October 17, 2011

Brain Science Institute hosts conference to explore new drug paradigm

More than 500 academic researchers, pharma reps and investors expected

A symposium hosted by the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute on Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Baltimore Convention Center will bring together the pharmaceutical industry and academic-based research institutions with the common goal of exploring how the two can best work together to enhance and facilitate the discovery of new drugs.

Although pharmaceutical companies and new university-based drug discovery centers have increasingly begun teaming up to pool resources and expertise, the book on best practices for this evolving area is still being written, says Barbara Slusher, head of the BSi Drug Discovery Program and an associate professor of neurology and psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

“While one-on-one partnerships between universities and the pharmaceutical industry have become more common in recent years, there is less opportunity for these groups to come together and share knowledge and best practices on a broader scale,” she said.

That’s what prompted the BSi to organize its symposium, called Drug Discovery in Academia. The event will provide an opportunity for more than 500 academic researchers, pharmaceutical industry representatives and investors to discuss the challenges and successes of drug discovery today.

The keynote speech, “Academic Translational Centers: A New Paradigm for Early Stage Drug Discovery,” will be delivered by Steven Paul, director of the Appel Alzheimer’s Disease Research Institute and professor of neurology and psychiatry at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. As a former vice president of science and technology and president of Lilly Research Labs, Paul brings perspective from both sides of the changing drug discovery landscape.

Other academic presenters will include the heads of drug discovery centers at the University of California, San Francisco; Harvard University; Johns Hopkins; the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and Vanderbilt University.

From an industry perspective, Merck, Eisai, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer are slated to make presentations. Representatives of drug discovery center funders such as the National Institutes of Health, Maryland Biotechnology Center, New Enterprise Associates, Cure Huntington Disease Initiative and Osage University Partners will also speak.

A panel discussion and networking will round out the day.

Fees are waived for Johns Hopkins faculty, staff and students.

To register, and for more information, go to brainscienceinstitute.org and click on “Drug Discovery in America.”