Plenary Keynotes 2022

Charlene Kahler

A/Prof Charlene Kahler is Head of the Infection and Immunity Division at The University of Western Australia’s School of Biomedical Sciences.

As a specialist researcher in the field of microbiology, Dr Kahler studies micro-organisms and related technology to uncover ways to improve immune system health.

Dr Kahler moved to UWA from Monash University where she was a Faculty of Medicine Fellow since 1999.

Prior to then, she completed her first post-doctoral position at Emory University in Atlanta (USA) and received her Bachelor of Science and PhD in microbiology at the University of Queensland.

As an expert in the field of developing novel medical countermeasures against infectious disease, Dr Kahler is researching natural products and inhibitors of virulence properties of pathogens to discover supplements for traditional treatment therapies. This includes focusing on the bacterial pathogens causing sepsis and investigating ways to better understand the toxins produced in infections that lead to septic shock.

Chris Smith

Dr Christopher R. Smith is the Executive Director for Drug Discovery at Mirati Therapeutics. Mirati is a targeted oncology company focused on targeted solutions for genetic and immunological drivers of cancer. Prior to Mirati Christopher spent over a decade developing fragment-based approaches coupled with medicinal chemistry to discover development candidates across a range of therapeutics areas. For example MRTX1719 and SGX523 for cancer and TAK-020 for inflammation. Christopher co-led the FBLD conference in San Diego in 2018 and is a strong advocate for fragment-based approaches in drug discovery. Christopher obtained his PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Glasgow and started his medicinal chemistry career at Pfizer, Sandwich in 1999.

Anders Friberg

Dr Anders Friberg focused his graduate studies on protein structure elucidation and protein-ligand interaction studies, mainly by NMR (Technical University Munich, Germany). During his postdoctoral stay in the lab of Steve Fesik at Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN) his interest moved to drug discovery in general and fragment-based methods in particular. Today, at Nuvisan ICB (previously Bayer Pharma Research, Berlin), he is a senior scientist in the Structural Biology group within the Lead Discovery department. Here, he supports (external) drug discovery projects with structural data during lead optimization, as well as early projects with starting points identified by NMR-based fragment screening.

Jan Wollenhaupt

Dr Jan Wollenhaupt is a postdoc in the MX group of Manfred Weiss at BESSY II. He achieved his PhD in the lab of structural biochemistry of Markus Wahl at Freie Universität Berlin and had postdoc training in the drug design group of Gerhard Klebe in Marburg. Jan helped establish crystallographic fragment screening (CFS) as a routine user experiment at BESSY II and is now responsible for the support of CFS campaigns conducted there. His research interest is method improvement of CFS, advancing hits to higher potency, modulation of protein-protein interactions and anti-infective drug discovery.

Ben Davis

Dr Ben Davis is a Research Fellow at Vernalis Research, a biotech company based in Cambridge UK which has been at the forefront of fragment-based approaches since 1998. His research focus is in developing and applying NMR and other biophysical techniques to enable drug discovery against challenging therapeutic targets and systems. In particular, this has involved using NMR to understand and solve problems, and to help guide medicinal chemistry programs where other structural methods are not readily applicable.
Following a PhD in protein folding and ligand binding with Professor Alan Fersht at Cambridge University, Dr Davis developed and applied biophysical techniques to study small molecule interactions with proteins and RNA in academic and industrial settings. He has over 25 years of experience in the drug discovery industry. He has contributed to six books over the last decade and is an author on more than thirty scientific publications. He is a frequent speaker at scientific conferences and has been running FBLD and NMR training workshops since 2007.

Olga Ilyichova

Dr Olga Ilyichova, Monash University/ANSTO

Dr Olga Ilyichova is a Research Fellow at the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (Parkville, Australia) and a Postdoctoral Scientist at the Australian Synchrotron, ANSTO (Clayton, Australia). Olga received her BSc (Hons) in Applied Physics and Mathematics at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (Russia), followed by a PhD in Biochemistry and Structural Biology at Monash University (Clayton, Australia) under the supervision of Professor Ashley Buckle.

In 2012, Olga moved to the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (MIPS) to join Professor Martin Scanlon’s group, where she gained extensive experience in Fragment Screening by X-Ray crystallography.

In 2021, in collaboration with ANSTO, Olga was appointed to lead the development of a new crystallographic ligand screening pipeline at the Australian Synchrotron. Current responsibilities include setting up the infrastructure, development, integration, and implementation of various computational tools to support large-scale crystallography-based screening experiments.      

Olga’s main research interests are in fragment screening by X-Ray crystallography, automation and the development of novel methodologies for high-throughput protein crystallographic screening.