Ettore Majorana Foundation and Centre for Scientific Culture
President: Professor Antonino Zichichi
Director: Sir Tom Blundell, FRS FMedSci
The past several years have produced transformations both in the long term management of chronic diseases and in the treatment of illnesses that previously seemed intractable. Nevertheless, understanding and managing human health remains one of the most challenging aspects of our society. One fundamental problem is the lack of a full comprehension of the underlying biology of healthy and diseased states. While structural information is still applied at different stages of the drug design process, especially during drug optimization, the focus has now decisively moved earlier, to providing tools for the understanding of the disease biology. This has resulted in traditional structural biology techniques being thoroughly integrated with other disciplines, including biophysics, informatics, biology and chemistry. Because of the continuously evolving experimental and computational techniques, the success of the entire process depends on proper management of the increasing complexity, diversity and volume of data generated. The purpose of the course is to provide the students with: a) an overview of the current structural and biophysical techniques used in the field; b) the use of informatics tools in drug discovery; c) the evolving role of chemistry in drug design and biology understanding; and d) an introduction to biologics and their applications.
Several case studies will be presented to highlight the different topics. Hands-on workshops and tutorials will complement the lectures.
Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, USA
University of Florence, Florence, IT
Department of Biochemistry at Cambridge, UK
Tom Blundell maintains an active laboratory as Director of Research and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, where he was previously Sir William Dunn Professor and Head of Department between 1996 and 2009, and Chair of School of Biological Sciences between 2003 and 2009. He has previously held teaching and research positions in the Universities of London, Sussex and Oxford.
Tom continues to research on molecular, structural and computational biology of growth factors, receptor activation, signal transduction and DNA repair, important in cancer, tuberculosis and familial diseases. He has also published many widely used software packages for protein modelling and design including Modeller (8560 citations) and Fugue (1150 citations), as well as computer programs to predict the effects of mutations on protein stability and interactions (SDM & mCSM). Recently his group has produced computer programs (mCSM-lig) and databases to predict the affects of mutations on small-molecule binding, relevant to antibiotic resistance. He has published 560 research papers, including 30 in Nature and 20 in past year including two in Science.
Tom has developed new approaches to structure-guided and fragment-based drug discovery. In 1999 he co-founded Astex Therapeutics, an oncology company that has eight drugs in clinical trials and that was sold in 2013 as Astex Pharma to Otsuka for $886 million. In parallel in the University of Cambridge he has developed structure-guided fragment-based approaches to drug discovery for difficult targets involving multiprotein systems and protein-protein interactions for the Met receptor and DNA double-strand break repair Rad51-Brca2 complexes, based on his basic research programmes. He has also been targeting ~10 Mycobacterium tuberculosis proteins as part of the Gates HIT-TB and EU-FP7 MM4TB consortia, including structural and biochemical studies of resistance mutations to first line drugs.
Tom was a member of PM Margaret Thatcher’s Advisory Council on Science & Technology (1988-1990), founding CEO of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, 1991-1996 (Chair 2009-2015), Chairman, Royal Commission on Environment (1998-2005), Deputy Chair of Institute of Cancer Research 2008-2015 and President of UK Science Council since 2011.
Exscientia, Oxford, UK
Heptares, Cambridge, UK
Vernalis, Cambridge, UK
Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, IL
UCSF, San Francisco, CA, USA
Novartis, Basel, CH
Marburg University, Marburg, DE
MSD, Boston, MA, USA
Vertex, Boston, MA, USA
Lonza, Manchester, UK
AstraZeneca, Goeteborg, SE
ETH, Zurich, CH
UCSF, San Francisco, CA, USA
Heidelberg University, Heidelberg, DE
City of Hope, Duarte, CA, USA
Giovanna Scapin graduated Magna cum Laude in 1985 from Padova University (Italy) with a degree in Organic Chemistry. In 1989 she received her PhD in Organic Chemistry from the same university with a thesis in Structural Biology. In February 1990 Giovanna joined the laboratory of Dr. James C. Sacchettini at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx (NY), as postdoctoral fellow, and subsequently as Instructor. Her interest was initially for a class of small fatty acid binding proteins that had been related to obesity and diabetes. Subsequently most of her work was involved in bacterial enzymes that could be used as target for the design of novel antibiotics. During the 6 years Giovanna spent there, she mentored several graduated students and post-doctoral fellows.
In 1997 Giovanna joined Merck and Co., Inc, where she was involved in several drug discovery projects, providing structural biology support for diabetes, inflammation and oncology targets. Her more recent work focused on the diabetes target DPP-4, on novel antimicrobial targets, and on the structure-function of antibodies. After spending 18 month as embedded scientist at the New York Structural Biology Center – Simons Electron Microscopy Center to learn hands-on single particle CryoEM, since the spring of 2018 Giovanna is back full time at Merck, where she established a new cryoEM facility.
Publication list: here
LinkedIn profile: here
Charlotte Deane is Professor of Structural Bioinformatics in the Department of Statistics at the University of Oxford. She did her undergraduate degree at University College, Oxford and received her PhD from the University of Cambridge. She then moved to UCLA on a Wellcome Trust Research Fellowship and took up a group leader position in Oxford in 2002. Since then she has set up and directed an MSc programme as well as two Centres for Doctoral Training. She is currently the director of the Sustainable Approaches to Biomedical Sciences Centre for Doctoral training. This is an open innovation EPSRC/MRC and industry funded centre, with over twenty partner companies.
Charlotte also leads the Oxford Protein Informatics group, a research group of over 20 people working on diverse problems across protein structure, immunoinformatics, interaction networks and small molecule drug discovery. Her work combines both theoretical and empirical analysis with special interests in artificial intelligence. This involves close collaborations with experimentalists in both academia and industry in the design of experiments to leverage the power of computation for biological insight.
Her work focusses on the development of novel algorithms, tools and databases all of which are openly available to the community. Examples include SAbDab, SAbPred, PanDDA and MEMOIR. These tools are widely used web resources (SAbDab alone has over 500 unique users a month) and are also part of several Pharma drug discovery pipelines, including GSK, Roche, Medimmune, Kymab, Iontas, Lonza and UCB.
Frank von Delft is Associate Professor at the University of Oxford, where he heads the Protein Crystallography group of the Structural Genomics Consortium; and Principal Beamline Scientist at Diamond Light Source, head of the I04-1 experimental station and the associated XChem programme for fragment screening. He is also Visiting Professor at the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Johannesburg. After studying biochemistry, chemistry and applied mathematics in Bloemfontein, South Africa, he completed his PhD in crystallography at Cambridge under Tom Blundell, followed by postdoctoral work in high-throughput crystallography at the JCSG in San Diego at the Scripps Institute, as well as Syrrx, Inc.
As structural biologist, he is seeking to reshape how protein structure determination transforms rational drug design, by developing and making the new methodologies and tools available through platforms and products to ensure they are widely and routinely used by researchers world-wide. His long-term programme is to shrink by two orders of magnitude the time and cost required to develop small molecule inhibitors, by combining national facilities, artificial intelligence, robotics and cloud-based open access science, in order to make the bespoke design of inhibitors a consistently cheap, fast and widely-used approach in biology and medicine.
He leads three research facilities that serve large user communities, are critical to multiple large, international research networks, and provide the outlet for wide-spread use of my methodologies. At Oxford for the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), he run the crystallography infrastructure that serves 100s of researchers. At Diamond Light Source, beamline I04-1 is used by at least 100 crystallography groups annually, and the world-first XChem facility seeds 30 academic and industrial drug discovery experiments annually with high-quality data. He has authored or co-authored over 100 publications, and he is co-applicant on several large international initiatives totalling over £70m.