Digital Events

Visionaries Speak

Virtual Roundtable Series

Join us for a virtual fireside chat with visionaries in your field! We’re bringing together biopharma KOLs recognized for their contributions to innovative human disease research and translational safety to share their thoughts on technologies that are transforming drug discovery.  Our roundtable panelists will explore thought-provoking topics, such as:

All our interactive roundtable discussions will be recorded and made available as podcasts.  However, we encourage you to register and attend the live events, as they offer  an exclusive opportunity to ask questions and participate in the conversation!

September 21, 2021

Is Drug Screening in 3D Ready for Automation?

3D cell-based assays, including organoids, spheroids, and advanced organ-on-chip systems, have grown in popularity in the scientific community. Compared to conventional 2D assays, 3D assays deliver more biological relevance, more closely mimic the tissue microenvironment, and offer extended culturing necessary to assess physiological drug effects. Still, their use in larger-scale drug screening programs is limited, despite these clear advantages.

In this discussion, Dr. Terry Riss from Promega, Dr. Tim Spicer from Scripps Research, and Dr. Jan Lichtenberg from InSphero explored the latest state-of-the-art automated 3D cell-based assays and focused on progress and obstacles on the way to fully automated screening in 3D. During the event, our panelists address questions and topics, such as:

  • What are the advantages of moving to phenotypic screens in 3D?
  • How do you choose the right 3D modality (spheroid, organoid, other scaffold-based approaches) and supporting cells, for your research?
  • How do you select assays (biochemical vs. imaging vs. omics) from 3D models that automate well, and deliver consistent results?
  • Use cases for automated 3D cell-based assays in the drug R&D process, safety vs. discovery
  • What are the key hurdles, and how do we overcome them?
This roundtable discussion is now available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.  You can also listen to the audio file here.

Our Panelists

Dr. Terry Riss, Senior Product Manager, Cell Health, Promega Corporation
Dr. Terry Riss started the Cell Biology program at Promega Corporation in 1990. He managed the development of cell viability, cytotoxicity, apoptosis, and protease assay systems and lead efforts to identify and promote multiplexing of cell-based assays to determine the mechanism of cell death.  He now serves as Senior Product Manager, Cell Health, involved in outreach educational training activities, including validating assay systems applied to 3D cell culture models. Terry is also an editor of the In Vitro Cell-Based Assays section of the Assay Guidance Manual hosted by The National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the NIH.

Dr. Tim Spicer, Senior Scientific Director, Department of Molecular Medicine, Scripps Research
Dr. Tim Spicer is the Senior Scientific Director in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research. He has more than 30 years of experience in drug discovery, including ten years at Bristol-Myers Squibb.  He is currently the director of HTS and discovery biology and co-directs the screening center at Scripps.  Tim supervises HTS assay development & related efforts, including technology development funded through the NIH with an award for the “Advanced Development and Validation of 3-Dimensional Spheroid Culture of Primary Cancer Cells using Nano3D Technology”. He has authored >125 drug-discovery-related publications and is an inventor on 3 patents.

Dr. Jan Lichtenberg, Co-Founder & CEO, InSphero
Dr. Jan Lichtenberg is Co-Founder and CEO of InSphero – the largest biotech specialized in 3D cell-culture technologies for discovery and safety. Jan co-founded InSphero in 2009 and grew the company to 65 employees in Switzerland and the US while expanding the business to encompass all top 15 global pharmaceutical companies. Prior to InSphero, Jan had VP R&D and Product Management positions at Hocoma AG (medical robotics) and Uwatec (microelectronics). He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Neuchâtel and managed a research group at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich. Since 2021, he is a Board Member of the Society of Laboratory Science and Screening (SLAS).

April 28, 2021

Type 1 Diabetes: Emerging Perspectives on Disease Pathogenesis, Prevention and Treatment

Our understanding of the human T1D etiology along with proposed therapeutic options has greatly advanced during the last decades. Nevertheless, the rate of bench to bedside translation is still disappointingly slow. During the live and interactive discussion, our panelists explored key topics on:

  • Major discoveries and knowledge gaps in our understanding of T1D pathogenesis.
  • Emerging therapies to treat or prevent T1D, and their potential challenges.
This roundtable discussion is now available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.  You can also listen to the audio file here.

Our Panelists

Prof. Matthias Hebrok, Professor at the Diabetes Center at the University of California San Francisco
Matthias Hebrok is Hurlbut-Johnson Distinguished Professor in Diabetes Research at the Diabetes Center at the University of California San Francisco. He received his Diploma degree in Cell Biology from the Albert-Ludwigs University, performed his PhD thesis at the Max-Planck-Institute, and conducted his postdoctoral research at HHMI at Harvard University. His laboratory has made seminal contributions to our understanding of how embryonic signals control the fetal development of the pancreas and its insulin-producing beta cells. His recent work has implemented the information gained from these studies to generate functional beta cells from human stem cell populations for cell therapy purposes.

Prof. Matthias von Herrath, Vice President and Senior Medical Officer at Novo Nordisk 
Matthias von Herrath holds a dual appointment as Vice President and Senior Medical Officer at Novo Nordisk and Professor at the La Jolla Institute for Immunology Center for Autoimmunity and Inflammation. He received his medical degree from the Freiburg Medical School in Germany and completed his residency work in the Internal Medicine/Immunology department at the Freiburg Medical Center. For his postdoctoral work, Dr. von Herrath went to The Scripps Research Institute and worked in its Neuropharmacology and Immunology departments. Matthias is committed to clinical translation of immune-based interventions in autoimmune and metabolic diseases. His expertise and main strength is working at the interface of experimental research to interpret and refine early phase I/II clinical trials in order to optimize strategies for phase 3 trials and drug approval.

Prof. Mark Peakman, Senior Director of Autoimmunity and Type 1 Diabetes research at Sanofi
Mark Peakman trained in medicine at University College London and pursued postgraduate training in clinical immunology. After his PhD on the immune system in type 1 diabetes he held a senior clinical research fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh. He returned to the UK to oversee research at King’s College London in the Department of Immunobiology, focused on T lymphocytes in autoimmune disease. In 2019 Mark took a position as Senior Director of Autoimmunity and Type 1 Diabetes research at Sanofi, with the goal of designing and implementing strategies to bring disease modifying therapies to patients with autoimmunity.

Dr. Burcak Yesildag, Vice President – Diabetes Research at InSphero AG
Burcak Yesildag is the Vice President of the Diabetes Research at InSphero AG. She received her MSc degree in Biochemistry and PhD degree in Translation Biomedicine from ETHZ (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich). Her team at InSphero is strongly committed to the development of standardized, high throughput compatible and physiologically relevant assay systems and disease models for the study of type 1 and type 2 diabetes with primary or stem-cell derived human tissues. Her goal is to utilize these novel and robust models in collaborations with a broad scientific community around the world, in order to accelerate the clinical translation of novel discoveries and to contribute to the overall efficiency and reproducibility of the pancreatic islet research.

March 4, 2021

Does Physiological Complexity Kill Scalability?

During this roundtable about industrial applications for complex, yet scalable in vitro models for drug discovery, we discussed the importance of balancing experimental complexity and scalability, and how thoughtful engineering can ensure successful translation from academia to industry. Our panelists explored key topics, such as:

  • Why are biological complexity and experimental scalability both essential for producing meaningful and robust datasets?
  • What are the trade-offs between complexity and scalability?
  • In which stages of research and development are scalability most critical?
  • How does scalability of complex systems influence drug development?
  • What are the next steps to ensure translatability of complex model systems?
This roundtable discussion is now available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.  You can also listen to the audio file here.

Our Panelists

Academic Perspective
Prof. Jaap den Toonder, Professor and Chair of the Microsystems section, Eindhoven University of Technology
Jaap is a full professor and Chair of the Microsystems section at Eindhoven University of Technology, and former Principal Scientist and Chief Technologist at Philips Research. He received his PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Delft University of Technology. His research focuses on the investigation and development of novel microsystems design approaches and out-of-cleanroom fabrication technologies. His application focus is on microfluidic chips, biomedical microdevices, organs-on-chips, and soft microrobotics. The section’s research approaches are often biologically inspired, translating principles from nature into technological innovations.

Academic Perspective
Dr. Peter Loskill, Assistant Professor, Research Institute for Women’s Health, Eberhard Karls University Tübingen
Peter is Assistant Professor at the Research Institute for Women’s Health Faculty of Medicine at Eberhard Karls University Tübingen.  He is also Head of Innovation Field at Fraunhofer IGB, Coordinator of the European Organ-on-Chip training network MSCA-ITN-EUROoC, and Vice-Chair of the European-Organ-on-Chip-Society (EUROoCS). He holds a PhD in Physics from Saarland University and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at UC Berkeley. In 2015, he was named as one of Technology Review’s “Innovators under 35 Germany” and awarded a Fraunhofer ATTRACT starting grant. His interdisciplinary µOrganoLab combines approaches from engineering, biology, physics and medicine to generate and apply novel microphysiological tissue models recapitulating complex human biology in vitro.

Industry Perspective
Dr. Florian Fuchs, Senior Principle Scientist, Nuvisan Innovation Campus Berlin
Florian is a Lab head within Lead Discovery at the Nuvisan Innovation Campus Berlin and former group leader on complex cellular models and cell-based screening at Novartis Basel. He holds a PhD in Chemistry from the Ludwig Maximilians University at Munich

Biopharma Perspective

Dr. Olivier Frey, Head of Platforms and Technologies, InSphero AG
Olivier is Head of Technologies & Platforms and the Lead Project Manager of Microphysiological Systems at InSphero AG. He is a former group leader of the Bio Engineering Laboratory of ETHZ (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich). He holds a Dr.Sc in Microtechnology from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne and an MSc in Microtechnology, Mechanics from ETH Zürich.

January 26, 2021 This event is now available as a podcast

Animal-Free Drug Safety Testing: Challenges and Opportunities

Drug safety testing is an essential part of drug R&D. New drug candidates must be tested in animals before they can enter first-in-human trials. The current animal testing paradigm has proven advantages as well as significant weaknesses.  Alternative methods are increasingly being used to compensate for these weaknesses. In this roundtable, our panelists discussed challenges and opportunities for applying in vitro and in silico models in drug development to improve translation to patients. They addressed key questions, such as:
  • Do animals predict human drug safety correctly? What are the general limitations?
  • How can we increase predictivity of drug safety for patients?
  • What are the challenges for evaluating new therapeutic modalities?
  • What are the most promising new animal-free technologies and testing strategies for risk assessment?
  • What will drug safety risk assessment look like in 2030?
This roundtable discussion is now available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts.  You can also listen to the audio file here.

Our Panelists

Pharmaceutical Industry Perspective
Dr. Stefan Platz, Senior Vice President and Head of Clinical Pharmacology and Safety Services, R&D, AstraZeneca
Stefan is a senior R&D leader and passionate scientist at AstraZeneca globally leading clinical pharmacology, pharmacometrics, as well as toxicology and pathology. Creating ground-breaking medicines and being led by innovative science is in the center of his work. Stefan is a board-certified toxicologist in addition to earlier qualifying as a certified veterinary pathologist at the University of Munich. He has over 25 years of experience working across global pharmaceutical companies including Roche and AstraZeneca.

Academic Perspective
Prof. Thomas Hartung, Professor, Johns Hopkins University  Bloomberg School of Public Health
Thomas is a Professor of Evidence-based Toxicology and Director of the Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Konstanz. He is a passionate advocate for replacing animal testing with more ethical and predictive in vitro models and is investigating new applications for big data and artificial intelligence in toxicity testing.

Biotech Perspective

Prof. Armin Wolf, Chief Scientific Officer, InSphero
An accomplished pharma R&D executive and board-certified toxicologist with more than 30 years cumulative experience at Novartis and Janssen, Armin is a leading expert in mechanistic and investigative safety and discovery, dedicated to the development of physiologically relevant models for industry applications. Armin joined InSphero as CSO in 2019.  He maintains a dual appointment as a Professor of Toxicology at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, Germany.

Where Innovators Meet

2021 Online Symposium

Our 2021 symposium will feature an  impressive line-up of speakers who will share their visions for how we can bring the bench closer to the bedside with emerging 3D cell technologies and examples of how they are applying 3D cell technologies in their work today.  representing a broad range of body-and organ-on-a-chip approaches, 3D cell technologies, and 3D tissue and disease models will be available for viewing throughout the day.  We will be posting more details in the coming months.  If you would like to share your innovative 3D cell-based research with the group, check back for details about how to submit your abstract.
By registering for New Frontiers virtual roundtables and symposia, you agree to receive emails from the meeting organizers about upcoming digital events and technology news. You may unsubscribe at any time.