Campus News

CDD will convene its first drug discovery conference April 4

The Center for Drug Discovery is sponsoring its inaugural UGA Conference on Drug Discovery April 4 at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel. The daylong event will feature three internationally renowned scientists in the antiviral, anticancer and antimicrobial areas as keynote speakers. Registration is free and the conference is open to everyone in the scientific community interested in developments in this field.

“The CDD is committed to its mission to fulfill a critical national and international need for the discovery and development of new chemical and biological entities for combating a variety of existing and emerging life-threatening diseases,” said Vasu Nair, director of the center and a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Drug Discovery in the College of Pharmacy.

CDD is specifically interested in infectious viruses such as HIV, HBV, HCV, avian influenza viruses, emerging DNA and RNA viruses and infectious microbial agents, such as antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis. Other therapeutic areas of interest include cancer, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease.

“The CDD contributes not only to the research and teaching mission and increased national stature of UGA, but also enhances research connections between UGA and other research institutions, government agencies and pharmaceutical companies at the regional, national and international levels,” Nair said.

Keynote speakers are Alice M. Clark, vice chancellor for research and sponsored programs at the University of Mississippi; Clifton E. Barry III, head of the Tuberculosis Research Station, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Stephen Fesik, divisional vice president of cancer research, Abbott Laboratories.

Clark will speak on “The Evolution of Antimicrobial Drug Discovery and Development.” She oversees the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, which is responsible for facilitating and coordinating the acquisition and administration of fiscal resources and the development of infrastructure for conducting research and scholarly activities. In this capacity, Clark is the university’s chief liaison with federal agencies and congressional offices.

The title of Barry’s address is “Challenges and Opportunities in Tuberculosis Drug Discovery.”  His research is a multidisciplinary mixture of chemistry, biology and clinical science, focused on understanding the scientific principles underlying TB chemotherapy. His group has contributed to the development of two recent anti-tuberculosis drugs about to enter clinical trails, SQ-109 and PA-824.

Fesik will talk about “Discovery of Bcl-2 Family Inhibitors for the Treatment of Cancer.”  At Abbott, Fesik leads a group responsible for discovering new drugs to treat cancer.

He also developed several new NMR methods and determined the three-dimensional structures of several proteins and protein/ligand complexes.

A poster session will be held the afternoon of the conference, with awards going to the best graduate student and postdoctoral fellow posters.