Speakers

Mibel Aguilar 
Monash University,
Australia

 

Professor Mibel Aguilar is a Bioanalytical and Biophysical Chemist at Monash University whose research focuses on biomembrane nanotechnology, peptidomimetic drug design and biomaterials for regenerative medicine. She completed her PhD in Chemistry at the University of Melbourne studying the metabolism and toxicity of paracetamol. She then completed a Post Doctoral position at St Vincent’s Institute for Medical Research working on developing physical models for protein analysis and purification. She then moved to Monash University where her group now focuses on peptide-based biomaterials and drug design and biomembrane nanotechnology and are developing novel compounds that allow us to exploit the potential of peptides as drugs. She has published 200 papers and 26 book chapters, and edited a volume of Methods in Molecular Biology on HPLC publications. She has also supervised several PhD and Honours students.
Her group focuses on peptide-based drug and biomaterial design and biomembrane nanotechnology. They are developing novel compounds that allow us to exploit the potential of peptides as drugs, with a focus on new compounds for treatments of cardiovascular disease. They are also developing novel self-assembling systems for the production of new biomaterials and nanomaterials for tissue engineering. Their membrane nanotechnology projects involve the development of new biosensor methods for the analysis of membrane-mediated processes such as apoptosis, G protein-coupled receptor function and antimicrobial peptide function.

Paul Alewood
University of Queensland,
Australia

 

Paul Alewood is a Group Leader and Professor of chemistry at the Institute for Molecular Bioscience (IMB), the University of Queensland.  He obtained his PhD in Organic Chemistry at the University of Calgary (Canada) and undertook postdoctoral studies at the Universities of Geneva, London and Melbourne before taking up a lectureship at the Victorian College of Pharmacy in 1985.  He was a foundation staff member at Australia’s first private university (Bond University, Queensland) before moving to the University of Queensland in 1990 and helped form the IMB in 2000. In 2015, he was granted a Principal Research Fellowship by the National Health and Medical Research Council, Australia.
His research encompasses the broad fields of peptide, protein and medicinal chemistry with major interests in the development of novel chemistry to modulate structure and function of cysteine-rich bioactive peptides, the design and synthesis of new peptide drugs, peptidomimetics and proteomics. Current research targets involve the discovery of novel toxins from Australia’s venomous creatures, the design of mediators of neuropathic pain and ion channel therapeutics.
He was a co-founder of the Melbourne-based peptide company, Auspep, and Xenome, a spin-off biopharmaceutical company from the IMB (UQ). Through commercial partners AMRAD and Xenome, AM336 and Xen2174 entered the clinic for the treatment of neuropathic pain. He co-founded the Australian Peptide Society in 1990 and is the chairman and founder of the Venoms to Drugs Symposium.  He is author of over 300 journal articles plus 14 patents and has trained more than 50 postgraduate students.

Bobby Arora
New York University,
USA

 

Paramjit (Bobby) Arora is a Professor of Chemistry at New York University. He obtained his B.S. in Chemistry from UC Berkeley and received his Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from UC Irvine with James Nowick. He then pursued a postdoctoral fellowship at the California Institute of Technology with Peter Dervan before joining the faculty of New York University in 2002. The Arora research group uses rational design to develop peptides and peptidomimetics to interrogate protein-protein interactions.

Dame Margaret Brimble
University of Auckland,
New Zealand

 

Margaret Brimble is the Director of Medicinal Chemistry and a Distinguished Professor at the University of Auckland, New Zealand where her research program focuses on the synthesis of bioactive natural products, antimicrobial peptides, cancer vaccines, glycopeptides, self-assembling peptides and peptidomimetics. She has published >460 papers, 60 reviews and is an inventor on >30 patents. In 2018 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society London and was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry George and Christine Sosnovsky Award in Cancer Therapy. She won the 2016 Marsden Medal, the 2012 RSNZ Rutherford (NZ’s top science prize), MacDiarmid and Hector Medals, the 2011 Royal Australian Chemical Institute Adrien Albert Award, the 2010 RSC Natural Products Award, the 2007 L’Oreal-UNESCO Women in Science laureate in Materials Science for Asia-Pacific, a 2015 IUPAC Distinguished Women in Chemistry/Chemical Engineering Award and conferred the Queen’s Honour CNZM. She is Past-President of IUPAC Organic and Biomolecular Division III, an Associate Editor for Organic Letters, former Associate Editor for Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry and Past-Chair of the Rutherford Foundation RSNZ.  She discovered the first drug named “trofinetide” to treat Rett Syndrome and Fragile X syndrome that is in phase III clinical trials with Neuren Pharmaceuticals. Trofinetide is New Zealand’s first successful drug and one of only a few to be discovered in an academic laboratory. Margaret also co-Founded the spin-out company SapVax with US$6 million funding from BioMotiv USA to take self-adjuvanting cancer vaccines based on a novel chemistry platform, to clinical trial (see: https://sapvaxllc.com).

Florence Brunel
Novo Nordisk,
USA

 

Florence Brunel is a Senior Research Scientist at Novo Nordisk Research Center Indianapolis. She received her MS at the Ecole Nationale Superieure de Chimie de Montpellier (1999) and her Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Louisville in 2003, under Prof. Arno F. Spatola. Her postdoctoral work was completed at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego where she was a CHRP (California HIV / AIDS Research Program) and a AmFAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research) fellow under the supervison of Prof. Phil Dawson. She has worked at various biopharmaceutical companies  (Amylin, Pfizer, Vertex) prior to her tenure with Novo Nordisk working with Prof. Richard DiMarchi. Her expertise in peptides resides in improving their potency, stability and duration of action, as well as synthesizing and purifying peptide-protein conjugates with the ultimate goal to develop peptide-based molecules to address unmet medical needs mainly in the metabolic area.

Kate Carroll
Scripps Research Florida,
USA

 

Kate S. Carroll is an Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute in Jupiter, Florida. She received her B.A. degree in Biochemistry from Mills College in 1996 and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Stanford University in 2003. Her postdoctoral work was completed at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Chancer Fund Fellow with Prof. Carolyn Bertozzi. She was an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan until 2010, when she joined the Chemistry faculty at Scripps. From 2014 – 2017, Dr. Carroll was a permanent member of the Synthetic and Biological Chemistry NIH Study Section A and currently serves as an associate editor at ACS Chemical Research in Toxicology (2018 – ). She is also on the editorial board of Cell Chemistry and Biology and a member of ‘Faculty of 1000’. Dr. Carroll is the recipient of the ACS Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry (2013), Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2010), Scientist Development Award from American Heart Association (2008), and Special Fellow Award from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (2006). In 2016, Dr. Carroll was elected by her peers to serve as Vice-Chair (2018) and Chair (2020) of the Thiol-Based Redox Regulation & Signaling GRC.
Professor Carroll’s research interests span the disciplines of chemistry and biology with an emphasis on studies of sulfur biochemistry pertinent to disease states. Her lab focuses on the development of novel tools to study redox modifications of cysteine thiols, profiling changes in protein oxidation associated with disease, and exploiting this information for development of diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.

Greg Challis
University of Warwick,
UK

 

Greg Challis graduated with a BSc in Chemistry (1994) from Imperial College London and a DPhil in Organic Chemistry (1998) from the University of Oxford, for research carried out under the supervision of Prof. Sir Jack Baldwin FRS. He carried out postdoctoral research as a Wellcome Trust International Prize Travelling Research Fellow in the Department of Chemistry at Johns Hopkins University, USA, with Prof. Craig Townsend (1998-2000) and in the Department of Genetics at John Innes Centre, UK, with Prof. Keith Chater FRS (2000-2001). In 2001 he took up a lectureship in Chemical Biology in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick. In 2006 he was promoted to Professor. In July 2016, he was appointed as the Warwick-Monash Professor of Sustainable Chemistry (Chemical and Synthetic Biology), a joint position between the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick, and the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. His research interests encompass the discovery, biosynthesis, bioengineering and mechanism of action of microbial natural products.

Norelle Daly
James Cook University,
Australia

 

Norelle Daly is a Professor of Structural Biology at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. She obtained her PhD in Biochemistry from The University of Queensland. Her postdoctoral studies helped define and characterise the cyclotides, a family of disulfide-rich cyclic peptides present in plants. Her current studies focus on elucidating structure/function relationships of peptides derived from parasite proteins, with the aim of developing lead molecules for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

Ben Davis
University of Oxford,
UK

 

Ben Davis got his B.A. (1993) and D.Phil. (1996) under the supervision of Professor George Fleet from the University of Oxford. He then spent 2 years as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor Bryan Jones at the University of Toronto. In 1998 he took up a lectureship at the University of Durham before receiving a fellowship at Pembroke College and returning to University of Oxford in 2001. He was promoted to Full Professor in 2005.
His group's research centres on the chemical understanding and exploitation of biomolecular function (Synthetic Biology, Chemical Biology and Chemical Medicine), with an emphasis on carbohydrates and proteins. In particular, the group's interests encompass synthesis and methodology; target biomolecule synthesis; inhibitor/probe/substrate design; biocatalysis; enzyme & biomolecule mechanism; biosynthetic pathway determination; protein engineering; drug delivery; molecular biology; structural biology; cell biology; glycobiology; molecular imaging and in vivo biology.
Ben’s work has been recognized by a number of Prizes, Awards and named Lecturerships, including to name a few the Royal Society of Chemistry Meldola Prize, Carbohydrate Award, Corday-Morgan Medal, Bio-organic Chemistry Award, as well as the American Chemical Society Ronald Breslow Award in Biomimetic Chemistry and the Prix Paul Ehrlich of the Société de Chimie Thérapeutique. In 2005 he was elected the UK representative and Secretary (2005-2013) of the European Carbohydrate Organisation and from 2011-2014 the President of the RSC Chemical Biology Division.
Ben Davis was co-founder of Glycoform, a biotechnology company that from 2002-2011 investigated the therapeutic potential of synthetic glycoproteins and of Oxford Contrast a company investigating the use of molecular imaging for brain disease. In 2003 he was named among the top young innovators in the world by Technology Review, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)'s magazine of innovation in the TR35 awards and was a finalist in the BBSRC Innovator of the Year competition in 2010. He was elected to the Royal Society in 2015.

Phil Dawson
The Scripps Research
Institute,
USA

 

Philip Dawson is a Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Scripps Research in La Jolla, CA and is the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. He received his A.B. (1992) in chemistry from Washington University, and Ph.D. (1996) from Scripps Research under the guidance of Steve Kent. Following postdoctoral work at Caltech, he returned to Scripps as Assistant Professor. He has served as President of the American Peptide Society, the Board of Directors for FASEB and co-chaired the 22nd American Peptide Symposium and the 2016 GRC. He has published over 150 papers, and has been honored with an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation fellowship, the Vincent du Vigneaud Award, the Max Bergmann Kreis Gold Medal and the Zervas Award.

Ethan Goddard Borger
WEHI,
Australia

 

Ethan Goddard-Borger is an Associate Professor at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia. He obtained his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Western Australia in 2008. During this time, he developed the inexpensive and shelf-stable diazotransfer reagent imidazole-1-sulfonyl azide, which is now an item of commerce and is routinely used in chemical synthesis, materials chemistry and chemical biology. His postdoctoral studies were conducted with Prof. Stephen Withers at the University of British Columbia (2009-2013), where he developed pharmacological chaperones for the treatment of lysosomal storage disorders. Ethan began his independent research career at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in 2013. Using a combination of chemical, molecular and structural biology techniques, his laboratory studies the proteins the build, break and bind glycans within the context of human disease.

 

Lauren Goodrich 
Roche,
USA

 

Lauren Goodrich is a scientist, manager at Roche Madison. Dr. Goodrich works on the Innovation Technology team, where she focuses on drug discovery related applications of the peptide microarray synthesis platform. She holds a Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Michigan.

Christian Hackenberger
FMP,
Germany

 

Christian P. R. Hackenberger completed his graduate studies at the universities of Freiburg and UW Madison and his doctoral studies in 2003 at the RWTH Aachen. After a postdoctoral position at MIT with Barbara Imperiali, he started his own group at the Freie Universität Berlin in 2005 funded by the German Science Foundation in the Emmy Noether Program and the Boehringer-Ingelheim Foundation within the Plus 3 award. In 2012, he was appointed Leibniz-Humboldt Professor for Chemical Biology at the Leibniz-Research Institute for Molecular Pharmacology and the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. His group works on the development of new chemoselective and bioorthogonal reactions for proteomic research and novel approaches to functional protein synthesis and delivery, in particular for the labeling and modification of different antibody formats. Since 2018, he is co-founder of the planned start-up 'Tubulis Technologies', a company that ventures into developing better tolerable cancer drugs based on protein- and antibody-drug conjugates.

Harald Janovjak
EMBL Australia/Monash
University,
Australia

 

Harald Janovjak received his undergraduate degree in Biology from the Biocenter of the University of Basel (2002) and his doctorate for research in single-molecule biophysics from the laboratory of Daniel J. Müller at the University of Technology, Dresden (2005). After post-doctoral research in the laboratories of Ehud Y. Isacoff at the University of California Berkeley (2006-2010) and Dirk Trauner (2010-2011) at the Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich in molecular neuroscience, Harald joined the Institute of Science and Technology Austria near Vienna as an Assistant Professor. Since 2018, Harald is an EMBL Australia group leader based at the Australian Regenerative Medicine Institute (ARMI) and Monash University. His principle research interest is to manipulate animal physiology using synthetic biology with a ocus on identifying new approaches for tissue regeneration. Harald has published more than fifty articles and supervised 20 students at the Honours, Masters, Diploma and PhD level. Harald received the Future Research Leader award of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, a career integration grant of the European Union framework program, a long-term fellowship of the European Molecular Biology Organization, and young investigator fellowships of the Swiss National Science Foundation and the German Research Foundation.

 

Yasuhiro Kajihara 
Osaka University,
Japan

 

Yasuhiro Kajihara is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, Osaka University, with a particular interest in oligosaccharides and glycoproteins. In order to synthesize homogeneous glycoproteins, we have developed new efficient semi-synthetic methods. Short glycopeptide-thioesters are synthesized by solid phase peptide synthesis and non-glycosylated long peptides are produced by E. coli recombinant expression methods. Subsequently selective chemical activation is used for installation of C-terminal thioester and N-terminal cysteine surrogates. In this presentation, I would like to discuss efficient glycoprotein syntheses and the function of oligosaccharides of glycoproteins. 

 

Amy Keating
Massachusetts Institute
of Technology,
USA

 

Amy E. Keating is Professor of Biology and Biological Engineering at MIT and a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. She joined the MIT faculty in 2002. As an undergraduate, she studied physics at Harvard, and she obtained her PhD in organic chemistry from UCLA, where she studied carbene reactions with Ken Houk and Miguel Garcia-Garibay. Prof. Keating was introduced to protein biochemistry as a postdoctoral fellow with Peter Kim of the Whitehead Institute and Bruce Tidor of MIT, and she has been working to understand how protein sequences and structures encode interaction specificity ever since. Her lab uses computational and experimental methods to measure protein interactions in high throughput, to develop models that predict binding, and to design new proteins and peptides with novel interaction properties. She teaches in the graduate curriculum and is Director of the MIT graduate program in Biology. She is President-Elect of the Protein Society, which she will lead from July 2019 – June 2021. Her trainees have gone on to careers in academia and at pharmaceutical and biotech companies. She is the busy mother of two teens and enjoys family travel, particularly road trips in the American west.

Xiaoguang Lei 
Peking University,
China

 

Prof. Dr. Xiaoguang Lei was born and raised in Beijing, China. He obtained BSc degree in chemistry from Peking University in 2001. He then moved to Boston and conducted his PhD research on natural product synthesis and chemical biology under the supervision of Prof. John. A. Porco at Boston University. He received Ph.D. in 2006, and then conducted his postdoctoral training in bioorganic chemistry with Prof. Samuel J. Danishefsky at Columbia University in New York City. In early 2009, Dr. Lei returned back to China, and started his independent research career as a Principal Investigator and Director of Chemistry Center at the National Institute of Biological Sciences (NIBS) in Beijing. In early 2014, he received a tenured full professorship from Peking University, and moved his research group to the College of Chemistry at Peking University. He also joined the Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences as a senior PI. The major research areas of Prof. Lei's laboratory are: natural product total synthesis, chemical biology and drug discovery. He has accomplished many total syntheses of the structurally complex and bioactive natural products and systematically used small molecule probes including natural products to dissect the fundamental cellular processes such as apoptosis and programmed necrosis (necroptosis), and illuminated a number of new molecular mechanisms. He has also developed many first-in-class drug candidates for the treatment of cancers and infectious diseases. Prof. Lei has received many academic awards including: the 2018 David Ginsburg Lectureship Award, the 2018 CCS-BASF Young Investigator Award, the 2017 Tetrahedron Young Investigator Award in Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, the 2017 Swiss Chemical Society Lectureship Award, the 2015 Chemical Society of Japan Lectureship Award, the 2014 Roche Young Investigator Award, the 2013 International Chemical Biology Society (ICBS) Young Chemical Biologist Award, the 2013 Servier Young Investigator Award, the 2013 Thieme Chemistry Journal Award, and the 2010 IUPAC Young Chemist Award. He is an Editor for Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry.

Yan-Mei Li
Tsinghua University,
China

 

Professor Yan-Mei Li graduated from the Department of Chemistry, Tsinghua University of China in 1987, then received her master and Ph.D degree in the same Department of Tsinghua University in 1989 and 1992, respectively. She is Chief Scientist of a major State Basic Research Development Program of China (973 program) and an Awardee of the National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, China. She is now the associate editor of J Org Chem. Her research interests are focused on the synthesis of peptides and peptide-conjugates that have bioactivity, the studies related to posttranslational modification of proteins. Recent research interest also focuses on the chemical synthetic vaccines and immunostimulants.

Norman Metanis 
Hebrew University,
Israel

 

Dr. Norman Metanis earned his B.A. in Chemistry in 2000 (Cum Laude) from the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel. After one year as a visiting student at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), La Jolla, he returned to the Technion and completed his M.A. degree in 2004 (Cum Laude) before completing his Ph.D. at TSRI in 2008 under the supervision of Prof. Ehud Keinan and Prof. Philip Dawson, He next joined Prof. Donald Hilvert’s group at ETH Zurich as a postdoctoral research associate.
Dr. Metanis was appointed Assistant Professor in 2013 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2018 in the Institute of Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has received many awards including: The Ma’of Fellowship for Outstanding Arab Lecturer (2013-2016), being named a “Thieme Chemistry Journal Awardee” (2017), and being selected as outstanding teacher for "Organic Chemistry for Medical Students" (2017). In 2018 he recieved the European Peptide Society Miklós Bondanszky Award, and was elected as the National Representative of the EPS.
A major focus of the Dr. Metanis’s work is elucidating the function of human selenoproteins, proteins that contain the twenty-first encoded amino acid selenocysteine, which is normally found in the active site. This family of proteins is poorly studied since it is quite challenging to prepare them in sufficient quantities using biological methods. Along these lines, the Metanis group has recently made significant progress in selenocysteine chemistry, and discovered methods were applied successfully for the chemical synthesis of two human selenoproteins. These syntheses should allow full characterization of this family of proteins in the future.

Les Miranda  
Amgen,
USA

 

Les Miranda is Executive Director Research in Therapeutic Discovery at Amgen, Inc.  He obtained his Ph.D. in peptide and protein chemistry from the University of Queensland, Australia.  Les held a research position at the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen, Denmark, and then served as an Associate Director at Gryphon Therapeutics in South San Francisco, USA where he contributed to the development of methods for the total chemical synthesis and medicinal optimization of protein therapeutics for clinical development.  At Amgen, he is responsible for hybrid modality engineering (peptide, protein, antibody, & RNA modalities), structural biology (X-ray crystallography & cryo-EM), and molecular modeling.  These functions support numerous preclinical and early development programs across Amgen’s cardiometabolic, neuroscience, inflammation, and oncology therapeutic areas.  Les has led multiple cross-functional teams through various stages of drug discovery and development.  During his career, Les has authored more than 60+ original peer reviewed publications and contributed to more than 20 published/issued patents.

Gottffired Otting  
Australian National University,
Australia

 

Gottfried Otting is an NMR spectroscopist, who is developing techniques for structure investigations of small proteins and peptides in solution. In particular, he is exploiting the paramagnetic effects of lanthanide and transition metal ions to obtain long-range structural information, which allows characterization of ligand binding modes and conformational flexibility. He completed his PhD at ETH Zurich in Switzerland 1987 under Nobel Laureate Kurt Wuthrich. After academic positions at ETH he joined the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden, as full professor. In 2002 he relocated to the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, where he has held a professorial position since. Gottfried Otting has received many prices and distinctions, including the Wallmarkska Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Medal of the Australian and New Zealand Society for Magnetic Resonance, and prestigious Australian Research Council Federation and Laureate Fellowships.

Jaclyn Pearson
Hudson Institute of
Medical Research,
Australia

 

Dr Jaclyn Pearson completed her PhD in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the University of Melbourne in 2013. Her thesis on disease mechanisms of pathogenic E. coli was awarded the Chancellor’s Prize and Dean’s Award for Excellence. In 2014, Jaclyn was awarded an NHMRC Peter Doherty Early Career Research Fellowship and in 2019, received further funding as an NHMRC Career Development Fellow.
Jaclyn has been the recipient of numerous awards including the L’Oréal for Women in Science Fellowship (2017), the inaugural Australian Society for Microbiology’s Jim Pittard Early Career Researcher Award (2016), the Victorian Premier’s Award for Health and Medical Research for which she was the first-ever female recipient (2014), and The Victoria Fellowship (2010). Her work was also shortlisted for the Australian Museum Eureka Prize for Infectious Diseases Research in 2014.
In 2017, Jaclyn was recruited to the Hudson Institute for Medical Research in Melbourne where she is currently head of the Host-Pathogen Interactions Research Group in the Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases. The major focus of Jaclyn’s current research is understanding host cell death and inflammatory responses to infection with bacterial gastrointestinal pathogens including E. coli, Salmonella, and Shigella. She has made numerous discoveries describing novel biochemical post-translational modifications mediated by bacterial virulence factors of these pathogens, and has published in internationally renowned journals such as Nature, Nature Microbiology and PLoS Pathogens. 

Bradley Pentelute
Massachusetts Institute
of Technology,
USA

 

Bradley L. Pentelute is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also an Associate Member, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, an Extramural Member of the MIT Koch Cancer Institute, and Member, Center for Environmental Health Sciences MIT. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology and Chemistry from the University of Southern California, and his M.S and Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Chicago with Prof. Steve Kent.  He was a previously a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr R. John Collier at Harvard Medical School, Microbiology.  

Kevin Pfleger
University of Western
Australia,
Australia

 

Professor Kevin Pfleger is Director of the WA Life Sciences Innovation Hub at The University of Western Australia (UWA) and Head of Molecular Endocrinology and Pharmacology at UWA’s Centre for Medical Research (Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research). His laboratory studies the molecular pharmacology of receptors, particularly those important in kidney disorders, cardiovascular disease, diabetes complications and cancer. He is also Chief Scientific Advisor of ASX-listed Dimerix Limited. Prof Pfleger is Chair of the Executive Committee of Accelerating Australia, serves on the Board of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists (ASCEPT), and is a member of the International Advisory Group of the British Pharmacological Society. He has won numerous awards for his work and service, most recently from ASCEPT for his outstanding contribution and leadership as Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee 2017-2018.

 

Bhavesh Premdjee
Novo Nordisk,
Denmark

 

Bhavesh Premdjee gained his Ph.D from University College London (UCL) under the supervision of Dr Derek Macmillan where he focussed on semi-recombinant methodology and its application in glycoprotein synthesis. He then joined the STAR postdoctoral fellowship programme at Novo Nordisk A/S under the guidance of Dr Kilian Conde-Frieboes and Professor Richard Payne focussing on ligation chemistry towards the chemical synthesis of proteins. In 2016, Bhavesh joined the department of research chemistry as a Senior Scientist at Novo Nordisk A/S in Denmark.

Avril Robertson
University of Queensland,
Australia

 

Professor Avril Robertson is Biotechnology Program Director at the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, University of Queensland. She completed her PhD at the University of St Andrews, Scotland in 1999. Avril pursued an industrial career, and has 10 years experience, in the UK across three companies. She was Senior Scientist/Project leader, Tripos Discovery Research Ltd., where she led contract research projects for small and large pharmaceutical companies and also internal drug discovery programs. She moved to ThermoFisher Scientific scale-up division managing internal and custom work. Most recently she was Preclinical Project Leader and Senior Medicinal Chemist at Cyclacel Ltd. focused on drug discovery and project management.
Avril moved to The University of Queensland, with her family in 2011. The Robertson research group is focused on the translational area of discovery and development of novel therapeutics for inflammation, cancer and fungal/microbial diseases. This includes development of probes and tool compounds to elucidate mode of action or to image for biodistribution/diagnostic purposes. Her collaborative work resulted in founding a new company “Inflazome” in Ireland to progress these novel molecules to the clinic for diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and asthma.

Andrea Robinson
Monash University,
Australia

 

Information coming soon

Martin Schmeing
McGill University,
Canada

 

Martin Schmeing received his B.Sc. from McGill University (1998), before obtaining his M.Sc. and Ph.D. with Dr. Thomas Steitz at Yale University (2002, 2004). He then carried out postdoctoral research with Dr. V. Ramakrishnan at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK (2005-2010).  He was appointed Assistant Professor at the Department of Biochemistry, McGill University in 2010, and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2016. He holds a Canadian Research Chair in Macromolecular Machines and serves as the Director of the Centre for Structural Biology, and Associate Director for the Facility for Electron Microscopy Research. The main focus of his research is on elucidating the structures and functions of nonribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPSs). NRPSs are large microbial enzymes that synthesize their products through amide bond formation between building block monomers (most commonly amino acids). The chemical and biological properties of these compounds often make them useful to society as therapeutics (antibiotics, antivirals, anti-tumours, and immunosuppressants) and as natural green chemicals (emulsifiers, siderophores, and research tools). Two aspects of particular focus in Dr. Schmeing’s research are the catalytic event which links substrate building blocks, and the manner in which NRPS domains and modules work together in a complicated and productive catalytic cycle. His work has been recognized with honours including the Young Investigator Award from Canadian Society for Molecular Biosciences, Joe Doupe Award from the Canadian Society for Clinical Investigation, Bhagirath Singh Early Career Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and a Career Development Award from the Human Frontier Science Program Organization.

Joel Schneider
National Cancer
Institute,
USA

 

Joel Schneider is Deputy Director of the Center for Cancer Research (CCR) and Chief of the NCI’s Chemical Biology Laboratory.  He also served as Editor-in-Chief and is now Executive Editor of Peptide Science, the official journal of the American Peptide Society.  His research develops injectable hydrogel materials, bioadhesives, and cellular delivery vehicles capable of delivering therapeutics locally to tissue. He is particularly interested in peptide and protein-based hydrogel materials formed by self-assembly mechanisms.

Patrick Sexton
Monash University,
Australia

 

Professor Sexton is a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow, and Professor of Pharmacology at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences within Monash University. He is an internationally recognised leader in the study of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), biased agonism, on allosteric interactions between GPCRs and other proteins, and GPCR small molecule ligands. He has particular expertise in the study of GPCR structure-function, biased agonism and the structure-function of Class B GPCRs. He is a current Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researcher (Pharmacology and Toxicology). He has authored over 300 publications: including over 200 original research articles. Prof. Sexton has received numerous national and international awards including the ASCEPT Lecturer award (Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists), Endocrine Society of Australia Senior Plenary award, Vane Medal (British Pharmacological Society), and the GSK award for Research Excellence. Prof. Sexton is an adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy of Fudan University in Shanghai, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for the Chinese National Centre for Drug Screening, an elected Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society (BPS) and Chair of the International Advisory Group of the BPS. He is also a corresponding member of the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology Committee on Receptor Nomenclature and Drug Classification, a member of the Faculty of 1000 (Molecular Pharmacology division), and formerly an Associate Editor for Pharmacological Reviews. He is currently Editor-in-Chief for ACS Pharmacology and Translational Science.

Craig Smith
Deakin University,
Australia

 

Dr Craig Smith is Head of the Neuroscience of Stress and Mental Health laboratory, and Lecturer in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, at the School of Medicine, Deakin University, Geelong. His research focuses on the relaxin-3 and opioid neuropeptide systems, and uses a range of pre-clinical anatomical and behavioural approaches to investigate their influence on stress-related behaviours, motivation, feeding, reward, and salt consumption.

Ved Srivastava
Intarcia Therapeutics,
USA

 

Dr. Ved Srivastava is Vice President of Peptide Chemistry at Intarcia Therapeutics. Prior to that, he was the Head of Peptide Chemistry at GlaxoSmithKline, USA; and in the leadership role with Amylin Pharmaceuticals, USA. Vedis a Bioentrepreneur and he is President-Elect of the American Peptide Society. Ved has significantly participated in the development and commercialization of SymlinTM, ByettaTM, and BydeureonTM, first-in-class medicines for the treatment of diabetes. He is the Editor of three books: Peptide-based Drug Discovery, Comprehensive Medicinal Chemistry III - Biologics Medicine (Vol 6) and ‘Peptide 2015’. He earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Lucknow, India.

Martin Stone
Monash University,
Australia

 

Associate Professor Martin Stone is a researcher and teacher in the Monash University Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the Monash Biomedicine Discovery Institute. He received his BSc and MSc (Hons) degrees from the University of Auckland (New Zealand) and his PhD from the University of Cambridge (UK). He was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Scripps Research Institute in (San Diego, USA) and a faculty member at Indiana University (Bloomington, USA) before moving to Monash in 2007. From 2013-2016 he served as Director of the Graduate Program in Biomedical Science at Monash.
Martin’s research program focuses on mechanisms of regulation of chemokines and their receptors, which play critical roles in directing the migration of leukocytes in inflammatory responses. Recently, his lab has made important contributions to understanding the structural basis by which chemokines can differentially activate a shared receptor to elicit distinct cellular outcomes and in characterising a new family of tick proteins (evasins) that suppress host inflammation by inhibiting chemokines.

 

Meritxell Teixidó
IRB,
Spain

 

Dr. Teixidó’s major interests are in the field of peptide synthesis and the discovery of peptide shuttles able to reach the brain and increase the transport of a wide range of cargoes including drugs, nanoparticles or diagnostic agents. For this she is developing a toolbox of protease resistant BBB-shuttle peptides, mass spectrometry techniques and transport evaluation tools to be used to discover new shuttles that will improve the delivery of cargoes to the brain.
Meritxell Teixidó has published around 50 scientific articles and reviews and she has participated in 7 patents. In 2007 she won the American Peptide Idol first prize at the 20th American Peptide Symposium in Montreal, Canada. Since 2010 she is the national representative in the European Peptide Society Council and Chairperson of the next 36th EPS (European Peptide Symposium) and 12th IPS (International Peptide Symposium) (Barcelona, Sept 2020).
Dr. Teixidó has participated in several research projects founded by different national and international agencies and different patient associations. Together with Ernest Giralt she is principal investigator in the I+D project from MINECO: Peptides as therapeutic agents: modulation of protein-protein interactions and brain delivery. In addition she has participated in various collaborations with industry (Menarini Laboratories, Farmhispania, Pharmamar, Cancer Research Technology, Zyentia Ltd., Janssen, Bioingenium, L’Oreal). More recently and through the initiatives such as Llavor, Producte, MAP-EADA and XXI Fòrum d'Inversió ACCIÓ, she has gain training and expertise in the Biotech Entrepreneur Arena.

David Thal
Monash University,
Australia

 

Dr. David Thal is an ARC DECRA fellow and Head of the Structural Pharmacology group at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences. He received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Texas at Austin (2005), and his Ph.D (2010) from the University of Michigan under the guidance of Dr. John J.G. Tesmer. In 2011, he moved to Australia to begin his post-doctoral research under Arthur Christopoulos and Patrick Sexton to broaden his expertise in GPCR pharmacology and allosteric modulation. His research is primarily aimed at understanding the structure and function of G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) with a particular emphasis on allosteric modulation. His current research focuses on GPCR targets involved in CNS disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Schizophrenia. While much of his current work relies on X-ray crystallography, he looks forward complimenting his research with other biophysical techniques including NMR spectroscopy and Cryo-electron microscopy.

 

Nieng Yan
Princeton University,
USA

 

Dr. Nieng Yan received her B.S. degree from the Department of Biological Sciences & Biotechnology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, in 2000. She then pursued her PhD in the Department of Molecular Biology at Princeton University under the supervision of Prof. Yigong Shi between 2000 and 2004. She was the regional winner of the Young Scientist Award (North America) co-sponsored by Science/AAAS and GE Healthcare in 2005 for her thesis on the structural and mechanistic study of programmed cell death. She continued her postdoctoral training at Princeton University, focusing on the structural characterization of intramembrane proteases. In 2007, she joined the faculty of School of Medicine, Tsinghua University. Her lab has been mainly focusing on the structural and functional study of membrane transport proteins exemplified by the glucose transporters and Nav/Cav channels. In 2012 and 2013, she was promoted to tenured professor and Bayer Endowed Chair Professor, respectively. She returned to Princeton University as the founding Shirley M. Tilghman Professor of Molecular Biology in 2017. Dr. Yan was an HHMI international early career scientist in 2012-2017, Cheung Kong Scholar, the recipient of the 2015 Protein Society Young Investigator Award and the 2015 Beverley & Raymond Sackler International Prize in Biophysics, and the Alexander M. Cruickshank lecturer at the GRC on membrane transport proteins in 2016.

Qi Zhang
Fudan University,
China

 

Qi Zhang completed his B.Sc. at Fudan University and Ph.D. at Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry. He undertook postdoctoral work at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign before returning to China where he is currently professor of chemistry at Fudan University.
Dr. Zhang’s research program focuses on the biosynthesis and mode of actions of several classes of antimicrobial compounds, such as aminoglycosides, lipopeptides, and ribosomally synthesized and posttranslationally modified peptides (RiPPs). We aim to reveal in detail their biosynthetic chemistries, to discover novel bioactive compounds by genome mining and by bioengineering efforts, and to decipher their modes of action and resistant mechanisms. Another research interest in the Zhang lab is the radical S-adenosylmethionine superfamily enzymes. We strive to understand their biological functions and mechanisms, and to manipulate these enzymes to achieve novel catalytic activities.