Inaugrual UGA Conference on Drug Discovery to be held April 4

Inaugural UGA Conference on Drug Discovery to be held April 4

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Center for Drug Discovery (CDD) is sponsoring its inaugural UGA Conference on Drug Discovery on April 4, at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education. This 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,” added Nair.

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.” Clark 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. She is a member the Mississippi Research Consortium and a councilor of the Oak Ridge Associated Universities. She also serves on the board of trustees of the Southern Universities Research Association and the board of directors for the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium.

Barry will address the “Challenges and opportunities in tuberculosis drug discovery.” Barry’s 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. He oversees basic and clinical research in Nigeria and South Korea and is committed to developing medicines that address real needs in the developing world.

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. In addition to these structural studies, he developed a method for drug discovery called SAR by NMR and applied this method to identify and optimize ligands for binding to many protein drug targets. His current research interests involve the use of siRNA for target identification and target validation.

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

For registration information and downloadable abstract submission forms, see www.uga.edu/cdd.