Cross-Disciplinary Research Shines at CLP Institute’s ‘Biotech Summit’

Esteemed faculty members, industry leaders, and investors took part in inaugural scientific showcase aimed at disease intervention

By Roger AndersonApril 8, 2019

“Renewed hope for millions.” That was the promise on display when a team of world-renowned Northwestern faculty presented their pathbreaking research as part of the inaugural Oppenheimer Biotech Summit by the Lake.

Joined by partners and presenters from Oppenheimer & Co., AbbVie, Genentech, and other industry leaders, the daylong summit — held March 27 at the Kellogg Global Hub — offered a glimpse into new strategies to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, ALS, infertility, and other hard-to-treat diseases.

“The Summit afforded the Chemistry of Life Sciences Institute and Northwestern University the opportunity to highlight for investors some of our most innovative research programs that are pushing the barriers of science,” said Thomas O’Halloran, director of the Chemistry of Life Processes (CLP) Institute. “At the same time, we introduced investors to cutting-edge biotechnology companies with Northwestern affiliations.” 

Cohosted by the CLP Institute and Oppenheimer, summit programing included presentations from institute faculty innovators and Northwestern alumni who lead major public companies. Members of Oppenheimer & Co. moderated a lunchtime panel discussion.

“The basic and translational research at Northwestern and at CLP specifically has been nothing short of groundbreaking across so many fields,” said Sujal Shah, a CLP board member and president and CEO of clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company CymaBay. “Our goal was to bring potential investors and potential collaborators from industry together with faculty and researchers at the institute. The summit was a great first step and we owe a tremendous amount of gratitude to Oppenheimer for sponsoring and running the event.”

The Chemistry of Life Processes Institute launched in 2005 as a catalyst for transdisciplinary biomedical research and drug discovery and development at Northwestern. The institute, housed in Silverman Hall on the Evanston campus, is composed of more than 60 investigators across multiple disciplines and includes more than 70 research faculty, administrative staff, technical staff, and research associates. CLP’s eight affiliated core facilities serve more than 500 faculty research programs across the University.

The institute has contributed to launching successful therapeutics such as Lyrica™ — the most financially successful drug ever to have come from a US academic institution — and has advanced 75 new drug candidates and incubated 26 companies, which have attracted more than $1.5 billion in external funding.

Lyrica™ creator Richard Silverman, the Patrick G. Ryan/Aon Professor, and many other presenters at the Biotech Summit by the Lake are featured in a new CLP video highlighting the institute’s charge to accelerate the time required for new treatments to go from the lab and into the clinic.

“Programs such as this summit really help solidify CLP’s reputation as a biotech incubator and ensure continued financial support from the investment community to drive future discovery and translational innovation at Northwestern,” said O’Halloran.

About Chemistry of Life Processes Institute

Chemistry of Life Processes Institute is where new cures and better diagnostics for life-threatening diseases begin at Northwestern. Drawn by the Institute’s extraordinary expertise and facilities for innovation and translation, researchers from across Northwestern converge to develop fresh insights and approaches for treating and diagnosing complex diseases such as cancer, epilepsy, heart disease, and Parkinson’s. CLP researchers accelerate the delivery of revolutionary science that improves lives and transforms human health.

About Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.

For more than 130 years, Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. has provided its clients with the financial expertise and insight to help achieve their goals. Oppenheimer has a proud tradition of providing innovative, customized solutions to its clients. Its partners believe in independent thinking that leads to innovative strategies tailored to client needs. Oppenheimer is proud of its reputation as a firm that helps individuals, families, corporate executives, foundations and endowments, charities, pension plans, businesses, and institutions.

Biotech Summit by the Lake faculty presentations:
  • Vadim Backman, Walter Dill Scott Professor of Biomedical Engineering
    “Developing Novel Strategies for Chromatin Regulation to Fight Resistance in Cancer Chemotherapy”
  • Susan E. Quaggin, Charles H. Mayo, M.D., Professor of Medicine
    “A High ‘TEK’ Solution for Vascular Diseases”
  • Evan Scott, Assistant Professor of Bomedical Engineering
    “A Scalable Platform for Enhanced Delivery and Efficacy of Diverse Therapeutic and Diagnostic Agents”
  • Richard B. Silverman, Patrick G. Ryan/Aon Professor and inventor of Lyrica™
    “Hepatocellular Carcinoma and ALS: Serious Unmet Medical Diseases Being Addressed in the Silverman Group”
  • Douglas Vaughan, Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine
    “Targeting PAI-1: A Novel Approach to Delay the Multi-morbidity of Aging”
  • Teresa Woodruff, Thomas J. Watkins Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
    “Oncofertility: From Bench to Bedside to Babies”
Corporate presenters and panelists:
  • Brian Bernick, Co-Founder and Director, TherapeuticsMD
  • Andrew Chan, SVP, Research Biology, Genentech
  • Margarita Chavez, Managing Director, AbbVie Ventures
  • Ankit Mahadevia, President and CEO, Spero Therapeutics
  • Michael Margolis, Managing Director, Oppenheimer & Co.
  • Chandler Robinson, Co-Founder and CEO, Monopar Therapeutics
  • Sujal Shah, President and CEO, CymaBay
  • Jim Sullivan, Venture Partner,  OrbiMed
  • S. Edward Torres, Founder and Managing Director, Lilly Ventures
  • Silvan Tuerkcan, Director, Oppenheimer & Co.