Pre-Conference Workshop Day

Monday, November 16 2020

Workshop A: Cryo-EM and its Applications for Structure-Based Drug Design

10:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is the method for structure determination of biomolecules. In recent years, cryo-EM has revolutionized structural biology by providing unprecedented insights into structure of proteins not amenable to crystallization. The 2017 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded for developing cryo-EM for the high–resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution. In cryo-EM, the beam of high-energy electrons scatters at the specimen embedded in vitreous ice producing images on the detector. The images correspond to the 2-D projections of the vitrified macromolecules. These images are then used for the reconstruction of 3-D structures of the macromolecules using various mathematical algorithms. With recent advances of direct electron detectors, improvements of the microscope optics, and developments in image processing and structure calculation algorithms, it is now possible to obtain structures of macromolecular complexes with local resolution reaching less than 2 Å. These advances allow for the analysis of drug interactions with protein targets and show the strong potential of cryo-EM for structure-based drug design.


Key topics for this workshop will include:

  • Physical basis of cryo-EM
  • Workflows for sample preparation and optimization
  • Methods for microscope alignments and high-resolution data acquisition
  • Algorithms for high-resolution structure determination
  • Applications of cryo-EM to structure-based drug design
  • Challenges for cryo-EM in the process of drug discovery

Workshop Leader:


Arek Kulczyk
Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
Rutgers University






Workshop B: Application of Different Biophysical Techniques to Enable Lead Discovery and Validation

1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

A major challenge in small molecule drug discovery is to identify and validate tractable  lead series compounds that can be further optimized through medicinal chemistry efforts. Join this workshop to understand how to leverage different biophysical tools to enable the steps involved in lead identification, validation and optimization process:

Key topics for this workshop will include:

  • Lead identification: fragments vs conventional HTS or DEL
  • Lead validations: biophysical tools for orthogonal validations
  • Target engagement: biophysical assays for cellular target engagements
  • Drugging the ‘undruggable’: biophysical tools for challenging PPI targets
  • Covalent vs. non-covalent approach: pros and cons

Workshop Leader:

Anup Upadhyay
Principal Research
Scientist I