Wednesday, January 22 | 1:45 - 3:05 pm

Aqua Salon

R&D Challenges in an Era of Innovation

The PepTalk Plenary Keynote Panel convenes a group of leading scientists working across novel therapeutic modalities and R&D technologies to explore the many challenges associated with discovering, developing, and advancing today’s novel biotherapeutics. The Panel, via a highly interactive format, encourages discussion among both the panelists and the audience members. Please come prepared with your questions and ideas for this spirited discussion.


  • Advances and challenges in expression and production for novel modalities
  • Implementing next-generation informatics: data collection, standardization, analysis, ML/AI, and considerations for IP landscape and protection
  • Implementing R&D and production capacity for gene and cell therapies – where are we heading?
  • Modality-specific challenges: multi-specifics for cancer, improving the ADC therapeutic window, improved safety and pharmacology, novel delivery/targeting
  • Preclinical and clinical development of drug combinations with focus in IO: How do we select the right combination dose so we can accelerate clinical development?


Mohammad Tabrizi, PhD, Senior Director, Pharmacology, Ascendis Pharma A/S


Edward Kraft, PhD, Senior Scientific Manager, Biomolecular Resources, Genentech

Ilya Shestopalov, PhD, Associate Director, Cell Analytics, bluebird bio

David E. Szymkowski, PhD, Vice President, Cell Biology, Xencor, Inc.

Alayna George Thompson, PhD, Senior Scientist I, Drug Discovery Science & Technology, AbbVie

Additional Conference Keynote Speakers

Paolo Arosio, PhD, Professor, Biochemical Engineering, Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zurich

Phillip Berman, PhD, Distinguished Research Professor, Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz

Murali Bilikallahalli, PhD, Vice President and Head of Technical Operations, Acceleron Pharma

Bryan Briney, PhD, Assistant Professor, Immunology and Microbiology, The Scripps Research Institute

Partha S. Chowdhury, Senior Director, Biologics Research, Sanofi Genzyme

Rakesh Dixit, PhD, DABT, President & CEO, Bionavigen, LLC

Aris N. Economides, PhD, Vice President, Research, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Guangping Gao, PhD, Co-Director, Li Weibo Institute for Rare Diseases Research; Director, Horae Gene Therapy Center and Viral Vector Core; Professor, Microbiology and Physiological Systems, University of Massachusetts Medical School

Mo Heidaran, PhD, Vice President, Technical, PAREXEL Consulting, PAREXEL International

Alois Jungbauer, PhD, Professor and Head, Institute of Bioprocess Science and Engineering, Biotechnology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU)

John K. Kawooya, PhD, Director, Biologics Optimization, Discovery Research, Amgen, Inc.

Josh LaBaer, MD, PhD, Executive Director, Biodesign Institute, Arizona State University

Muthiah (Mano) Manoharan, PhD, Senior Vice President, Drug Discovery, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Shahram Salek-Ardakani, PhD, Senior Director, Cancer Immunology Discovery, Pfizer

Peter Schurtenberger, PhD, Professor, Department of Chemistry, Lund University

Peter M. Tessier, PhD, Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chemical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan

Elizabeth M. Topp, PhD, Dane O. Kildsig Chair and Department Head, Department of Industrial and Physical Pharmacy, Purdue University

Cenk Undey, PhD, Executive Director, Process Development, Amgen

Renaud Vincentelli, PhD, Head, High-Throughput Protein Production, Structural Biology Core, Architecture et Fonction des Macromolécules Biologiques (AFMB), UMR, CNRS – Aix-Marseille University

Gerhard Winter, PhD, Professor, Chair, Pharmaceutical Technology and Biopharmaceutics, LMU Munchen

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