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SLAS2018 Scientific Podium Program

Podium presentations at SLAS2018 are organized into ten educational tracks. Track and session titles and descriptions and names of track chairs and session chairs follow below.

The Scientific Program Committee selects speakers based on the innovation, relevance and applicability of research. If your proposed topic does not squarely fit into the focus of one of these tracks, please submit it for committee consideration regardless. The committee members use their judgment and experience to select presentations that best address the interests and priorities of today's life sciences discovery and technology community.

Podium abstracts will be assessed in late summer and the podium program will be finalized and published by early October.

Advances in Bioanalytics and Biomarkers Track

Track Chair(s): Melanie Leveridge, GlaxoSmithKline and Shaun McLoughlin, Abbvie

The qualitative and quantitative characterization of endogenous and exogenous analytes in biological systems are the basis of drug discovery and development. This track will highlight important developments in bioanalytical technologies, including advances in label free technologies, applications of target and mechanism deconvolution techniques, and omics approaches to biomarker analysis. Planned sessions include:


  • Session Chair: Andreas Luippold, Boehringer Ingelheim

    Label-free bioanalytical techniques are an attractive alternative to conventional labelled detection technologies because, by definition, they do not require the use of reporter elements to facilitate measurement. They therefore offer rapid assay development, high sensitivity, and direct detection of analyte binding to target molecules. This session will focus on the recent advancements and application of such techniques to the drug discovery process, including, but not limited to, mass spectrometry and optical biosensors.


  • Session Chair: Christina Rau, Cellzome, GSK

    The individual Omics sciences, genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics, are a powerful tool for expanding our knowledge of the complexity of human diseases and for delivering mechanistic and predictive insights informing drug discovery processes. Biomarker research is taking advantage of recent advances in chromatography, mass spectrometry and bioinformatics leading to a transformation in the Omics landscape. This session will focus on opportunities, challenges and recent technological advancements.


  • Session Chair: Shaun McLoughlin , Abbvie

    Phenotypic screening has emerged as a complimentary workflow enabling the identification of progression of unique targets into early discovery therapeutic pipelines. The promise of these screens is tempered by challenges involving hit selection and prioritization as well as in target identification and validation. This session will focus on technological advances addressing these issues.

Assay Development and Screening Track

Track Chair(s): Edward Ainscow, Carrick Therapeutics and Ralph Garripa, MSKCC

The continued development of novel and more physiologically relevant assay technologies combined with evolving strategies for compound, RNAi and CRISPR library screening seek to broaden both the scope of target classes that can be addressed and to improve HTS success rates. This track will focus on recent innovations across the field including the application of new instrumentation, hardware, and novel assay technologies to compound and genomic screening. The emphasis will be on case histories where the technology has been developed and implemented in an HTS campaign and the triage process to confirm hits will be described. Planned sessions include:


  • Session Chair: Gianluca Pegoraro, NIH

    Non-target based approaches to drug discovery taking advantage of fast and high throughput 3D imaging, super resolution microscopy, or innovative single cell high content analysis workflows.


  • Session Chair: Keith Olsen, Corning

    Case studies in using innovative screening methods for target driven discovery for non-classical drug targets, including protein-protein interactions, nucleic acids and undruggable targets.


  • Session Chair: Deb Nguyen, Cellular Approaches

    How complex in vitro culture systems including co-cultures, iPS and 3D organotypic models are being used in conjunction with tools such as CRISPR gene editing in the next wave of phenotypic screens. This can encompass novel target discovery, complex co-culture models of neural, skeletal or inflammation systems, and organ models for drug metabolism and toxicity prediction.


  • Session Chair: Fred King, GNF

    Assays that involve complex biological systems or combinations of compounds typically are capable of interrogating only a limited number of samples relative to the potential chemical space. Therefore, the screen design often incorporates compound libraries of a particular focus such as kinase inhibitors or "MoA boxes," where the mechanism of action of each compounds is known. This session will focus on the design, use in screening, and results obtained with such compound/biologic collections.


  • Session Chair: Ann Hoffman, GlaxoSmithKline

    Getting away from 2D on plastic, what approches are being used in drug discovery for 3D and 4D assays?


  • Session Chair: David Piper, Life Technologies

    How is the power of NGS and other genomic platforms being leveraged in HTS. This could be looking at single cell RNA-Seq, cellular barcoding, native gene expression in cells or using DNA encoded libraries.

Automation and High-Throughput Technologies Track

Track Chair(s): Taosheng Chen, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Louis Scampavia, Scripps

This track focuses on the innovative use of biological or chemistry applications, tools, technologies, and techniques as they pertain to automated high throughput screening, the advancement of laboratory processes or improvement of the quality and impact of experimental laboratory data. Emphasis is placed on advancements in chemically and biologically relevant technologies using engineering, analytical, informatics, and application to cutting edge automation-assisted research. Planned sessions include:


  • Session Chair: Sam Michael, NIH/NCATS

    This session will focus on the design of automated processes that are made possible by coupling automated components together to realize an entire automated workflow. Topics to include data management, increasing throughput, high level software control and the logisitics of pairing automated systems together.


  • Session Chair: Franck Madoux, Amgen

    Approaches using fully automated platform to close the gap on fully automated high content Ultra high throughput screening. Combining microfluidic cell based screening approaches to get one step closer to closed loop automated screening.


  • Session Chair: Shane Horman, GNF

    Leveraging the power of HTS to perform fully automated phenotypic assays, orthogonal target based assays, 3D spheroid systems, etc.


  • Session Chair: Haian Fu, Emory University

    This session will focus on using physiologically-relevant models (e.g., patient-derived organoids, co-cultures, etc.) for screens (genetic or chemical), which might be challenging to be automated. The emphasis will be on the content but not the throughput of the assay.


  • Session Chair: Jason Matzen, GNF

    High throughput automation is formulated as a sum of its sub-components and screening strategies, and has been routinely used to screen large number of small molecules. This session will focus on how emerging technologies and novel screening strategies can be implemented to both empower, redirect and adapt automation to meet new demands/needs for high throughput technologies, including toward more assays vs. more compounds; applications for fragment-based screens, gene expression, and sample preparations.


  • Session Chair: Louis Scampavia, Scripps

    This session will focus on in-house designed and developed automation to support internal laboratory processes. Emphasis on home grown technology and not vendor supplied or commercially available platforms.

Biologics Discovery Track

Track Chairs: Daniel Sipes, GNF and Rob Howes, AstraZeneca

The success of biologic therapeutics in the clinic has put greater emphasis on earlier stage efforts to increase efficiency, productivity and innovation. This track will emphasize innovative solutions to increase the breadth, depth and impact of early stage efforts to fuel the biologics pipeline. How automation and screening can play a key role in the progression of new therapeutics as well as the impact of novel assays, microfluidics and biorepositories. Planned sessions include:


  • Session Chair: Rob Howes, AstraZeneca

    Biologics drug discovery (secreted proteins, antibodies, antibody mimetics) with a focus on screening strategies and assay development for biologics. Case studies of biologics drug discovery. Methods to identify the right epitope. Efficacy and affinity screens.


  • Session Chair: Kevin Chapman, Berkeley Lights

    The past 30 years have seen explosive growth in the discovery, development, and clinical utilization of biologics. For a wide variety of important reasons, both therapeutic and economic, biologics have overtaken small molecules in the race for best overall sales. The future is indeed bright for protein and cellular therapeutics as new and highly imaginative approaches to previously intractable indications. This session will focus on new and exciting technologies for the discovery of biologics—both protein and cellular. A strong emphasis will be placed on technical considerations. What are the physics, fluid dynamics, chemistry, biology, and engineering aspects of the technologies? What advantages are provided? How do they accelerate the discovery of the next generation therapeutics? How do the technologies change the future of therapeutic intervention?


  • Session Chair: Andy Zaayenga, SmarterLab

    Utilization of biospecimens for biomarker discovery provides a pathway to personalized medicine as well as facilitates efficient and potentially more rapid / less costly drug development. Biobanks may be population-based or disease-oriented, with a variety of samples such as organ tissue, blood, urine, enzymes, DNA, RNA and cell lines. This session explores the junction of biobanking and drug discovery with researchers involved in exploiting biospecimen-based new candidate identification.

Cellular Technologies Track

Track Chairs: Benjamin Haley, Genentech and Neville Sanjana, New York University

Novel approaches for specific and efficient manipulation of human cells are driving the next revolution in biology, in much the same way that recombinant DNA technology fueled life science research for the past forty years. Methodologies such as RNAi and CRISPR have enabled basic research to determine gene function and identify new drug targets within broad biological contexts at ever increasing speed. Further, precision editing of genes coupled with continued innovation in the understanding and diversity of cell types promises the creation of more relevant models for phenotypic screening. This track will focus on emergent cellular technologies, including the development of gene editing tools, application of these tools to create accurate cellular models, and functional screens used to make sense of the genetic complexity underlying disease and development. Planned sessions include:


  • Session Chair: Prashant Mali, University of California, San Diego

    Nature has provided a wealth of systems that can be repurposed to modify nucleic acids and alter gene expression. This session will focus on cutting-edge tools that have enhanced our ability to dissect genomes, at single cell or whole-genome scales.


  • Session Chair: To be Confirmed

    The outcomes of a phenotypic screen are only as useful as the fidelity of the cellular model. This session will focus on the development of faithful and robust pre-clinical models that can be deployed in screening assays.


  • Session Chair: Neville Sanjana, New York Genome Center, New York University

    The application of genome engineering technologies to cell-based models has enabled rapid, detailed interrogation of gene activity, a critical step in understanding how gene dysfunction leads to disease. This session will highlight advances in functional genomic technologies and provide experimental paradigms for successful genetic screens.

Chemical Biology Track

Track Chairs: Jonathan O'Connell, Forma Therapeutics and Gwenn Hansen, Nurix, Inc.

The Chemical Biology track will focus on the challenges of addressing targets with small molecules including validation of targets using tool molecules and proof of target engagement through appropriate biomarker identification. Additionally, this track will cover advances in library design, keeping libraries current and a session will be dedicated to DNA-encoded libraries. Planned sessions include:


  • Session Chair: Stephen Johnson, Bristol-Meyers Squibb

    Addressing Diversity: (1) Library size, how big do libraries need to be (2) Reviving and updating old libraries: Many libraries grew significantly in the early 2000's and have not evolved since. How is the industry tackling this and is it an issue? (3) Focused chemical libraries, including Macrocycles and covalent compounds (4) Fragment libraries: Size of library, defining fragments, examples of success (5) Mechanisms to confirm hits, biophysical methodologies.


  • Session Chair: Gwenn Hansen, Nurix

    Primary focus will be to describe novel applications of DEL for lead discovery. Secondarily, we will explore more practical aspects of the DEL technology that fall into the category of design, synthesis, affinity selection, data analysis or hit confirmation. A detailed breakdown of these practical topics are as follows: (1) Approaches for BB and scaffold selection, library design, designing for truncates, sp2 vs sp3 bias, library size (2) Aqueous reaction development (3) Selecting and identifying hits: statistical analysis, strategies for hit confirmation, translating on DNA hits to off-DNA leads, Managing the data (4) Approaches for monitoring library reaction success (5) Examples of delivering leads using this technology (6) Optimizing affinity selection: considerations for increasing ligand recovery, covalent capture, biasing target protein confirmation, functional screens.


  • Session Chair: Pete Rahl, Fulcrum Therapeutics

    This session will focus on: (1) Target selection or target ID (2) Methods to validate targets. Strategies for using tool molecules to confirm target rationale and consideration of appropriate models (3) Biomarker identification and associated technologies (4) Activity-based probes (5)Approaches to finding new targets. Risk of well validated targets with lots of competition vs. one published paper targets with high risk of not being able to validate but having first to market opportunity.

Drug Target Strategies Track

Track Chairs: Chun-wa Chung, GlaxoSmithKline and Peter Hodder, Amgen

Drug discovery relies on a deep understanding of the biology underlying disease states and the mechanisms-of-action of active drug leads. This track focuses on emerging strategies for selecting drug-discovery approaches and evaluating drug leads. Planned sessions include:


  • Session Chair: Anthony Orth, GNF

    Target identification and mechanism of action determination are key to understanding how perturbagens elicit cell-based effects and are often central to drug discovery or chemical biology workflows. This session will focus on current methodolgies for compound MoA determination and target identification with an emphasis on methods that can be combined into multi-modal approaches aimed at increasing the likelihood of individual success while providing confirmatory orthogonal data. Special emphasis will be placed on the integration of computational/relational, proteomics, and functional genomics-based methods.


  • Session Chair: David Israel, GlaxoSmithKline

    This session focuses on new target engagement approaches and their successful integration into discovery platforms. Approaches could include: affinity based methods (ASMS, DNA encoded libraries), stability based methods (CETSA, Thermofluor) or in silico predictions.


  • Session Chair: Rusty Lipford, Amgen

    Looking beyond orthosteric inhibition, this session will focus on strategies that exploit atypical modes of action for successful drug discovery. Topics covered may include: targeted proteolysis, protein-protein stabilisation and enzyme activation.

Data Analysis and Informatics Track

Track Chairs: Margaret DiFilippo, Dotmatics and Amy Kallmerten, Merck

Modern life science research laboratories now generate and analyze data from diverse sources. The Internet has changed how science is done and shared. Informatics plays a critical role in the warehousing, analysis, visualization and flow of these data throughout organizations and between collaborators. This track will focus on the role of informatics in supporting the new operational challenges, enabling knowledge and data discovery, facilitating secure collaboration, and improving scientific productivity. Planned sessions include:


  • Session Chair: Nicole Glazer, Merck, Inc.

    Intelligent automation systems sense and synthesize vast amounts of information and streamline decision making processes. Capabilities of aggregating, extracting, and analyzing complex information such as unstructured text. The automated analysis and decision process can be embedded in a workflow that includes humans reviewing and approving machine decisions. Intelligent decision automation (IDA) has vast potential applications: from collecting, analyzing, and making decisions about textual information.


  • Session Chair: Yohann Potier, Novartis

    Life science discovery through complex data analysis. Focus on creativity, visualization and formulating the right question rather than the accumulation of data.


  • Session Chair: Clare Tudge, GlaxoSmithKline

    Computational scientists and bench scientists working together, optimizing resources by doing computations whenever possible.

High Definition Biotechnology Track

Track Chairs: Angela Cacace, Fulcrum Therapeutics and Paul Blainey, The Broad Institute, MIT

This track focuses on the application of microfluidic, optical, and molecular tools in disease biology, diagnostics, screening, and translational medicine. The session will emphasize state-of-the-art quantitative high throughput and high resolution approaches in both simple cellular systems and complex tissues. These approaches enable multiparametric studies that reveal the interplay of genetics, disease and therapeutic opportunities and move personalized medicine ahead. Topics include the latest specialized engineering and assay technologies, including single-cell and sequencing-based approaches, and cutting-edge application and disease areas including immuno-oncology. Planned sessions include:


  • Session Chair: Paul Blainey, The Broad Institute, MIT

    Session will focus on the integration of advances in new microfluidic, optical, molecular tools and human cell modeling for high throughput and high resolution biology. Advances in quantitative single-cell and single-molecule approaches provide new insights into cell regulation at a level of resolution that was not previously demonstrated. By combining the data from these high resolution approaches multiparametric studies are enabled to reveal new targets, pathways and mechanisms.


  • Session Chair: To Be Confirmed

    Impact of high resolution single cell genomic assays enable identification of new targets. The combination of advances in CRISPR gene editing technologies and application of high throughput, high resolution single cell RNAseq methods are playing a key role in the future of target identification as we move toward more specialized medicine therapies. In this session methods to approach novel mechanistic studies in both tumor immunity as well as cancer and other genetically defined disease biologies will be emphasized.


  • Session Chair: To Be Confirmed

    The session will focus on the latest technologies for diagnostic, biomarker assays and clinical endpoints. Advances in proteomic, genomic, cellular and in situ tissue assays not only enable improved throughput but also improved resolution of information collected from micro sampling. This session will also include innovative approaches including devices for tracking and integrating data for clinical diagnostic and biomarker endpoints as this will enable development of high resolution translatable endpoints for human studies.

Micro- and Nanotechnologies Track

Track Chairs: Andrew deMello, Institute for Chemical and Bioengineering and Sammy Datwani, Labcyte

This track broadly encompasses new and emerging technologies including microfluidics, microarrays, microreactors, nanodevices, and nanotechnologies with emphasis on methods and materials applicable to high-throughput chemistry, high-content screening, point-of-care diagnostics, biology and clinical analysis. Planned sessions include:


  • Session Chair: Sammy Datwani, Labcyte

    The commercialization of microfluidic and nanofluidic devices promises new tools for high throughput, high efficiency and integrated biological and chemical experimentation. This session will address important insights and lessons learned from commercializing novel microfluidic and nanofluidic systems in the life science and clinical market. Of particular interest, will be contributions describing integrated systems for cellular analysis, point-of-care use, bio-analytical systems, sample preparation, novel sensors and separation devices. Issues addressing system integration, materials selection, production processes, operational costs, reagent storage and operational lifetime will be of significant interest.


  • Session Chair: Amar Basu, Wayne State University

    This session will focus on the use of droplet-based microfluidics for high-throughput biological experimentation. Multiphase microfluidic systems utilize pL-nL droplets as chemical reactors, and afford precise control over the volume and chemical content of each reaction vessel. Importantly, bespoke droplets may be formed at kHz frequencies and processed downstream using a range of active or passive components. Session topics include but are not limited to: fluid and particle handling in droplets, the physics and modelling of multiphase flow, detection techniques, cell and biomolecular assays, nanomaterial fabrication, and other novel applications of droplets in chemistry and biology. The application of droplet and digital platforms to single cell analysis is a key theme of this session.


  • Session Chair: Olivier Frey, InSphero

    Organ-on-a-chip systems leverage microfluidic technologies to assemble cellular populations in a functionally-relevant manner, performing processes such as cell culture and continuous perfusion. Such systems can be used to simulate the activities, mechanics and physiological response of entire organs and organ systems, and have significant potential to advance the study of tissue development, organ physiology and disease origin. Moreover, organ-on-a-chip technologies have direct application in the field of drug discovery regarding the identification of mechanisms of action and biomarker identification. This session, will showcase novel developments in the broad field of organ-on-a-chip.