Meeting Theme: Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery


The sessions in the "Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery" 2011 annual meeting theme will cover chemical methods to tackle complex problems in biology, advances in the application of peptides as drugs and biological probes, high-throughput methods used in drug discovery and the application of chemical perspectives to the study of disease states. The meeting will be held April 9-13, 2011, in Washington, D.C. (Titled "The Intersection of Chemistry and Biology: Drugs, Disease and Tools for Discovery" in print version.)


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Tamara L. Hendrickson Shana O. Kelley

The annual American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology meeting theme “Chemical Biology and Drug Design” will showcase cutting-edge research in areas where chemistry and biology intersect. In four sessions, the molecular mechanisms of disease, the newest approaches to drug discovery for disease treatment and exciting developments in the generation of tools that may shed further light on disease and drug discovery will be highlighted in presentations delivered by leaders in the field.

Tackling Complex Problems in Biology

Each of the speakers in the first session, titled “The Chemical Biologist’s Toolbox,” are applying sophisticated and elegant chemical methods to tackle complex problems in biology.

Christopher J. Chang (University of California, Berkeley) will present his group’s work on the use of cell-permeable fluorescent chemosensors to track reactive oxygen species inside cells in response to environmental triggers, finally providing a means to track radicals in situ. Orthogonal probes also can be used simultaneously to observe the generation of different ROS (e.g. H2O2 and HOCl), allowing the interplay of oxidants to be studied.

Sarah Trimpin (Wayne State University) will discuss how her group merges the capabilities of laser and electrospray ionization methods for solvent-free mass spectrometric analyses of tissue samples to allow the study of site-specific physiological processes at the molecular level.

And, finally, Michael L. Gross (Washington University) will present recent progress on the development of mass spectrometric methods to characterize protein complexes and deconvolve the intricate patterns of interactions that guide biological function.

Each of these presentations will highlight promising new tools that will drive the discovery of new phenomena in biological systems.

Chemical Biology and Drug Discovery

Session: The Chemical Biologist’s Toolbox
Molecular Imaging Approaches to Understanding Chemistry in the Brain, Christopher J. Chang, University of California, Berkeley

Laserspray Ionization— A New Method for Protein Analysis Directly from Tissue at Atmospheric Pressure with Ultra-High Mass Resolution and Electron Transfer Dissociation Sequencing, Sarah Trimpin, Wayne State University

Mass Spectrometry and Structural Proteomics: Mapping Proteins with H/D Exchange and OH Radical Reactions, Michael L. Gross, Washington University

Session: Peptide-based Drug Delivery, Drug Discovery and Biomaterials
Cell-permeable Miniature Proteins, Alanna Schepartz, Yale University

Systemic Toxicities of the Host Defense Peptides of the Innate Immune System, Annelise Barron, Stanford University

Mitochondrial Drug Delivery Using Peptide Carriers, Shana O. Kelley, University of Toronto

Session: Novel Approaches to
High-Throughput Drug Discovery
Screening Technologies for Unusual and Challenging Targets, Michelle Arkin, University of California, San Francisco

Completing the Screen: Biochemical Cascades to Prioritize HTS Output, Grant K. Walkup, AstraZeneca R&D Boston

RNA-regulatory Machines and Development of New Therapeutics, Tariq M. Rana, Sanford-Burnham Medical
Research Institute

Session: The Chemical Biology of Human Disease
The Role of GPI Transamidase Noncatalytic Subunits in Tumorigenesis, Tamara L. Hendrickson, Wayne State University

Using Synthetic GPI Glycans to Explore the Mechanism of Malaria Infection and Create an Antitoxin Vaccine, Peter H. Seeberger, Max Planck Institute

Adapting Proteostasis to Ameliorate Loss- and Gain-of-function Misfolding Diseases, Jeffrey W. Kelly, The Scripps Research Institute

Peptide Applications

In the second session, “Peptide-based Drug Delivery, Discovery and Biomaterials,” a variety of recent advances in the application of peptides as potential drugs and biological probes will be presented.

Alanna Schepartz (Yale University) will present her group’s recent discoveries using miniature proteins. Schepartz has reported exciting results highlighting the interplay of cell permeability and efficacy of peptide-based drugs in human cells.

Annelise Barron (Stanford University) will discuss recent progress on the use of peptide mimics for a variety of interesting applications, including the study of the systemic toxicities of host defense peptides in the innate immune system. In her work, the ability to synthetically control peptide structure with extreme precision is important to imparting activities not attainable with natural sequences.

And, lastly, Shana O. Kelley (University of Toronto) will explain her group’s work on engineering mitochondrial specificity into cell-permeable peptides, a trait that enables peptide-based probes and drugs to access a different set of targets. These peptides allow site-specific chemistry to be studied within cells, facilitating interesting comparisons between similar processes in different cellular compartments.

High-throughput Methods

The third session, “Novel Approaches to High-throughput Drug Discovery,” looks at the diverse array of high-throughput methods that currently are being applied to drug discovery and the understanding of disease progression.

Michelle Arkin (University of California, San Francisco) will provide an overview of the activities of the Small Molecule Discovery Center at UCSF, where high-throughput screening of small molecules that modulate biochemical or cellular processes is generating interesting leads on novel drug targets and drugs.

Grant K. Walkup (AstraZeneca R&D Boston) will present a new twist on high-throughput screening in which biochemical cascades are used to prioritize isolated hits.

Finally, Tariq M. Rana (Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute) will discuss RNA regulatory machines and the interesting results obtained when evaluating these entities as drug targets.

Disease State Applications

The last session, titled “The Chemical Biology of Human Disease,” will look at the application of chemical perspectives to the study of disease states.

The first two speakers both will look at the biological role of glycosylphosphatidylinositol anchors. Tamara L. Hendrickson (Wayne State University) will present her work on GPI transamidase, a multisubunit, membrane-bound enzyme. The only subunit of this enzyme that is not directly implicated in tumorigenesis is its active site. Peter H. Seeberger (Max Planck Institute) will discuss important advances in using GPI anchors as targets for malaria vaccine development.

Click here for more 2011 annual meeting thematic overviews.

For information on  annual meeting registration, housing and abstract submission, click here.

And finally, Jeff Kelly (The Scripps Research Institute) will address the modulation of protein homeostasis (the combination of protein synthesis, folding and breakdown) as a novel approach to treat both loss- and gain-of-function misfolding diseases.

In addition to the invited speakers whose works are highlighted above, 12 short talks will be selected from abstract submissions.

Tamara L. Hendrickson ( is an associate professor in the department of chemistry at Wayne State University.Shana O. Kelley ( is a professor and the director of the division of biomolecular sciences and a faculty of pharmacy, medicine, and biochemistry at the University of Toronto.