San Diego science & COVID-19: meet the experts

May 13, 2020 - Heather Dewis

If you’re anything like us (lost your Biology 101 notes, and still don’t know the difference between “mitosis” and “meiosis”), you’ve been Googling a lot of questions about COVID-19. Like…what’s the difference between an antibody and an antigen? And…how close is science to finding a cure, or even a treatment?

On Thursday, May 14, local experts from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Arcturus Therapeutics, and Thermo Fisher Scientific will break down COVID-19 for everyone, whether you lead a scientific research team or you’re more like us. Join our virtual panel to gain a better understanding of COVID-19, and learn what San Diego scientists are doing to help find a long-term solution.

But first, here’s who they are…and how their teams are addressing COVID-19.

Sumit Chanda, Ph.D.

Director and Professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Immunity and Pathogenesis Program

Dr. Sumit Chanda earned his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2001, and received his post-doctoral training at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation (GNF). He subsequently transitioned to a Group Leader position, and established his research group in the Division of Cellular Genomics at GNF. In 2007, he joined the Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute as an Associate Professor. Dr. Chanda also holds an Adjunct Professor appointment at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, as well as a Visiting Scientist position at the Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation.

How the team is addressing COVID-19: Dr. Chanda’s team recently surveyed more than 12,000 existing FDA-approved drugs to find candidates that inhibit COVID-19. Since it can take five to 10 years to bring a new drug to the market, Dr. Chanda’s method, called “drug repositioning”, could help a cocktail of existing therapeutic solutions rapidly reach those infected. His lab has so far identified 30 existing drugs that stop the replication of the virus.

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Joseph E. Payne

President and CEO at Arcturus Therapeutics

Joseph E. Payne, is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Arcturus Therapeutics. He brings with him an exceptional track record of ushering novel therapeutics to the clinic including targeted RNA medicines utilizing lipid-mediated delivery technologies. Joseph’s background includes over 20 years of successful drug discovery experience at Merck Research Labs, DuPont Pharmaceuticals, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Kalypsys, and Nitto as evidenced by over 40 publications and patents, and several investigational new drug (IND) clinical candidates. His academic training includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry, magna cum laude from Brigham Young University, a Master of Science in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from the University of Calgary and Executive Training Certification from MIT Sloan School of Management.

How the team is addressing COVID-19: Arcturus is combining its self-replicating mRNA STARR™ Technology with its LUNAR® RNA medicine delivery technology to develop a vaccine against COVID-19. The combination of these two technologies results in an mRNA vaccine that can be produced more rapidly than conventional vaccines, as well as a significant reduction in the mRNA dose required to elicit a protective immune response. This increase in the duration of antigen expression could potentially yield protection from COVID-19 with a single dose.

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John Stevens

Vice President, IT Life Science Solutions Group at Thermo Fisher Scientific

John Stevens is an accomplished Digital and Information Technology executive with over 25 years of experience. Since March 2019, John has served as the Vice President of IT for the Life Science Solutions Group, APAC & Emerging Markets and China Digital Solutions. Previously, John served as the Vice President of IT for Thermo Fisher Scientific’s Life Sciences Solution and Laboratory Products Groups. In his current role, John has end-to-end accountability for all IT operations globally. John oversees the technology roadmap, delivering key capabilities as part of the enterprise-wide strategy in the areas of Digital & Data Science, eCommerce, Supply Chain, Commercial Sales, Cloud platforms, SaaS technologies, M&A and integration management.

How the team is addressing COVID-19: Thermo Fisher Scientific was among the first firms to receive emergency use authorization by the FDA for its COVID-19 tests. The firm began shipping tests in mid-March, and is now producing five million tests per week.

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Sarah de Crescenzo

Senior editor at Xconomy

Sarah is Xconomy‘s San Diego-based senior editor, covering life sciences and biotech news nationwide, including M&A and financings, clinical trial results and regulatory decisions. Prior to joining the team in 2018, she wrote about startups, tech and finance at the San Diego Business Journal. Her decade of full-time news experience includes coverage of subjects including campaign finance, crime and courts as a reporter and editor at outlets throughout California, including the Orange County Register. She earned a bachelor’s degree in English Literature at UC San Diego, where she wrote for the student newspaper and played collegiate lacrosse. In 2019, she earned an MBA at UC Irvine.

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Register now to reserve your spot at the panel.

Plus – have questions for our panelists? Tweet them to @SDlifechanging using #SDSciencePanel and we’ll consider them for our Q&A.

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