our featured reviewers

Direct feedback and specialist expertise from our community (you!) helps keep Drug Hunter content relevant and high quality. Featured Drug Hunter reviewers who share helpful expert insights, feedback, and commentary are highlighted below, in no particular order. We always appreciate new feedback and thoughts from our readership. If you’d like to participate in reviewing content please let us know here.

Any views expressed on Drug Hunter are not necessarily those of the commentators or reviewers, and any ideas, commentary, or content expressed on Drug Hunter are not those of any commentators or reviewers’ current or past employers.

Dian Su – Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics (DMPK)

Dian Su is a Senior Director, DMPK, at Mersana Therapeutics. Her research focuses on antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs). Previously, Dian was a Principal Scientist in the DMPK department at Genentech. Her research was primarily focused on ADC/small molecule/peptide DMPK areas mainly in the pre-clinical stage. Before joining Genentech in 2012, Dian held a postdoctoral position at the NIH Proteomics Research Resource for Integrative Biology in Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She earned her Ph. D. in Chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis and studied DNA photoproducts and protein-ligand interactions.

Julien Lefranc – Oncology Drug Discovery and Degraders

Julien Lefranc is a Principal Scientist at Merck KGaA in Darmstadt and is a member of the Early Career Advisory Board at ChemMedChem. Julien Lefranc studied chemistry in Marseille and Montpellier. After his master’s degree, Julien moved to the University of Manchester to carry out his PhD with Prof. Jonathan Clayden working on organolithium reactions and in 2012, he moved to Germany for a post-doctoral stay with Prof. Dirk Trauner working natural products synthesis. In 2014, Julien started his industrial career with Bayer in Berlin where he worked on several oncology projects. In 2020, he was promoted to Senior Scientist in Medicinal Chemistry at the Innovation Campus Berlin. He assumed his current position in 2021.

Christian Kuttruff – Respiratory Disease Drug Discovery & Business Development

Christian Kuttruff is currently a Director in Medicinal Chemistry (ad-interim) at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG. He studied chemistry at the Technical University of Munich and completed his Ph.D. in organic chemistry under the supervision of Professor Dirk Trauner at the University of Munich. He did his postdoctoral research with Professor Phil S. Baran at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), focusing on the total synthesis of ingenol. In 2014, he joined Boehringer Ingelheim as a medicinal chemist and worked as a project leader in the areas of respiratory diseases, immune-oncology and immunology. He then moved to BI’s Global Business Development & Licensing department where he was responsible for strategic partnering for the TA Inflammation and NCE Technologies.

Callie Bryan – Immunology & Kinase Drug Discovery

Callie Bryan is a Senior Principal Scientist at Janssen R&D at Spring House, PA. Upon completing her PhD at The Scripps Research Institute with Chi-Huey Wong and post-doctoral studies with Linda Hsieh-Wilson at CalTech, joined Amgen in Medicinal Chemistry where she worked in both the Neuro and Oncology space. Callie joined Genentech in 2012, focusing mainly on Oncology and Immunology and then moved to Janssen R&D at Spring House, PA in January of 2020.

Ron Li – General Medicine

Ron Li is an internal medicine physician and Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine (Hospital Medicine and Biomedical Informatics) at Stanford University School of Medicine.  He is an attending physician on the university teaching service, where he cares for hospitalized patients and trains medical students and residents at Stanford Hospital.  He is also the Medical Informatics Director for Digital Health and AI Clinical Integration at Stanford Health Care, where his work is centered around the design, implementation, and evaluation of novel digitally enabled systems of care delivery.  He received his MD from Northwestern University and completed his residency in internal medicine and fellowship in clinical informatics at Stanford University School of Medicine.  He is Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Clinical Informatics.

Jacob Schwarz – Neuroscience Drug Discovery

Jacob Schwarz has over 20 years of medicinal chemistry experience and has held positions of increasing importance in the Parke-Davis, Pfizer, and Genentech organizations. He is currently Head of Chemistry at ESCAPE Bio, a clinical stage company developing novel, precisely targeted therapies for genetic neurodegenerative diseases. Jake is currently Chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Medicinal Chemistry. He received a PhD from Colorado State University under the guidance of A. I. Meyers, followed by an NIH postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratories of Samuel Danishefsky at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Anthony Vaganos – Commercial

Anthony Vaganos is an experienced US and global commercial leader in oncology, rare disease, and neuroscience therapeutics across the lifecycle inducing business development, early-to-late stage design and decision making, pricing and market access strategy, and launch marketing. Anthony is currently an oncology global marketing director at GSK focused on pivotal trial investment decisions and launch planning. He previously worked at Genentech in commercial functions on multiple franchises including hematology oncology, HER2 breast cancer, neuroscience, and rare disease. Anthony holds an MBA from the Wharton School, a Masters in biotechnology from University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelors from Cornell University.

Adi Murthy – Cell Biology and Cancer Immunology

Aditya Murthy is currently Director of Cell Biology at Interline Therapeutics. His motivation is to leverage the growing catalog of human genetic variation in inflammatory diseases in order to better understand their underlying mechanisms and develop novel therapeutics for chronic diseases. Adi obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in Medical Biophysics, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at Genentech, Inc. There, he investigated the genetics and mechanisms of inflammatory bowel disease. As a group leader in Cancer Immunology at Genentech, Adi’s research focused on translating insights from human genetics of chronic inflammatory diseases to actionable pathways for immuno-oncology (Freund et al. 2020Lim et al. 2019Lim et al. 2020Maculins et al. 2021Samie, et al 2018).

Naomi Rajapaska – Respiratory Disease Drug Discovery

Naomi is a medicinal chemist at Interline with over seven years of experience in structure- and property-based drug design. She started her industrial career at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research in the area of antiviral drug discovery. Prior to Interline, she was a Senior Scientist and team leader at Genentech, where she contributed to the medicinal chemistry efforts on projects in immunology and oncology. Naomi received a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Harvard University under the guidance of Eric Jacobsen, studying asymmetric catalysis and synthesis, and a B.S. in chemistry from Stanford University.

Dennis C. Koester – Infectious and Tropical Disease Drug Discovery

Dennis is a drug hunter at the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR) in Emeryville, CA. His experience as a Medicinal Chemist spans across property-driven as well as target-based drug discovery programs in infectious and tropical diseases. Recently, Dennis helped advance programs on Chagas disease and Malaria as a project team leader. He is driven by contributing to disease areas with extremely high unmet medical need. Dennis obtained his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Göttingen in 2013 specializing in carbohydrate chemistry and transition-metal catalysis. He worked at the University of Kyoto in 2011 and at the University of Münster in 2013. Before starting his career in Global Drug Discovery at Novartis in 2015, he conducted postdoctoral research at Stanford. Dennis had outstanding mentors throughout his career and was fortunate to be a Kekule fellow, a fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt foundation, the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS), and the Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes.   

Bryan McKibben – Medicinal Chemistry

Bryan McKibben has over 20 years of experience as a medicinal chemist.  Bryan started his career in biotech with Cadus Pharmaceuticals which was subsequently bought by OSI Pharmaceuticals.  He later joined Boehringer-Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals and worked in immunology / inflammatory drug discovery.  Currently, Bryan is Project Director (Principal Scientist II) in Drug Discovery at AbbVie where he leads a team of interdisciplinary scientists.  Over his career, Bryan played a key role in advancing multiple compounds into clinical trials.  Bryan was trained as a synthetic organic chemist.  He received a PhD with Professor Tomas Hudlicky at Virginia Tech, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship with Professor Victor Snieckus at the University of Waterloo. 

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