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Summit Convenes UArizona Health Sciences and Industry Leaders to Spark New Medical Advances

The third annual Drug Discovery and Development Summit aims to foster private-public collaboration and commercialization of new discoveries against diseases most burdensome to Arizonans.
Summit showcases interdisciplinary collaborations and future potential groundbreaking therapies.

Summit Convenes UArizona Health Sciences and Industry Leaders to Spark New Medical Advances

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Arizona Center for Drug Discovery at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and the UArizona Cancer Center will host the third annual “Discovering New Medicines in Arizona: Drug Discovery & Development Summit” on Tuesday, Oct. 5, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

Summit showcases interdisciplinary collaborations and future potential groundbreaking therapies.“Drug discovery is a strength at the University of Arizona Health Sciences. This summit showcases what we are capable of accomplishing across interdisciplinary units, and which could potentially translate into future groundbreaking therapies through our connections with industry partners,” said Rick G. Schnellmann, PhD, endowed dean of the UArizona College of Pharmacy and the Howard J. Schaeffer Endowed Chair in Pharmaceutical Sciences.

The summit will explore promising avenues to discovering new drug candidates against diseases prevalent in Arizona. The format is designed to encourage collaborations to enable successful translation of scientific breakthroughs to the bedside. 

“The cancer center is privileged to have wonderful collaborators in the College of Pharmacy and Center for Drug Discovery,” said Joann Sweasy, PhD, the Nancy C. and Craig M. Berge Endowed Chair and UArizona Cancer Center director. “We look forward to the summit and nurturing further collaborations to advance drug discovery research that benefits our patients.” 

The morning sessions include:

  • Multiple Myeloma as a template disease for leveraging the immune system to attack plasma cells that ravage the body.
  • Targeting the protein response to treat heart disease.
  • Creating molecular snapshots of biomolecules “in action” using serial femtosecond crystallography, opening new avenues for drug discovery against infectious diseases and cancer.
  • Advanced approaches to computer-aided drug design, such as physics-based computer simulations and artificial intelligence.

The afternoon sessions include: 

  • Approaches to identifying novel treatment strategies for T-cell lymphomas resistant to histone deacetylase inhibitors. 
  • Drawing upon basic science of the T-cell receptor machinery to engineer biomimetic 5-module chimeric antigen receptors that enable cytotoxic T cells to target and kill pathogenic T cells. 
  • An innovative multitier, targeted screening strategy to identify inhibitors against the transcription factor NRF2, with the goal of making cancer cells more susceptible to chemotherapeutic drugs. 

Confirmed speakers include: 

  • Joseph Mikhael, MD, professor, Applied Cancer Research and Drug Discovery Division, Translational Genomics Research Institute, and Chief Medical Officer, International Myeloma Foundation 
  • Chris Glembotski, PhD, associate dean of research, director of the Translational Cardiovascular Research Center, professor of internal medicine, UArizona College of Medicine – Phoenix
  • Petra Fromme, PhD, director, Biodesign Center for Applied Structural Discovery, Arizona State University
  • Anil Nair, PhD, vice president, In Silico Drug Discovery, Ligand Pharmaceuticals
  • Steffan Nawrocki, PhD, associate professor of medicine, UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson, and research director for translational medical oncology, UArizona Cancer Center
  • Michael Kuhns, PhD, associate professor of immunobiology, UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson
  • Donna Zhang, PhD, Musil Family Endowed Chair in Drug Discovery and professor of pharmacology and toxicology, UArizona College of Pharmacy

Registration is required. To register and view the full agenda, visit the “Discovering New Medicines” event website.