2nd Drug Discovery Innovation Workshop

By Vsevolod Katritch, professor of quantitative and computational biology and chemistry and Charles McKenna, professor of chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences


Following the great success of the inaugural Drug Discovery Innovation Workshop last year, the Center for New Technologies in Drug Discovery and Development (CNT3D) is excited to host the second edition of the workshop in Michelson Hall (MCB101/102) on Feb. 23.

The workshop is organized by CNT3D with the participation of the Bridge Institute at the USC Michelson Center for Convergent Bioscience and MESH Academy at Keck School of Medicine of USC.  

In addition to talks by researchers at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Keck School of Medicine, USC Alfred E. Mann School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and USC Stevens Center for Innovation, the speaker lineup includes leaders in drug discovery technologies from University of California, San Francisco, Carnegie Mellon University, University of California, Irvine, and the Southern California pharmaceutical industry. We also plan to organize a representative panel centered on sharing ideas on how to strengthen drug discovery and development (3D) at USC.

We invite USC Dornsife scholars and all other members of the vibrant 3D community at USC and across the greater Los Angeles area to join us in discussing new experimental and computational technologies developed at USC targeting infectious diseases, cancer, drug dependency, and other important health challenges.

It has been a big year for CNT3D since the first workshop last spring. In June 2023, the center was awarded phase 2 funding from USC Dornsife, expanding its research and educational programs, and attracting new collaborations across the USC campuses and worldwide.

The year marked major advances in technologies by the center members, resulting in impactful publications in Nature, Cell, Nature Chemistry, Nature Communications, JACS, and other major peer-reviewed journals.

Among many exciting developments, one can highlight the discovery of a potential drug to repair inner ear cells from Charles McKenna’s lab, two new technologies for click chemistry drug design from Valery Fokin’s lab, the structural basis of anaphylatoxin binding from Cornelius Gati’s lab, an agent-based model of tumor-immune interactions from Stacey Finley’s lab. Several CNT3D computer-driven, giga-scale drug screening projects in Seva Katritch’s lab collaborations with researchers at USC and other universities advanced from the initial hit identification into the lead optimization stage, attracting external funding from foundations and the government.

As an important validation for our technology, one of the CNT3D discovery programs resulted in the first startup company, AT2Rx. This program, incubated in CNT3D and now deep in the preclinical stage, targets non-opioid treatment for chronic neuropathic pain, with clinical studies planned for early 2025.

The Feb. 23 workshop will continue fruitful discussion of the latest developments and future directions at CNT3D and other USC entities involved in health and life sciences, and better ways to collaborate toward building USC as a major hub for drug discovery and development in the greater L.A. region.