July 24, 2012

CBC Tech Day 2012 – Knowledge at work

CBC Tech Day: Small Molecule Discovery in Academia took place on Monday, July 9, 2012, at Prentice Women’s Hospital Conference Center in downtown Chicago. Close to 170 people learned about the practical steps of using high-throughput screening (HTS) to identify biologically-active molecules. The meeting included panel discussions and posters describing the cutting-edge technology, knowledgeable staff, and extensive small molecule libraries that are available at Northwestern’s High Throughput Analysis (HTA) Lab, UChicago’s Cellular Screening Center (CSC) and UIC’s new High Throughput Screening (HTS) facility.

Tech Day started off with success stories from Rick Silverman (NU) and Michael Johnson (UIC). Rick described his group’s current research on the development of antagonists for specific voltage-gated calcium channels in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. Mike’s talk focused on the development of new antibiotics that target a novel enoyl reductase (FabI), a key enzyme in the bacterial fatty acid biosynthesis pathway. In the combined lunch and poster session, twenty posters were presented by students, post doctoral fellows, faculty and members of the core screening facilities located at each CBC school. The facility posters showcased different projects that were either completed or on-going and described the technology and instrumentation at each facility. Numerous posters highlighted exciting biomedical discoveries that had been made with small molecule discovery technologies.

The afternoon panel discussions were filled with "nuts and bolts" information on high-throughput screening facilities, screening assay development, available libraries and the different approaches for optimizing hits after a high-throughput screening. The final panel of the day included representatives from Abbott, Baxter, and Takeda, who discussed how to translate discoveries from an academic setting to advanced development in pharmaceutical companies. The inclusion of corporate scientists created an opportunity to bridge the gap between academia and industry and to promote the development of the biomedical industry in the Chicago area. The day ended with a networking reception, allowing attendees to discuss both current and potential projects with Chicago-based small molecule experts.

Small molecule screening is becoming an increasingly important tool in biology and is a key step in identifying new drug candidates. CBC Tech Day 2012 has set the stage for new collaborations as scientists discover available resources and methods to enhance and improve their research. Tech Day conversations inspired the CBC to launch a new Small Molecule Discovery resources webpage that summarizes the information provided at the July 9th meeting and provides direct links to screening facilities, libraries and other small molecule discovery-related resources in Chicago. Please bookmark the page and visit often, as we’ll strive to keep the information up-to-date.

PHOTOS: Silverman and Johnson taking questions at the CBC Tech Day 2012 (left). CBC Tech Day 2012 poster session. (Photos: CBC)