2019 RADD Agenda


2019 Keynote

Full detailed agenda for the day

Speakers and Moderators


Return to full conference site.

2019 Keynote

Barry R. O'Keefe, Ph.D.  Acting Chief, Molecular Targets Program  Center for Cancer Research  Chief, Natural Products Branch, Developmental Therapeutics Program  Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis  National Ca

Barry R. O'Keefe, Ph.D.
Acting Chief, Molecular Targets Program, Center for Cancer Research
Chief, Natural Products Branch, Developmental Therapeutics Program. Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis
National Cancer Institute

Natural Product-based Drug Discovery: Why, How and Is Now the Time?

The US National Cancer Institute’s Natural Product Extract Repository

Natural products have a proven track record in use as anti-cancer and anti-infective agents. As of 2014 natural products (NP), NP pharmacophores, and NP mimics represented more than 50 percent of small molecule-based anti-cancer and anti-microbial drugs. However, accessing the potential of NPs in high-throughput screening (HTS) campaigns has been challenging due to the complexity of the crude NP extracts, the time necessary for follow-up isolation efforts, and indefinite capabilities for large-scale resupply. This has resulted in NP-based libraries being significantly underrepresented in most recent large-scale HTS programs.

The US National Cancer Institute’s Natural Product Extract Repository is one of the world’s largest, most diverse collections of natural products containing over 230,000 unique extracts derived from plant, marine and microbial organisms. To address the challenges in screening NPs and encourage increased assay of NP chemical diversity, we have initiated the NCI Program for Natural Product Discovery (NPNPD) which has developed an automated, high-throughput robotics platform capable of generating a library of >1,000,000 partially purified extracts for screening. In addition, automated secondary purification and structure elucidation platforms have been created that significantly decrease costs and timelines. This presentation will discuss the reasons for, challenges to, and mechanisms by which to increase the pace and efficiency of NP-based drug discovery.

National Cancer Institute Natural Products Repository


Location for all events is McDonnell Hall (lower level), Princeton University. 


8:30 – 9:00 am



9:00 – 9:05 am


Coleen Burrus, Director of Corporate Engagement, Princeton University

Rodney Priestley, Vice Dean for Innovation (incoming) and Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University 

9:05 – 9:10 am

Introductory comments & acknowledgements

Sam Kongsamut, PhD, ILSE


9:10 – 9:55 am

Fireside chat #1: Kayothera, a Princeton spinout developing new therapeutics for people with late-stage or metastatic cancers. 


Mark Esposito, PhD, Co-Founder & CEO

Yibin Kang, PhD, Co-Founder & Chair of Scientific Advisory Board; Professor, Princeton University

Mike Wiley, JD, MBA, Vice President, New Jersey Health Foundation, moderator

9:55 – 10:15 am

Scientific case study #1: Antibacterial Drug Discovery at Center for Discovery and Innovation- Hackensack Meridian Health 

Thomas Dick, PhD, Professor, Center for Discovery and Innovation, Hackensack Meridian Health

10:15 – 10:35 am

Scientific case study #2: New Platforms for Antibacterial Research 

Joel Freundlich, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience, Rutgers University–New Jersey Medical School

10:35 – 11:00 am

Networking break

On display: Core Facilities & Poster Exhibits

11:00 – 11:20 am

Scientific case study #3: Opposing Roles of Branched-chain Amino Acid Transferase 1 in Parkinson’s Disease and the Regulation of Longevity


Danielle Mor, PhD,  Postdoctoral Researcher, Princeton University

11:20 – 11:40 am

Scientific case study #4: Nanomedicine for Acute Critical Illnesses

Jacob Brenner, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania


11:40 am – 12:00 pm

Scientific case study #5: New Immune Checkpoint: From discovery to clinical trials

XingXing Zang, PhD, Professor, Albert Einstein College of Medicine

12:00 – 1:30 pm


Includes Poster Session & Networking


Many thanks to our Platinum sponsors, Daiichi Sankyo and Genmab

1:30 – 2:15 pm

Fireside chat #2: Manzara, a Princeton spinout developing novel therapeutics based on a revolutionary peptide discovery platform 


Raghav Chari, PhD, CEO

Herschel Rabitz, PhD. CTO. Professor, Princeton University

Tony Williams, PhD, MBA, New Ventures Associate, Princeton Office of Technology Licensing, moderator 

2:15 – 3:15 pm


Keynote Speaker: Natural Product-based Drug Discovery: Why, How and Is Now the Time?

Barry O’Keefe, PhD, National Cancer Institute

3:15 – 3:30 pm

Networking break

On display: Core Facilities & Poster Exhibits

3:30 – 3:40 pm

Poster presentation winner #1

To be announced after judging

3:40 – 3:50 pm

Poster presentation winner #2

To be announced after judging

3:50 – 4:30 pm

Business Panel Discussion

Jeffrey Warmke, PhD, Senior Vice President, Daiichi Sankyo Group

Leigh Zawel, PhD, Executive Partner, MPM Capital

John Anthes, PhD, Director, TODRICC, Celgene

Vince Smeraglia, JD, Executive Director, Strategic Alliances, ORED, Rutgers University, moderator.

Louise Lammers, PhD, Associate Director of Operations, Center for Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, Icahn School of Medicine, moderator.


Concluding remarks

Dean R.Edelman, JD, Office of Corporate Engagement, Life Sciences Team, Princeton University

4:30 – 6:00 pm 

Networking reception

Many thanks to our Platinum sponsors, Daiichi Sankyo and Genmab


Speakers and Moderators


John Anthes, PhD – Director, Thomas O. Daniel Research Incubator and Collaboration Center, Celgene Corporation

A Director at Celgene, John Anthes is responsible for the establishment and operational execution of the Thomas O. Daniel Research Incubator and Collaboration Center. Prior to joining Celgene, John was a Director of Biomedical Licensing at Rutgers University. In this role, he was responsible for evaluation and commercialization of the intellectual property of key Rutgers faculty. This included patenting, licensing, research contracts and NewCo activities. In addition, he was engaged in corporate outreach and liaison with University technology transfer offices throughout the country. Before Rutgers, John was a Director of External Scientific Affairs at Merck, involved with coordinating and driving decisions of due diligence teams regarding in-licensing opportunities. Prior to the acquisition by Merck, John was a Research Fellow at Schering- Plough, involved with the preclinical pharmacological characterization of several clinical candidates including commercial products Claritin, Clarinex, Nasonex and Dulera. 


Jacob Brenner, MD, PhD – Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Brenner is a physician-engineer who has started 3 funded companies, including one already with FDA approval.  He is an assistant professor and attending physician at the University of Pennsylvania, in both Pulm / Critical Care and Pharmacology.  He spends 15% of his time taking care of patients in the ICU, and the rest developing medical technologies. His lab develops both macro-scale medical devices (which formed the basis of his first 3 companies), and also nano-scale technologies, focused on “nanomedicine for acute critical illnesses (ACIs)”.  ACIs are immediately life-threatening diseases, such as sepsis, stroke, and more. The Brenner lab has created a platform technology, VMLs (vascular-targeted multi-drug loaded lipid nanocarriers), designed for the treatment of ACIs, with near-term plans for commercialization. Brennerbioengineeringlab.com 


Raghav Chari, PhD – CEO, Manzara Therapeutics 

Raghav Chari is equal parts a scientist and a businessman, who throughout his career has worked on developing exciting science into successful products. He is currently CEO of Manzara Therapeutics, a peptide drug discovery company based on a technology platform developed at Princeton University. Prior to Manzara, he was the leader of the integrated R&D and commercial businesses within Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories that focused on branded specialty products for the US market. During his time with Dr. Reddy’s, he successfully built an R&D effort that culminated in several first cycle NDA approvals, and subsequently launched these products into the US market. He also held senior corporate development and strategy positions at other publicly traded biopharma companies prior to Dr. Reddy’s. He started his career in the pharmaceutical industry as a consultant with McKinsey and Company. Raghav has a B.S. in Math from the California Institute of Technology and obtained his PhD in Theoretical Physics from Princeton University.


Thomas Dick, PhD – Center for Discovery and Innovation, Hackensack Meridian Health 

Dr. Dick has 20 years of experience in mycobacteriology and antibiotic research. Prior to his current appointment as Professor at the Center for Discovery and Innovation - Hackensack Meridian Health, he was Tuberculosis (TB) disease area head at Novartis and served at the National University of Singapore and Rutgers, Newark. Dr Dick studied at Heidelberg University where he obtained his PhD in molecular bacteriology. Dr Dick’s research focuses on the discovery of new medicines for the treatment of TB and lung disease caused by Non-Tuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM). 


Mark Esposito, PhD – Co-Founder and CEO, Kayothera

Dr. Mark Esposito is the CEO and co-founder of Kayothera, a discovery stage biotechnology company developing therapies to treat late-stage cancer patients. Dr. Esposito received his B.A. from Middlebury College and his PhD from Princeton University under Dr. Yibin Kang. Dr. Esposito’s work has focused on identifying the fundamental mechanisms driving solid tumor relapse and suppression of anti-tumor immunity. Translating discoveries made in the lab at Princeton University, Dr. Esposito’s team at Kayothera is developing small molecule therapeutics with the goal of curing advanced stage cancer patients.


Joel Freundlich, PhD – Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience, Rutgers University–New Jersey Medical School

Joel Freundlich is an Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Neuroscience and of Medicine at Rutgers University–New Jersey Medical School. Prior to his return to academic research, he spent eight years in the pharmaceutical industry as a medicinal chemist. His undergraduate and master’s degree training were in chemical engineering at Cornell University as a McMullen Dean’s Scholar. He received his doctorate in organic chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under the tutelage of 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry awardee Richard Schrock.


Yibin Kang, PhD – Co-Founder and Chair, Scientific Advisory Board, Kayothera Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology, Princeton University

Yibin Kang is the Warner-Lambert/Parke-Davis Professor of Molecular Biology at Princeton University and an Associate Director of Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey. Dr. Kang completed his graduate study at Duke and postdoctoral training at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and joined the faculty of Princeton University in 2004. Dr. Kang’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of breast cancer metastasis. His work discovered new genes that promote recurrence, metastasis and chemoresistance of breast cancer, delineated tumor-stromal interactions that are essential for metastatic growth, and identified novel regulators with dual functions in mammary gland cell fate determination and tumor progression.

Sam Kongsamut, Vice President of R&D, BryoLogyx

Sam Kongsamut has nearly 30 years of R&D experience in the life science industry. He works to grow life sciences entrepreneurship in the NJ/NY region, through the Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship and ELAB NYC, and has been involved with three biotech ventures, two as co-founder and one as interim CEO. He is currently VP of R&D at BryoLogyx, a cancer immunotherapy startup. He has provided consulting services to pharmaceutical clients, launching life science ventures, mentoring/advising startups, and has held various roles in multinational pharmaceutical companies for over 20 years. Dr. Kongsamut obtained his PhD in neuropharmacology at the University of Chicago and had postdoctoral training at Cornell and Yale Universities. He is an Associate Fellow at Drew University’s RISE, an adjunct faculty member at Rutgers University New Jersey Medical School, and on the scientific review boards for foundations and universities.


Louise Lammers, PhD – Associate Director of Operations, Center for Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship, Icahn School of Medicine

Louise Lammers, PhD, is the Associate Director of Operations and the Senior Program Manager for 4D Technology Development at the Center for Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Lammers came to Mount Sinai in 2012, after moving to the United States from the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, she started and managed a pre-competitive research program at TI Pharma that enables and runs pharmaceutical research partnerships between industry and academia. Prior to TI Pharma, she worked for Philips Electronics in several R&D management roles in Europe and Asia. Dr. Lammers was a post-doctoral fellow at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and received a PhD in structural chemistry from the University of Cape Town in South Africa.


Danielle Mor, PhD – Postdoctoral Researcher, Princeton University 

Dr. Danielle Mor is a highly passionate neuroscientist, with special expertise in the fields of neurodegenerative disease and aging. She received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Pennsylvania, where she generated new mouse and C. elegans models of Parkinson's disease that provide mechanistic insight into the death of dopamine neurons. As a postdoc with Dr. Coleen Murphy at Princeton University, Dr. Mor has helped to discover a novel link between Parkinson’s disease and defective branched-chain amino acid metabolism. She is now using a multi-omics approach in C. elegans to investigate the mechanisms underlying this link, and has developed a high-throughput screening platform to identify new potential treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

Barry R. O'Keefe, PhD  -- Acting Chief, Molecular Targets Program, Center for Cancer Research; Chief, Natural Products Branch, Developmental Therapeutics Program, Division of Cancer Treatment and Diagnosis National Cancer Institute

Dr. Barry O’Keefe received a B.S in Botany from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in Pharmacognosy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. O’Keefe immediately started post-doctoral research in the National Cancer Institute’s Laboratory of Drug Discovery Research and Development to study novel proteins from natural products extracts; studies he continues as Head of the Protein Chemistry and Molecular Biology Section and Acting Chief of the Molecular Targets Program. Dr. O’Keefe is an inventor on over 50 U.S. and international patents and is an author of over 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts. Dr. O’Keefe is also Chief of the Natural Products Branch, DTP, DCTD, NCI which is responsible for the collection, extraction, pre-fractionation and discovery of bioactive natural products.

Rodney Priestley, Vice Dean for Innovation (incoming) and Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University

Rodney Priestley, professor of chemical and biological engineering, is also Princeton University's inaugural vice dean for innovation (effective 2020). The newly created position provides academic leadership for innovation and entrepreneurship activities across campus. Priestley is engaged in three industry-university research collaborations in the areas of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and polymer nanocomposite design and is the co-founder of two companies working to translate University intellectual property into technologies or products. A leading researcher in the area of complex materials and processing, he is associate director of the Princeton Center for Complex Materials and is director of graduate studies for the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering. He has published nearly 100 articles and is co-inventor on four patent-pending technologies in the area of drug-delivery and polymer colloids. Priestley joined Princeton in 2009, after completing a postdoctoral fellowship at École Supérieure de Physique et de Chimie Industrielles in Paris. He received his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Northwestern University and his B.S. in chemical engineering from Texas Tech University.

Herschel Rabitz, PhD – Professor of Chemistry, Princeton University

Professor Herschel Rabitz is a faculty member in the Chemistry Department and is associated with the Applied and Computational Mathematics Program at Princeton University. He has also served as the Chairman of the Chemistry Department. He received his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from Harvard University. His interests include algorithm development for accelerating the discovery of molecules and materials as well as theoretical foundations for controlling quantum dynamics phenomena with electromagnetic fields. In addition, he has an extensive experimental research program, using tailored lasers for the multiplexed operation of optogenetic switches and associated biological sensors. Research in his laboratory lead to the technology utilized by Manzara Therapeutics for peptide discovery, where he serves on the Board.


Vincent Smeraglia, JD – Executive Director, Strategic Alliances, ORED, Rutgers University

Vince Smeraglia is the Executive Director of Strategic Alliances, developing biomedical Rutgers collaborative relationships with universities, foundations and corporate partners. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Rutgers Office of Technology Commercialization, overseeing patenting and licensing of Rutgers inventions. He was also the Executive Director of the UMDNJ Office of Technology Transfer & Business Development before UMDNJ and Rutgers merged. Before joining UMDNJ/Rutgers, Vince conducted biomedical research at Cytogen Corporation, developing antibody conjugates for diagnostic and therapeutic clinical uses. Vince has a B.S. in Biochemistry from Rutgers, and a Masters of Intellectual Property and J.D. from the University of New Hampshire Law School.


Jeffrey Warmke, PhD – Senior Vice President, Daiichi Sankyo Group

Dr. Jeffrey Warmke is currently Senior Vice President, Global Business Development, Daiichi Sankyo Group. He leads the Search and Evaluation group responsible for identification and evaluation of Product Licensing and Research and Development collaboration opportunities, and he also heads the co-development partner Alliance Management function. Dr. Warmke began his career in the pharmaceutical industry at Merck Research Laboratories where he held positions of increasing responsibility in Discovery Research and Project Planning and Management. Dr. Warmke joined the Project Management group at Sankyo Pharma Development in 2002, and with the formation of Daiichi Sankyo Pharma Development in 2006, he was appointed co-leader of the Global Project Management function and served as a member of the Global R&D Management Committee. Dr. Warmke received his B.A. in Biology from Wabash College and his Ph.D. in Molecular Genetics from The Ohio State University.  


Michael Wiley, JD/MBA – Vice President, New Jersey Health Foundation

Michael Wiley is Vice President of the New Jersey Health Foundation and its affiliate, Foundation Venture Capital Group, LLC. These organizations provide grant funding and/or pre-seed investments for health-related projects and start-up companies founded by researchers at the Kessler Foundation, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Rowan University, Rutgers University and Stevens Institute of Technology. Mr. Wiley’s previous experience includes roles in: business development, new venture financing, program/product development, commercial contracting, and intellectual property/technology licensing for organizations such as the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (Edison Innovation Fund), Avaya, Rutgers University’s Office of Corporate Liaison and Technology Transfer, and Lucent Technologies.  Mr. Wiley has earned B.A., M.B.A. and J.D. degrees from West Virginia University.


Tony Williams, PhD – New Ventures Associate, Office of Technology Licensing, Princeton University 

As New Ventures Associate in the Office of Technology Licensing at Princeton University, Tony Williams plays a pivotal role in developing and translating Princeton research into practical applications to benefit society. After earning a PhD in chemistry from the University of Cambridge, Tony gained postdoctoral research experience in materials chemistry at the University of Edinburgh, and then at Princeton University in the laboratory of Professor Robert Cava. He later earned an MBA from the University of Oxford, where he won a competitive fellowship to work for the university’s technology transfer office. Tony spent three years on the Technology Ventures team at Imperial Innovations, the technology transfer office of Imperial College London and one of the UK’s leading investors in academic research-based startups. He was responsible for the development of early-stage investment opportunities from universities, including evaluation of technologies, design and execution of proof-of-concept projects, investment negotiation, and deal execution, working with the academic founders to build businesses based on their cutting-edge research. 


Xingxing Zang, PhD – Professor, Louis Goldstein Swan Chair, Albert Einstein College of Medicine 

Dr. XingXing Zang is Professor and Louis Goldstein Swan Chair at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. His laboratory has been at the forefront of discovery and functional dissection of new immune checkpoints, with the objective of applying new knowledge to the development of new therapeutic strategies for cancer, autoimmune disorder, infection, transplant rejection, and metabolic diseases. Dr. Zang graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine (China), received his PhD from the University of Edinburgh (UK) and did postdoctoral training with James Allison at the University of California at Berkeley and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. 


Leigh Zawel, PhD – Executive Partner, MPM Capital

Dr. Leigh Zawel, an oncology expert with significant pharmaceutical experience overseeing large and small-molecule projects, is the CSO of Small Molecules for Cullinan Oncology, a portfolio company of the UBS Oncology Impact Fund managed by MPM. Previously, Leigh was Vice President and East Coast Site Head for Pfizer’s Centers for Therapeutic Innovation and oncology site lead at Merck Research Laboratories in Boston. He also held posts at Sanofi-Aventis, where he was Director of Cancer Biology, and at Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research, where he was an Oncology Group Leader. Leigh has published more than 35 scientific papers and is also an inventor on 45 patents covering chemical matter, drug combinations, biomarker utility and gene function in areas of apoptosis, inflammation and TGFB signaling. He completed postdoctoral training at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and earned a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. Leigh also holds a M.S. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin and a B.S. in Biology from Rutgers University.