ICMS2019 Boston, USA - Advisory Board and Speakers - Sophion

Advisory board and speakers

Advisory board

Dr Derek Bowie

Dr Derek Bowie is the Director of the FRQS-funded research group, GEPROM, and has been a Professor at McGill University since 2002. He is the recipient of the Canada Research Chair award in Receptor Pharmacology and serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Physiology, Current neuropharmacology and Channels. Dr Bowie earned his PhD at the University of London after completing his undergraduate degree at Strathclyde University in Scotland. He then carried out postdoctoral training in France (Université Louis Pasteur), Switzerland (University of Zurich) and the USA (National Institutes of Health) before holding a faculty position at Emory University in Atlanta. The Bowie lab focuses on the structure-function properties of ionotropic glutamate receptors, GABA-A receptors and sodium channels as well as examining their role in neuronal circuit behaviour.


Professor Diane Lipscombe

Diane Lipscombe is Director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science and Professor of Neuroscience. Diane Lipscombe has studied voltage-gated calcium ion channels — their function, pharmacology and modulation — for over 30 years. The lab has shown how cell-specific control of ion channel composition through RNA splicing impacts animal behavior and drug sensitivity. Lipscombe has also demonstrated the impact on channel function of rare mutations in calcium ion channel genes associated with disease in humans and, is involved in a collaborative effort to identify gene suppressors of animal models of familial Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.


Dr. Andrew R. Marks

Andrew R. Marks, MD received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College where he was the first student in the history of the college to graduate with honors in two subjects (Biology and English), and his MD from Harvard Medical School. Following an internship and residency in internal medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), he was a post-doctoral fellow in molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School, and then a clinical cardiology fellow at the MGH. He is board certified in internal medicine and in cardiology. Dr. Marks is Chair and Professor of the Physiology and Cellular Biophysics Department at Columbia University. From 2002-2007 Dr. Marks was Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. His honors include: ASCI, AAP, the National Academy of Medicine (2004), American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2005) and the National Academy of Sciences (2005). Doctor of Science Honoris Causa from Amherst College (2009), Docteur Honoris causa, de l’Université de Montpellier (2016), the ASCI Stanley J. Korsmeyer Award (2010), the Pasarow Foundation Award for Cardiovascular Research (2011) and the Ellison Medical Foundation Senior Scholar in Aging Award (2011), Glorney-Raisbeck Award from NY Academy of Medicine (2016). In 2015 Dr. Marks was chosen to present the Ulf von Euler lecture at the Karolinska Institute. Dr. Marks’ identification of the mechanism of action of rapamycin’s inhibition of vascular smooth muscle proliferation and migration lead to the development of the first drug-eluting stent (coated with rapamycin) for treatment of coronary artery disease. This substantially reduced the incidence of in-stent restenosis. In 2014 Dr. Marks reported the high-resolution structure of the mammalian type 1 ryanodine receptor/calcium release channel (required for excitation-contraction coupling in skeletal muscle) which he had cloned and worked on since 1989. His research has contributed new understandings of fundamental mechanisms that control muscle contraction, heart function, lymphocyte activation, and cognitive function. He discovered that “leaky” intracellular calcium release channels (ryanodine receptors) contribute to heart failure, fatal cardiac arrhythmias, impaired exercise capacity in muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Alzheimer’s Disease. Dr. Marks discovered a new class of small molecules (Rycals), developed in his laboratory, that target leaky ryanodine receptor channels and effectively treat cardiac arrhythmias, heart failure, muscular dystrophy and prevent stress-induced cognitive dysfunction and symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease in pre-clinical studies. Rycals are now in clinical trials for the treatment of heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias and entering clinical trials for the treatment of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.


John Dunlop

John joined Amgen in September 2016 and leads the neuroscience research program responsible for therapeutic discovery activities in neurodegenerative diseases, pain and migraine. Prior to Amgen he was leading neuroscience discovery and early development at AstraZeneca and previously held executive leadership roles in the neuroscience therapeutic area at Wyeth and Pfizer. Trained as a neuropharmacologist, John’s research interests include the role of protein quality control mechanisms, innate immunity and mitochondrial dysfunction in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease and ALS. John was recently appointed to the HEAL (Helping End Addiction Long term) Partnership Committee, an NIH advisory committee established to support NIH initiatives launched to address the nation’s opioid crisis. He is a board member of Target-ALS, a non-profit enterprise dedicated to accelerating drug discovery and development in ALS and a board observer of SiteOne Therapeutics, a biotech company focused on developing novel non-opioid pain therapeutics.



Geoffrey W Abbott

Dr Geoffrey W. Abbott earned his PhD in Biochemistry from University of London in 1997, after which he pursued his postdoctoral studies on ion channel function and disease at Yale University, supported by a Wellcome Trust Fellowship.  He was made a tenured full professor at Well Cornell Medical School in 2011 after ten years on the faculty, and soon afterwards moved to take up his present position as Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at University of California, Irvine.  Funded by multiple NIH institutes, Dr Abbott currently studies voltage-gated potassium channels, especially their interaction with and modulation by ancillary subunits, solute transporters, neurotransmitters, metabolites and new and ancient medicines.


Isabelle Baconguis

Dr Baconguis received her BA in Biochemistry at University of Penn in 2005, and in 2007, joined the OHSU Neuroscience Graduate Program. During her doctoral research at the Vollum Institute, she studied acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs), members of the superfamily of amiloride-sensitive and Na+-selective trimeric ion channels. Using a combination of x-ray crystallography and electrophysiology, she exploited toxin-dependent modulation of ASIC function to elaborate molecular mechanisms of gating, selectivity and ion channel block. A recipient of the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award, Dr Baconguis skipped postdoctoral training and moved immediately into an independent position as the inaugural Vollum Fellow at the Vollum Institute in 2013, and was promoted to Assistant Scientist in 2016. With access to state-of-the-art electron microscopy core at OHSU, Dr Baconguis’ lab is unravelling the molecular underpinnings of whole-body salt balance to better understand diseases such as hypertension. Using the powerful technique of cryo-electron microscopy, scientists in the Baconguis lab were the first to resolve the structure of the epithelial sodium channel, an ion channel that is vital to the human body’s regulation of sodium ion concentration.


Yonghong Bai

Yonghong Bai completed his undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering at Zhejiang University in 2007. He next pursued graduate research on biophysical characterization of the CFTR chloride channel under the guidance of Professor Tzyh-Chang Hwang at University of Missouri-Columbia. After earning his PhD degree in 2012, he took a postdoctoral position in the laboratory of Professor Ming Zhou, first at Columbia University and then at Baylor College of Medicine. During his postdoctoral training, he focused on structural and functional studies of an integral membrane enzyme called stearoyl-coenzyme A desaturase (SCD). He started at Amgen in October 2015, and as of 2019, he is a senior scientist at the department of molecular engineering at Amgen in Cambridge, MA. Adopting cutting-edge techniques such as cryo-EM and nanodiscs, his work at Amgen is aimed at structure-based drug design on diverse therapeutic targets including membrane proteins and large protein complexes.


Bruce Bean

Bruce Bean is Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. His research interest is in the physiological function and pharmacology of ion channels in mammalian neurons, with a goal of helping discover new treatments for disorders involving altered neuronal excitability, including epilepsy and pain.



Jonathan B Cohen

Jonathan B. Cohen is Professor of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School. He received a PhD in Physical Chemistry (Harvard University, 1972) for microwave spectroscopic studies of atom-dipole interactions in gases, and he then initiated biochemical and biophysical studies of the structure and function of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) as a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Jean-Pierre Changeux (Pasteur Institute, Paris, 1971-1974). Since then, as a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School (1975-1982, 1992-) and at Washington University (1982-1992), his research has focused on the structure and mechanisms of allosteric regulation of nAChRs and GABAA receptors (GABAARs) and on the protein interactions necessary to cluster nAChRs in post-synaptic membranes.

Over the past 20 years, his lab has pioneered the development of increasingly sensitive protein chemistry techniques to use photoaffinity labeling to identify in nAChRs the binding sites for agonists and competitive antagonists, channel blockers, and allosteric modulators. Recently, his lab has extended these techniques, in conjunction with homology modeling and computational docking, to provide a first identification of two classes of general anaesthetic binding sites in GABAARs. His lab is now extending these studies by using novel photoreactive general anaesthetic and neuroactive steroid analogs to define the location and pharmacological specifity of novel binding sites for GABAAR positive and negative allosteric modulators.


Paul Colussi

Paul has spent over 19 years in the biotech sector focusing on the development and application of recombinant protein platforms. Paul joined New England Biolabs in December of 2000 to work on developing the K. lactis yeast expression platform as well as supporting its release to the scientific community in the summer of 2005. In 2008 Paul was recruited to TetraGenetics to lead the development of the Tetrahymena thermophila expression platform and in particular its use in generating high-yields of correctly folded membrane proteins-specifically recombinant human ion channels. Since then Paul has led multiple programs with large pharma and biotech strategic partners to generate historically intractable proteins to support drug discovery programs. In recent years Paul has established TetraGenetics’ proprietary drug pipeline focused on the discovery and development of mAbs targeting therapeutically important ion channels. Paul received his Bachelor of Science degree (Hons) from the University of Sydney before doing his PhD at the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign.


Saviero Gentile

Dr Saverio Gentile is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He is interested in understanding the role of ion channels in cancer biology. Dr Gentile’s group has brought to light several important functions regarding potassium channels activity that controls a variety of cancer markers including proliferation, metastasis and metabolism. These works have also revealed that potassium channels can be pharmacologically targeted to develop a safe and efficient therapeutic strategy against currently untreatable breast or ovarian cancers.



Alfred George

Dr George is the Magerstadt Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology, and Director of the Center for Pharmacogenomics at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He has been a pioneer in elucidating the genetics and pathogenesis of channelopathies with a focus on genetic disorders caused by voltage-gated ion channel mutations associated with disorders of membrane excitability including cardiac arrhythmia syndromes and epilepsy.


Anne Greka

Anna Greka is a physician-scientist leading the translation of scientific discoveries from the laboratory to clinical trials. She is an Associate Professor at Harvard Medical School (HMS); an Associate Physician in the Renal Division in the Department of Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH); and the founding director of Kidney-NExT, a Center for Kidney Disease and Novel Experimental Therapeutics at BWH. Dr Greka is also an Institute Member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she directs the institute’s Kidney Disease Initiative (KDI) and the ion channel therapeutics interest group (CHAnnel Therapeutics, CHArT).
The Greka laboratory specializes in the development of precision therapies for difficult-to-treat diseases with a special interest in genetically defined disorders. Specifically, her lab studies mechanisms of cell survival and metabolic regulation, including calcium signaling and transient receptor potential (TRP) ion channel biology.
The Greka laboratory is also interested in using the modern tools of genomics and other multi-omic approaches to understand disease mechanisms, including mechanisms of disrupted cellular metabolism, with important connections to obesity and diabetes.
Finally, the study of ion channel biology remains an active area of investigation, with a special focus on harnessing the considerable therapeutic potential of ion channels for a wide range of diseases, from kidney to neurologic disorders.
Dr Greka has been the recipient of several honors, including the 2018 Seldin-Smith Award for Pioneering Research from the American Society of Clinical Investigation (ASCI), a 2017 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), and a 2014 Top 10 Exceptional Research Award from the Clinical Research Council. She also serves on the Harvard-MIT M.D.-Ph.D. Program Leadership Council.
Dr Greka holds an A.B. in biology from Harvard College and an M.D. and PhD in neurobiology from HMS. She received her medical and scientific training in the Harvard-MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology (HST) in the laboratory of David Clapham, MD, PhD, where, as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) predoctoral fellow, she explored the role of TRP channels in neuronal growth cone motility.


Len Kaczmarek

Len Kaczmarek is a Professor of Pharmacology and Cellular and Molecular Physiology at Yale University School of Medicine. He carried out his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of London and carried out research at the University of California at Los Angeles, the Free University of Brussels, Belgium and the California Institute of Technology before joining the Yale faculty in 1981. He served as Chairman of the Yale Department of Pharmacology from 1989 to 1998. Professor Kaczmarek’s laboratory investigates the biological role of potassium channels, as well as other classes of ion channels, in neuronal function. He is currently investigating the way mutations in these proteins in humans are responsible for several forms of intellectual disability and autism. Much of his work focused on the Kv3 family of potassium channels, which are found predominantly in neurons capable of firing at high rates. His laboratory cloned and characterize the Kv3.1b channel and described its modulation in intact animals. They have also recently found that the Kv3.3 channel directly regulates both cell death and the cortical actin cytoskeleton by binding the pro-survival protein Hax-1. In addition, the Kaczmarek laboratory cloned the genes for the Slack and Slick channels (KCNT1 and KCNT2) that underlie Na+-activated K+ channels (KNa channels). They found that the Slack protein interacts with the Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein (FMRP) as well as other cytoplasmic signaling molecules. Moreover, they characterized a variety of human mutations in these channels that lead to childhood seizures coupled to very severe intellectual disability. Dr Kaczmarek has authored or edited several books and is co-author of the textbook “The Neuron”.


Amy Lee

Dr Amy Lee is Professor of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Assistant Dean for Research of the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa. Her research focuses on the functions and regulation of voltage-gated Ca2+ Cav channels, particularly with respect to ribbon synapses of the retina and inner ear. She and her group have led discoveries regarding the mechanisms that fine-tune Ca2+-dependent modulation of CaV channels, and the importance of such mechanisms for synaptic function. She has served as a Council member and Chair of the Exocytosis/Endocytosis subgroup of the Biophysical Society, and as a member of the editorial board of Molecular Pharmacology, Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Journal of General Physiology.


Ellen A Lumpkin

Ellen A. Lumpkin is a Professor of Cell & Developmental Biology the University of California, Berkeley in the Department of Molecular & Cellular Biology and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute. She is also an Adjunct Associate Professor of physiology & cellular biophysics, an Affiliate Investigator in the Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, and Co-Director of the Thompson Family Foundation Initiative in Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy & Sensory Neuroscience at ColumbiaUniversity. Lumpkin’s research focuses on molecules, cells and neural signals that give rise to skin sensations such as touch, pain and itch. Dr Lumpkin earned her BS in Animal Science from Texas Tech University and performed her PhD training in neuroscience with Dr A. James Hudspeth at UT Southwestern Medical Center and The Rockefeller University. She completed her postdoctoral training in physiology & biophysics with Dr.Jonathon Howardat the University of Washington.


Owen McManus

Owen McManus, Ph.D., is a drug discovery scientist with extensive experience in drug discovery, electrophysiology, and technology development. He worked for over twenty years at Merck Research labs where he led basic research teams at multiple discovery stages including target identification and validation, assay development, lead identification and optimization. These teams produced a number of clinical candidate compounds in multiple therapeutic areas. He was also Director of Operations at the Johns Hopkins Ion Channel Center, which provided HTS screening and lead optimization for ion channel and transporter targets for the academic community through the NIH Molecular Libraries program. He also worked as Director, Ion Channel Screening and Drug Discovery at Essen Bioscience, a leading instrument development company. At both Essen and Merck, he worked on development of novel instrumentation and technologies to support drug discovery, which has led to several marketed products. He is currently Chief Technology Officer at Q-State Biosciences working to advance Q-State technologies in drug discovery efforts.


Vera Moiseenkova-Bell

Dr Moiseenkova-Bell is a membrane protein biochemist and a structural biologist with expertise in cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). Her research is focused on structure-function analysis of Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) channels and their interaction with agonists/antagonists to enhance our understanding of their function at the molecular level. In addition, her laboratory research program seeks to understand how TRP channels regulate cellular functions and the role of their dysregulation in human disease.

After obtaining an M.S. degree in Physics from Moscow State University in 1999, Dr Moiseenkova-Bell switched to a biological research area and received PhD in Cellular Physiology & Molecular Biophysics from the University of Texas Medical Branch in 2004. During her graduate work, she was the first to develop a methodology for overexpression and purification of functional TRP channels for structural studies. As a postdoctoral fellow, Dr Moiseenkova-Bell continued her work on TRP channels at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM). During her training at BCM, she was the first researcher to solve and report the structure of a TRPV1 channel using cryo-EM. Because of this achievement, she received the Ruth McLean Bowman Bowers Excellence in Research Award from BCM. In 2009, Dr Moiseenkova-Bell joined Department of Pharmacology at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) as a tenure-track Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2016. Dr Moiseenkova-Bell moved to University of Pennsylvania in 2018, where she is continuing her work on understanding molecular mechanisms of TRP channel activation, inhibition and desensitization using cryo-EM at the Department of Systems Pharmacology and Translational Therapeutics. She is also a Faculty Director of the Beckman Center for Cryo-EM and Electron Microscopy Resource Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania.

In the past ten years, Dr Moiseenkova-Bell established herself as an independent scientist and as an expert in the field of TRP channels, focused on structural and functional analysis. She has published papers in Journal of Biological Chemistry, Journal of General Physiology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Structure, Nature Communications, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. She has given numerous invited seminars and presentations both at the national and international levels. Dr Moiseenkova-Bell has secured funding for her research from American Lung Association, American Heart Association, Mt. Sinai Foundation, Pfizer and NIH.


Bryan Moyer

Bryan Moyer, Ph.D., is a Scientific Director in the Neuroscience Department at Amgen. Dr Moyer leads drug discovery teams to identify novel therapeutics for pain and migraine and functions as the head of the Neuroscience electrophysiology group. He has a strong background in voltage- and ligand-gated ion channel molecular/cellular biology, functional expression, pharmacology, screening, drug discovery and translational models of disease. Dr Moyer’s research leverages diverse therapeutic modalities including small molecules, peptide and antibodies to identify transformational medicines for patients. Prior to his position at Amgen, he was Associate Director, Ion Channel Biology at Senomyx, where he was responsible for the discovery, cloning, expression, and screening of novel ion channels expressed in taste receptor cells. Dr Moyer received his PhD in Physiology from Dartmouth Medical School and did post-doctoral work at the Scripps Research Institute where he studied wild-type and mutant CFTR trafficking and function in polarized epithelial cells in models of cystic fibrosis.


Yasushi Okamura

Yasushi Okamura graduated from School of Medicine at University of Tokyo and obtained a license of medical doctor in 1985, and then went to the Graduate School of Medicine (PhD degree at University of Tokyo in 1989 on the theme of electrophysiology of voltage-gated ion channels). After learning molecular biology as a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr Gail Mandel (currently, professor of Vollum Institute) at State University of New York at Stony Brook until 1990, he came back to University of Tokyo as the lecturer to work on developmental regulation of ion channel expression until 1995. He then moved to the National Institute of Bioscience and Human-technology as the senior researcher and group leader in 1995. In 2001, he became a professor at Okazaki Institute for Integrative Bioscience where he pioneered a new research field of voltage-evoked cell signals through serendipitously discovered membrane proteins that have voltage sensor domains but not authentic pore domain. Since 2008, he has been a professor at Osaka University. His group has been working mainly on two membrane proteins. Voltage-gated proton channel, Hv1, is widely conserved from marine plankton to human, and expressed in immune cells, airway cells and sperm in human. It has the voltage sensor domain but lacks authentic pore domain. Hv1 is dimeric and each subunit has intrinsic proton-permeation pore. Voltage-sensing phosphatase, VSP, is not an ion channel but a hybrid protein consisting of the voltage sensor domain and PTEN-like phosphoinositide phosphatase. Motion of single voltage sensor is coupled with the intrinsic PTEN-like enzyme to rapidly alter profiles of several species of phosphoinositides. Okamura’s group has been studying molecular mechanisms of these proteins by combining electrophysiology, voltage-clamp fluorometry, mathematical approach and genetic incorporation of fluorescent unnatural amino acid. They also aim to clarify novel cellular voltage signals both through studying knockout mice of these proteins.


Toshihisa Osaki

Toshihisa Osaki received his PhD degree in Organic and Polymeric Materials in 2002 from Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. He worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research, Dresden, Germany (2002–2006), National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan (2006–2007), and at LIMMS/CNRS-IIS, The University of Tokyo (2007–2009). Currently, he is working at Kanagawa Institute of Industrial Science and Technology as a project assistant leader, concurrently serving as a project assistant professor at Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo. His research has focused on the development of artificial cell membrane platforms for functional analyses of ion channels with a single-molecule level.


Anjali Rajadhyaksha

Anjali Rajadhyaksha, PhD, is associate professor of neuroscience at Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and Brain and Mind Research Institute, Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University in New York City, New York. Her research focuses on deciphering the molecular mechanisms underlying addiction- and neuropsychiatric-related behaviors, with a particular focus on L-type Ca2+ channels.
Dr Rajadhyaksha received her undergraduate training in chemistry at Bombay University, India and obtained her PhD degree in molecular biology from Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana. She then completed her postdoctoral training in neuroscience at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and thereafter joined Weill Cornell Medicine as a faculty member.