggest challenges working with PROTACs is understanding the half-lives of the proteins of interest in different contexts. Kirsten will discuss a recent case study and describe a high-throughput assay format that was developed to enable screening.

Join Kirsten at 2:40pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Giusy Di Conza | Head of Research, iOnctura

iOnctura has several compounds in its pipeline including a phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) δ inhibitor. iOnctura’s compound, IOA-244, is the first non-ATP competitive inhibitor of PI3Kδ. Its unique chemical structure and binding mechanism has resulted in an unprecedented safety profile for this class of drugs, which have historically been affected by safety and toxicology issues.

IOA-244 has been tested in a Phase I clinical trial that had safety as its primary endpoint. In addition to meeting the primary endpoint, promising efficacy data from the trial, together with intriguing biomarker analysis, had confirmed the unique biochemical and biological profile of the molecule. Giusy is presenting the preclinical and clinical data showing the promising results achieved to date. His talk is titled "Reviving the PI3K space: Roginolisib paves the way to safely target PI3Kd in solid and haematologic tumors."

Join Guisy at 3:45pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Panel Discussion | What will prompt a paradigm shift in cancer treatment

Join us for a panel discussion at 4:30pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Track 3 - Auditorium 3


Godwin Aleku |   Lecturer, School of Cancer & Pharmaceutical Sciences, King's College London

Chirality is a property of some chemical compounds that means the molecule can exist in mirror-images of itself. The human body can react different to these mirror image molecules and therefore it is important in pharmaceutical manufacturing that the active version is produced. Traditional organic synthetic chemistry techniques tend to produce mixtures but enzymes, biological catalysts, are selective and produce only one of the forms.

The challenge is that enzymes have an active site that brings two molecules into proximity and catalyses the reaction to combine them into one. The active site is a pocket which sets up the chemical conditions for the reaction to occur but because of active site’s very selectivity sometimes it cannot accommodate larger building blocks.

Godwin’s talk titled “Biocatalysis as an enabling technology in sustainable pharmaceutical synthesis and drug discovery” describes the development of a specific class of enzymes, reductive aminases, which has been utilised by Pfizer in the production of abrocitinib (Cibinqo) which has been approved to treat atopic dermatitis.

Join Godwin at 11:10am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Sona Krajcovicova | Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Cambridge 

At the University of Cambridge, Sona is working in Prof. David Spring's group which uses organic synthesis to design and produce molecules for drug discovery. 

Sona’s talk “Novel synthetic approaches for the next-generation therapeutics” notes how the biological systems make peptide synthesis and modification look easy but when we come to replicate that synthesis in the lab it could become surprisingly difficult. 

Some potential peptide drug compounds are not as stable or as easy to manipulate as we might wish, for example Sona describe a modification of tryptophan (which is one of the less abundant amino acids generally) which can provide an additional covalent link to hold large cyclic peptides in the active conformation or structure.

A second example is drawn from the synthesis of functional linkers for antibody-drug conjugates where the antibody is used to target and deliver a drug to a specific target. During manufacturing it can be hard to control the number of drug molecules attached to the antibody and this can have impacts on efficacy and side-effects – therefore a precise tool for development of such ADCs is highly sought after.

Join Sona at 12:10pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more about the challenges of synthetic chemistry.

Alison Frontier  | Professor of Chemistry, University of Rochester  

Alison and her group at University of Rochester are working in synthetic organic chemistry particularly around cyclization reactions.

Molecules designed to bind and interact with biological targets are not usually linear, these molecules need to have some element of 3D structure. Traditional small molecule therapeutics often contain ring structures but these can be hard to synthesize, with the ring structures being synthesized separately and then bought together. Alison elaborates on this in her talk "Iterative Cyclization Cascades for Organic Synthesis".

 Alison’s group has found an alternative synthetic strategy, identifying a key carbon in the middle of the polycyclic structure and then building outwards in concentric rings, a bit like starting with a single cell of honeycomb and building in circles around it. This allows a complex structure to be built up from a single carbon locus with controlled stereochemistry. Another advantage is that the molecules generated are very good for structure-activity relationship studies as there are many active groups which can be modified.

Join Alison at 2pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Dr Hannah Stewart | Senior Research Associate, Newcastle University 

Hannah is an Early Career Professional, her 20 min talk is titled “Build-Couple-Transform: A new paradigm for late-stage transformations for efficient library synthesis.

Join Hannah at 2:45pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

James Craig | Researcher, University of Birmingham 

At the University of Cambridge, James is at the intersection of biology and chemistry, working on metallo-molecules known as pillarplexes which are designed to fit into the DNA junction, both the geometry of the molecule and the molecule’s interaction with the DNA base pairs. The pillarplexes could be used as novel drugs to prevent the tumour mutation being copied or a virus being able to replicate.

James’s talk “Journey to the centre of the junction: Supramolecular inorganic DNA junction binders”  discusses how DNA doesn’t just exist in the double helical form but can take other geometric shapes such as a 4-way junction (think of a cross roads with a traffic island in the centre) to enable biological processes such as DNA recombination or to repair DNA strands.

Join James at 3:45pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Aiden Johnson | Chemical biology PhD candidate, University of Leeds

Aiden is an Early Career Professional, their 20 min talk is titled “Varied syntheses of chemical probes for TRPC5 channels ” .

Join Aiden at 4:20pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Sam Walsworth | Chemistry PhD researcher, University of Huddersfield

Sam is an Early Career Professional, their 20 min talk is titled “Cytotoxic Ag-NHC complexes as lactate dehydrogenase inhibitors”.

Join Sam at 4:40pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Track 4 - Auditorium 4

Augmenting R&D with AI

Dr Wen Hwa Lee | CEO & Chief Scientist ,  Action Against Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AAAMD)
AAAMD is a research charity focused on tackling the leading cause of legal blindness in developed world. 

In the era of big data, there some things it is wise to remember. Not all data is created equal, uncurated or dirty data can lead to mistaken assumptions, taking scientists down rabbit holes. Data is generated via vast array of different techniques and in different formats so making it accessible is also a challenge.

Finally, and perhaps the biggest issue that we all overlook, data is collected from patients, people who have presented themselves to healthcare professionals once they are ill, not healthy people or pre-symptomatic.

In Lee’s talk “Hidden in plain sight - ophthalmic data for disease-agnostic augmentation of drug discovery R&D with AI”, Lee describes how eye scans, routinely taken during an ophthalmic check-up, are a source of quality data from healthy participants which can be used to support drug discovery research.

Join Lee at 11:10am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Andrew Buchanan | Principal Scientist, Biologics Engineering

There is an expectation that the use of machine learning will accelerate the drug discovery timeline. However, it is Andrew’s personal view that the main benefit will be to provide better information and insight for scientists to make key decisions during discovery. This may result in time saving or the ability to ask new questions for new patient centric studies. 

Andrew is a not specialist in machine learning but rather brings together a cross-disciplinary team who are able to both create, review and mine discovery data. There is truth in the saying ‘garbage in, garbage out’ so having a team that can provide good quality wet-lab data is as important as the data scientists. Proprietary data is often easier to work with as both format and quality of the data is well-understood.

 In Andrew’s talk “Turning science into medicine: Digital, computational and ML tools for biologic molecule design”, he gives case studies showing how biologic molecules  can be  designed and then tested through collaboration and cross-discipline research. 

Join Andrew at 12:10am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Constantin Schneider | Immunoinformatics Research Scientist, Exscientia

Constantin Schneider is an immunoinformatics research scientist at Exscientia working on ways of predicting antibody amino acid sequences, an important step in the process of antibody therapeutics design.

Constantin’s talk “Inverse folding for antibody sequence design using deep learning” describes how the information obtained from antibody backbone structures can be used to train machine learning models to predict their amino acid sequences from structure (inverse folding). The aim of the machine learning model is to be able to take structural information from an antibody of interest and design its amino acid sequence. This inverse folding approach can potentially improve biotherapeutic drug discovery by predicting sequences with good binding and designability characteristics.

Join Constantin at 2pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Lindsay Edwards  | Chief Technology Officer, Relation Therapeutics!

Linday's talk title is TBC. 

Join Lindsay at 2:40pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Thomas Bridge | Machine Learning Engineer, Intellegens

Machine learning (ML) has the potential to transform many aspects of drug discovery and development by enabling research teams to extract hidden value from their data, understanding key relationships within chemical and biological systems that might otherwise remain undiscovered. It can build models that can be used to predict behaviour and to design experiments so that targets are achieved much more rapidly. But there are also a range of practical problems that constrain the use of ML with real pharmaceutical R&D datasets.

Data generated for drug discovery and development often has inherent characteristics that limit analysis. One example is that datasets may record many independent factors but relatively few actual experimental data points. Datasets with these sorts of dimensions pose many issues for ML - they can make it much harder for ML models to find and understand critical relationships within the data. Sparsity of data is another challenge. Not all factors and responses are measured for all experiments. ML models typically don’t like null or empty values and tend to discard the whole instance of that experiment if one value is missing. Finally, it can be difficult to distinguish ‘noise’ in the data - which values are actually significant and which are just background signal and biological variability.

Thomas’s talk “Harnessing AI for R&D in Drug Discovery” uses case studies to show how AI can get around these issues with source data and provide meaningful outputs

Join Thomas at 3:45pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Lee Larcombe | Apexomic

Lee's talk is titled "Skills for augmenting R&D with AI"

Join Lee at 4:30pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Track 5 - ELRIG's Tech Theatre


Zack Gurard-Levin | Science Director, Discovery , Charles River Laboratories

Zack is the Track Chair for this scientific content track and will be opening the track at ELRIG's Tech Theatre with his talk titled "All you need are hits!".

Join Zack at 10:30am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Lorna Suckling  | Team Leader, GSK

Lorna is the Track Chair for this scientific content track and will be opening the track at ELRIG's Tech Theatre with her 5 min talk titled "Robotics in the lab".

Join Lorna at 11am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Dr Hatem Fakhruldeen  | Intelligent Automation Theme Lead, Leverhulme Research Centre for Functional Materials Design, University of Liverpool. 

Dr Hatem's talk is titled "Towards new age of materials discovery using robotics and AI".

Join Dr Hatem at 11:05am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

James  | Director of Enzyme Engineering, Epoch Biodesign

James talk is titled "Synthetic biology and automation for a greener future".

Join James at 11:30am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Daniel Thomas  | Head of Discovery Biology, Arctoris 

Daniel's talk is titled "Digitised Drug Discovery - Exploiting Precision Automation in the Quest for Reproducibility".

Join Daniel at 11.50am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Patrick Courtney | Director & Head of Events and Fundraising, SILA

Patrick is one of the Track Chairs for the Robotics and Automation track and will be kick starting the post-lunch talk, His 5 min introduction focuses on "Automating workflows".

Join Patrick at 2pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Kerstin Thurow | Professor of Automation/Life Science Automation, University of Rostock 

Kerstin's talk is titled "Integrating Mobile Robotics in Life Science Laboratories - Strategies and Challenges".

Join Kerstin at 2:05pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Nessa Carson  | Associate Principal Scientist "Digital Champion", AstraZeneca 

Nessa's talk is titled "Integrating Mobile Robotics in Life Science Laboratories - Strategies and Challenges".

Join Nessa at 2:25pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Burkhard Schaefer  | AniML
Burkhard is one of the Track Chairs for the Robotics and Automation track and will be sharing his insights on "Data in the lab".

Join Burkhard at 3:45pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Andy Mitchell  | Automation (IT) Systems Lead Scientist, Unilever

Andy's talk is TBC.

Join Andy at 3:50pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

James Love  | Vice President, Automation and Process Optimization, Novo Nordisk

James' talk is TBC.

Join James at 4:10pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Track 6 - The Viewing Terrace


Dr Slavé Petrovski | Vice President and Head of Centre for Genomics Research, Astrazeneca

Dr Slavé's talk is titled "Genomics for drug discovery and development: An AstraZeneca Perspective".

Join Slavé' at 11:10am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Dr Richard Turner| Director, Pharmacogenomics & Clinical Studies, GSK 

Dr Richard's talk is TBC

Join Richard at 11:40am on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Dr Panos Zalmas | Head of Open Targets Validation Lab, Wellcome Sanger Institute 

Dr Panos' talk is titled "Drug target identification and validation within the Open Targets consortium".

Join Panos at 2pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Dr David Michalovich | Independent Consultant

Dr Davis's' talk is titled "Evolution of genomics in drug discovery - converging to causality".

Join David at 2:40pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Dr Maik Pietzner | Group leader, Charité Berlin, Berlin Institute of Health

Dr Maik's talk is titled "Proteogenomic approaches for drug target discovery and repurposing".

Join Maik at 12:10pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Dr David Cavalla | Founder, Numedicus Ltd

Dr Davis's' talk is titled "Known knowns to unknown unknowns – Network analysis of the repurposome".

Join David at 4:30pm on Wednesday the 18th to hear more.

Track 7 - Auditorium 1

Hit identification and screening - supported by SLAS 

Anna Vulpetti | Associate Director, Data Science , Novartis

Anna's talk is titled "Low molecular weight inhibitors of IL-1β: from a 19F NMR fragment hit to a cellular proof of concept".

Join Anna at 11:10am on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Laura Usselmann | Senior Scientist, AstraZeneca 

Some techniques are well-known but need adaption for use in new applications. Thermal shift assays, where the melting temperature change of a protein changes when a ligand is bound, is one such technique.

In Laura’s talk “HiBiT CETSA for Hit Discovery in AstraZeneca: The journey to lowered hit rates and successful triage”, she describes how thermal shift assay on intact cells (CETSA) can be optimised to screen 500,000 compounds for binding to a target protein. In the absence of a known ligand to the target protein, the team simulated the expected thermal shift to optimise and validate the experimental approach. The resultant low active rate made for improved hit triage. Hit triage was further enabled by the development of automation workflows to run CETSA melt curves at higher throughput.

Join Laura at 12:05pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Jordi Carreras-Puigvert |   Chief Scientific Officer, Phenaros Pharmaceuticals

Jordi Carreras-Puigvert is Associate Professor in preclinical drug discovery, and co-leads the Pharmaceutical Bioinformatics group (https://pharmb.io/) at Uppsala University, Sweden. Chief Scientific Officer at Phenaros Pharmaceuticals (https://www.phenaros.com/), an AI-first drug discovery startup.

Cell painting is a young technique with a growing list of applications in drug discovery, mechanism of action elucidation and for assessing cellular toxicity. Cells are treated with the compound of interest and then stained with six dyes which in combination allow images of eight organelles to be captured and analysed. This provides a snapshot of the cell’s response to the compound by identifying the morphology changes that occur.

Jordi’s talk “Leveraging morphological profiling, AI and automation as a drug discovery engine” describes how cell painting and the morphological changes that occur when a cell is challenged, can be used as a predictive tool. Giving an example of utilising a high resolution image data set of cells exposed to more than 5000 drugs to predict mechanism of action, as well as for drug discovery.

Join Jordi at 2pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Cyrielle Doigneux | Team Leader of Screening, Curve Therapeutics 

Curve Theraputics are specialists in working with cyclic peptide libraries and screening tools. They developed a platform for the production of cyclic peptide libraries within a mammalian cell. The Microcycle library of 3.2 million hexapeptides is screened against disease targets in their native, intracellular environment. In addition, Curve Therapeutics have a microfluidic platform which will enable screening the Microcycle library against cell-membrane based targets in live cells.

These technologies have been used in combination with high-throughput assays to identify inhibitors against challenging target, and Cyrielle will be giving some specific examples during her talk on “Platforms for the generation and high-throughput screening of cyclic peptide libraries".

Join Cyrielle at 2:45pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Dorota Herman | Senior Scientist in Discovery Data Science, Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Dorota's talk is titled "Machine Learning-augmented hit prioritization and expansion".

Join Dorota at 3:45pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Rob Van Montfort | Team Leader & Read, Institute of Cancer Research 

BCL6 is a human protein and transcription factor that has been proposed as a therapeutic target for the treatment of Diffuse Large B-cell Lymphoma (DLBCL). Disruption of the interaction between BCL6 and its co-repressors inhibits the growth of DLBCL cancer cells, so the drug discovery group at the Institute of Cancer Research sought to discover small-molecule inhibitors of this interaction.  However, to target a protein-protein interaction, such as the BCL6-corepressor interaction, is very challenging because the protein binding sites are usually shallow and large and is it often difficult to find small molecules that bind tightly within such binding sites.

Rob’s talk “Discovering potent and cell-active BCL6 inhibitors through a comprehensive and integrated hit identification campaign” describes how the use of a broad small molecule screening campaign comprising fragment, high throughput and virtual-screening followed by a range of complementary biochemical techniques and biophysical methods was crucial in identifying and confirming BCL6-corepressor interaction inhibitors and guided the structure-based optimisation of the hit compounds to very potent small-molecule BCL6 inhibitors.

Join Rob at 4:15pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Track 8 - Auditorium 2


Livija Deban | CSO, Prokarium

Prokarium is, a biotech company aiming to develop sustainable therapeutics at the convergence of synthetic biology and immunology.

The oncology field is remarkable innovations, but challenges such as unsustainability, cost, restricted efficacy, and side effects. The toxicity is, in part, caused as tumour cells can ‘cloak’ or ‘hide’ themselves from the immune system, making the tumour environment hard to target and penetrate.

Prokarium is introducing a novel approach to address these challenges: Living Cures. The platform provides a way to target delivery of therapeutic cargo, both in time and to a specific location. Such accurate targeting will both improve efficacy and reduce off-target side effects. Livija's talk is titled "Reengineering evolution into a synthetic biology platform for novel immunotherapies".

Join Livija at 11:05am on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Víctor Sebastián Pérez | Exscientia 

Victor's talk is titled "Using AI for complex target product profiles through scalable precision design".

Join Victor at 12:05pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Anne Neville | Director Discovery Microbiology,  Microbiotica

At Microbiotica, Anne leads the team specialising in microbial cultivation and the application of genomics techniques to the human gut microbiota. Often we forget that each person is their own ecosystem, we are more dependent than we realise on the microorganisms we hold inside  and out for our health and well being. Microbiotica has built a library that includes many novel bacterial species and strains from stool samples and looks to understand their contribution to our health as well as illness.

Anne’s talk “Translating precision in microbiome science into novel medicines” explains how the knowledge being acquired from our microbiome can be utilised to develop therapies using live microorganisms. Microbiotica is starting clinical trials with two therapies, one for the treatment of ulcerative colitis and another designed to stimulate cancer patients to respond favourably to immune checkpoint inhibitor therapy.

Join Anne at 2pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

David Llewellyn  | Founder, DJS Antibodies 

DJS Antibodies was founded in 2015 and was successfully acquired by AbbVie in 2022. 

David explains how his scientific curiosity caused him to take a different route from perhaps the more well-known academic or industrial career after his PhD. The spark was wanting to take an idea about how to produce antibodies against challenging targets and translate it into reality.

 His talk “Turning an idea into a successful company” charts the requirements of fundamental research, an understanding of the therapeutic needs, building a capable team and identifying commercial opportunities.

Join David at 2:45pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Laura Sepp-Lorenzino | Intellia Therapeutics

Laura's talk is titled "Realizing the Promise of In Vivo CRISPR Therapeutics".

Join Laura at 3:45pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Dan Anderson | Eikon Therapeutics

Dan's talk is titled "Single Molecule Tracking at Industrial Scale to Enable Drug Discovery".

Join Dan at 4:15pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Track 9 - Auditorium 3


Larissa Ouru | GSK

Larissa Ouro is a Scientist at GSK working on therapeutic antibody selection and optimisation.

The routinely used antibody screening cascade for discovery of therapeutic antibodies uses a wide range of platforms and techniques.

However, human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) may not display the required cross-reactivity which is needed for the assays utilised in the development process.

Larissa’s talk “Discovery and Optimisation of Therapeutic Antibodies: Current Technologies, Successes, and Challenges” examines antibodies discovered using the screening and development and is illustrated by case studies demonstrating the actions that can be taken to introduce cross-reactivity.

Join Larissa at 11:05am on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Anna Puszkarska | Senior Scientist, Machine Learning for Biologics Design

Anna's talk is titled "Machine Learning for Biomolecule Engineering".

Join Anna  at 12:05am on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Zahra Jawad  | CEO and Founder,  Creasallis 

Zahra's talk "Creating Enhanced Biotherapeutics for Oncology: The Drug Discovery Perspective" details her experiences of the challenges of working in innovation in large pharma with resources and equipment being understandably prioritised for existing pipeline compounds. 

A tumour is a difficult environment to access with any kind of therapeutic agent, even those that are targeted to the tumour specifically. Creasallis has found a way to improve access to tumours for  antibody or protein derived compounds.

Simply put, a normal protein or antibody drug may have the address of the tumour but the door is only open a little. Using the Creasallis technology, the door can be opened wide, allowing much more therapeutic agent to reach the tumour cells, improving efficacy and reducing side-effects.

Join Zahra at 2pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Daniel Wing  | Bicycle Therapeutics

Daniel’s talk “Bicycles: An entirely new approach to targeting disease” describes bicyclic peptides and discusses their potential to be developed into effective therapeutic agents.

Bicyclic peptides (Bicycles) are short peptides, approximately 9-20 residues long, that have been chemically constrained by a central scaffold, improving binding affinity to the target protein and resistance to degradative pathways.

Bicycles combine the pharmacological properties normally associated with a biologic with the manufacturing and PK advantages of a small molecule. Bicycles are chemically synthesised, making them easier to scale for manufacture and be used as building blocks to form large complexes.

Join Daniel at 2:45pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Katy Everett | Director of Discovery, F-star Therapeutics 

F-star’s approach is to generate bispecific antibodies that maintain the natural antibody format and with four antigen-binding sites (tetravalency) that gives versatility in the choice of targets and mechanisms of action.

Cancer cells can evade the immune system and Katy’s talk “Next-generation tetravalent bispecific antibodies for cancer immunotherapy” describes the development of FS222, a tetravalent bispecific antibody that binds CD137 (4-1BB) and PD-L1, and can potently reduce this evasion so that the tumour cell can be destroyed by immune cells. One of the biggest challenges for such approaches is targeting and tuning this activity into the tumour and minimising side effects. FS222 is being evaluated in patients with advanced cancer in a Phase 1 clinical study.

Join Katy at 3:45pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more

Paul Devine | AstraZeneca

Paul's talk is titled "Incorporating Flexibility Into the Analytical Toolbox to Keep up with the Challenges of New Modalities".

Join Paul at 4:15pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Track 10 - Auditorium 4


Paul Workman | Harrap Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, The Institute of Cancer Research

Cancer research was given a big helping hand when the human genome was sequenced which provided all possible targets. However, there was an issue, the resulting proteins were poorly annotated and their functions were not always known.

One way to investigate the target protein is to use high-quality chemical probes or tools to selectively modulate the function of proteins of interest; these chemical probes are usually inhibitors but not always. The chemical probes affect the function of the protein and the downstream effects can be observed and attributed to the protein. Use of high-quality chemical probes opened up the fields of nuclear hormone receptor, dark kinome and eougenetic targets, as three examples.

Chemical probes are small molecule tools that are cell permeable and must be potent and very selective towards the protein of interest - thus these chemical probes may often be more selective that the resulting therapeutic agent due to the other requirements for an effective drug.

Paul’s talk “Progress on the promise and peril of chemical probes – tools for functional protein annotation and target validation in drug discovery” describes consensus best practice and the typical mistakes that are commonly made when using chemical probes for target identification and drug discovery. He will also describe the use of the chemical probes portal and new probes and negative control reagents for protein kinases.

Join Paul at 11:05am on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Harry Wilders | GSK

Harry commenced his PhD during the pandemic and efforts at that time where focused applying strategies and techniques to various targets on SARS-CoV-2. The approach taken is suitable for wider anti-viral hit identification.

In Harry’s talk “A ‘direct-to-biology’ platform for the rapid identification and optimisation of novel, irreversible antivirals”, he describes the challenges and advantages of direct-to-biology screening for hit identification and optimisation.

Essentially, each well contains a structural fragment and protein in solution is added, binding is assessed using liquid chromatography – mass spectrometry (LC-MS) by identifying the mass difference. No purification steps are needed and as LC-MS is a widely used technique this approach can be adopted and scaled easily. Limitations are that the fragment must be tightly bound and no information about the binding site is gained, therefore functional assays should be used in parallel.

Join Harry at 12:05pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Natalia Swiatek | Medicinal and Synthetic Chemistry PhD student, Imperial College London

Natalia's talk is TBC.

Join Natalia  at 12:20pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Anne Valade  | Director Medicinal Chemistry, UCB Biopharma

Anne's talk is titled "Optimisation of MSK-1/2 Inhibitors Leading to Orally Bioavailable and CNS Penetrant in vivo Tool Compounds".

Join Anne at 2pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Alba Diaz-Rodriguez  | GSK Fellow and Investigator,  GSK

Alba's talk is TBC.

Join Alba at 2:24pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Kelly Chibale | Professor of Organic Chemistry,  University of Cape Town, South Africa

Malaria as a disease for drug discovery poses some significant challenges. Combating malaria doesn’t just mean treating the disease once it has been acquired, the longer term aim is to eradicate malaria completely. This requires a holistic approach, including preventing the spread of malaria through both drug and practical measures and treating the disease once infected. However, there is growing resistance to antimalarial drugs which, if not addressed, could render all medicines useless and malaria impossible to treat.

Kelly’s talk “Cell-based lead discovery and optimization of malaria preclinical and clinical candidates” describes an alternative approach, researching how to target proteins that are expressed at different stages of the human malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum lifecycle. This information is used to look at candidates which may have efficacy at multiple stages of the life cycle or identify novel targets.  

Join Kelly at 3:45pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Anilkumar Nair  | Principal Scientist, MSD 

PCSK9 is a well-validated target, with strong human genetics implicating a role for PCSK9 in regulating LDL cholesterol, a key risk factor for cardiovascular outcomes.

 In his talk “Capability Enablement in Oral Peptide Drug Discovery: Design and Synthesis Approaches in PCSK9i Towards the Discovery of MK-0616”,  Anilkumar discusses the challenge of designing a PCSK9i therapeutic candidate suitable for oral administration. Monoclonal antibodies (mAB) and a RNAi therapeutic have been approved that target the PCSK9-LDL interaction in the to lower PCSK9 protein levels. These agents require parenteral administration. A PCSK9 inhibitor that can be taken orally, as a pill, and can achieve a similar magnitude of lowering of LDL-Cholesterol would offer a potentially important option for patients. PCSK9 has a wide and shallow binding site and traditional small molecules cannot bind with sufficient affinity to effectively block the interaction. There is increased recognition of the opportunity to identify therapeutic agents that combine the strong binding properties of a mAb in an oral delivery form. Macrocyclic peptides are large enough to bind more efficiently and are also suitable for oral dosing.

Join Anilkumar at 4:15pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Track 11 - ELRIG's Tech Theatre


Lisa Ofee | Institute of Cancer Research

Lisa's talk is TBC.

Join Lisa at 11:05am on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Anthony Holmes | Institute of Cancer Research

Anthony's talk is TBC.

Join Anthony at 11:35am on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Philippe Rocca-Serra | AstraZeneca

Philippe's talk is TBC.

Join Philippe at 11:50am on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Talia Caplan | Wellcome Sanger Institute 

Talia talk is TBC.

Join Talia at 12:05pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Fiona Adshead | Chair, Sustainable Healthcare Coalition

Fiona's talk is TBC.

Join Fiona at 2pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Robert Williams | AstraZeneca

Robert's talk is TBC.

Join Robert at 2:15pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Martin de Kort | EATRIS

Martin 's talk is TBC.

Join Martin at 2:30pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Caireen Hargreaves | AstraZeneca

Caireen's talk is TBC.

Join Caireen at 3:45pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.

Jim Bratherton | Thermo Fisher Scientific

Jim'stalk is TBC.

Join Jim at 4:05pm on Thursday the 19th to hear more.


ELRIG is a not-for-profit organisation serving the life science & drug discovery communities.