Insights into Singapore’s Innovation and Enterprise Ecosystem
By Mr. Philip Lim
ETPL is the commercialisation arm of A*STAR – Singapore’s lead agency for science and research and development, which engages the industry to drive innovation and advance technology for economic and social impact. ETPL aims to be the one-stop coinnovation partner of choice to grow businesses in Singapore and beyond through translating inventions and intellectual capital into marketable products, processes and services. In his talk, Philip will speak more on the progress and developments of Singapore’s innovation and enterprise ecosystem. We would also share ideas and insights on growing the local ecosystem, and how to leverage the ecosystem to achieve commercialisation success.
Overview of Asia Pacific Innovation Ecosystem
By Mr. Dong Wu
Asia Pacific is a global technology powerhouse with rapidly growing capabilities in life science research, development, and commercialisation. The Asia Pacific Innovation Center, under the Johnson & Johnson Innovation umbrella of businesses, plays a key role in identifying and nurturing innovation in the region with the aim of accelerating early-stage solutions that address the world’s most pressing healthcare needs. Dong Wu, Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s Shanghai-based Asia Pacific Innovation Center, will provide an overview of the business’ open innovation strategy and discuss how current innovation and entrepreneurship are paving the way for Asia Pacific to become the next global hotspot for life science innovation.
Catalyzing Innovation to deliver Transformational Solutions to people globally
By Ms. Melinda Richter
Advances in science and technology make it possible to deliver transformational products that can help patients live longer, more productive lives. Unfortunately, many great healthcare ideas never get to see the light of day. How do we solve this problem? What sort of global ecosystem must be in place for innovation to succeed, and what does it take to play in that ecosystem? Hear from Melinda Richter, Global Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS, what important pieces are necessary to make the global innovation ecosystem successful for entrepreneurs to deliver much needed solutions to patients.
Building bridges within & across Ecosystems – The Eureka Institute Experience
By Professor Salvatore Albani
The Eureka Institute for Translational Medicine is a non for profit foundation whose mission is to develop translational medicine in order to harness technologies and develop knowledge and competences to ultimately address unmet medical needs, and whose vision is to build and foster a global community of translational medicine professionals sharing its mission for the tangible benefit of patients and society as a whole. Eureka will achieve its mission by catalysing and integrating education, research and policy making in an international Translational Medicine Ecosystem which must be impactful for Society. In this talk, we will discuss the importance of creating local ecosystems which are integrated into a global Network, and discuss our experience and future plans.
Challenges & Opportunities in the Commercialisation of Academic Science
By Dr. Juan Carlos López
For the past few years, there has been a strong drive to commercialise the discoveries that emerge from academic institutions. In a relatively short time, investors and Pharma companies have explored a large number of models looking for the best way to interact with academia. At the same time, governments have become more active in this space, promoting the creation of biotech ecosystems as engines of economic development, but many challenges remain.
In this talk, I review the current state of play in this field, the obstacles that prevent progress, and possible ways in which the relationship between academia and investors can be optimised.
G protein-coupled receptors: new targets for leukemia stem cell eradication
By Dr. Jenny Wang
While G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) represent one of the most successful and important drug targets – approximately 36% of currently marketed drugs target human GPCRs, their role in cancer stem cells has only begun to be appreciated. We have recently reported an essential role for G protein-coupled receptor 84 (GPR84) in regulating oncogenic β-catenin signaling and in maintaining leukemia stem cell properties in acute myeloid leukemia (a lethal blood cancer); inhibibtion of GPR84/β-catenin signaling impairs leukemia stem cell self-renewal, underlining its therapeutic value in developing novel targeted therapies for AML treatment.
A research translation journey, and inviting others along for the ride
By Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger
Our development of a molecular pharmacology profiling platform, including the proprietary ‘Receptor-HIT’, is providing an engine for discovering new, and repurposing old, pharmaceuticals and combinations thereof, recently validated by successful Phase 2a clinical trial results. Furthermore, having travelled the path of translating research out of an academic setting for over a decade, I am now leading ‘Accelerating Australia’, a national consortium helping others to do the same.
Application of high-throughput functional genomics in cancer drug-target discovery
By Associate Professor Wensheng Wei
We have developed a series of CRISPR-based screening technical platforms which could be applied for novel cancer drug-target discovery. These include: 1) genome-wide functional screen of coding genes; 2) genome-wide functional screen of lncRNAs; 3) pgRNA library for large-fragment deletion screening and synthetic lethality gene-pair identification; 4) novel method for the mapping of functional domain with single amino acid resolution – this method could also identify all potential amino acids whose mutations confer cancer drug resistance; and 5) novel barcoding system for much improved CRISPR/Cas9 screening — this new design has dropped the screening cost over 20 times, with much improved efficiency.
Using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells and neural organoids to understand neurodegeneration
By Dr. Shi-Yan Ng
Age-onset neurodegeneration is one of the top causes of death globally in 2015 (World Health Organization). Using an established stem cell-based system to model Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, we show that metabolic dysfunctions in the diseased motor neurons can be partially corrected by a small molecule.
Biodegradable Polymer Nanoparticles for Molecular Imaging
By Dr. Kanyi Pu
The convergence of medicine and nanotechnology has been providing new opportunities to better understand fundamental biology, monitor health, perform diagnosis and treat diseases. Semiconducting polymer nanoparticles (SPNs) transformed from optically and electrically active polymers have emerged as a new class of optical nanomaterials. As those polymers are completely organic and biologically inert, SPNs essentially circumvent the issue of heavy metal ion-induced toxicity to living organisms, possessing good biocompatibility. In this talk, I will present a new kind of biodegradable SPNs for ultrasensitive molecular imaging. The potential clinical applications of these SPNs will be discussed in imaging-guided surgery including lymph node mapping and tumor imaging. In addition, these nanoparticles can be developed into useful tools for real-time in vivo evaluation of drug-induced hepatotoxicity, a long-standing concern of modern medicine.
A Novel Approach for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
By Dr. Nam Hoon Kwon
Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a rare disease with a 3-year survival rate of about 50%. Chronic inflammation due to immune cell infiltration is known as an initiation events in most of fibrosis-related diseases such as PAH, but there is no treatment to eliminate the root cause of PAH. Here we suggest a novel approach for PAH, which can modulate monocytes/macrophages infiltration into damaged tissue. We identified an aminoacyl-tRNA synthetase which has a crucial role in the infiltration of monocytes/macrophages and are developing compounds and monoclonal antibodies that inhibit the target protein. Our antibody significantly reduced PAH symptoms in vivo without toxicity. We expect that our novel approach can be an effective treatment for PAH meeting the unmet need.
Dr. Andrew Marshall
Dr. Andrew Marshall has been Chief Editor of Nature Biotechnology since 2000. Since that time, the journal’s impact factor has increased from 11.0 to 43.1. It is currently among the top 10 primary research journals in the world. As well as frequently speaking on biotechnology issues at international meetings, he also regularly heads and organises conferences and symposia for the journal. He has over 24 years of experience in scientific publishing, and was previously Editor of Current Opinion in Biotechnology from 1992 to 1996. He has written over 150 articles and editorials on science and technology for the popular media, including The Economist and Popular Science, and for trade publications. In 2003, he launched Bioentrepreneur (www.nature.com/bioent), a free web portal that provides didactic information and advice to aspiring entrepreneurs seeking to start biotech companies. He also runs a series of networking events (SciCafes) in Boston, New York, San Francisco, San Diego, Houston, London and Singapore to promote pioneering translational work by junior faculty. He is currently a Voluntary Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Miami. He obtained his PhD and postdoctoral experience in molecular biology and microbiology at King’s College London and is the recipient of the Helen White Prize.
Dr Benjamin Seet
Dr Benjamin Seet joined A*STAR in 2011 and assumed the position of Executive Director, Biomedical Research Council a year later. He currently oversees the council’s 10 research institutes which engage in scientific and translational research & development that span the pharmaceutical, medical technology, food & nutrition, and consumer care industries.
Prior to joining A*STAR, Dr Seet served in the Singapore Armed Forces for over 20 years before retiring as the Chief of the SAF Medical Corps as a Brigadier General. Dr Seet also served as Chief Medical Officer of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations in New York, where he oversaw medical support for UN personnel in 16 post-conflict countries.
Dr Seet has served on various boards and advisory committees, including for the Ministry of Health, National Medical Research Council, Health Promotion Board, Agri-food and Veterinary Authority, Nanyang Technological University, and Singapore Technologies Engineering.
Dr Seet graduated with a Bachelor in Medicine and Surgery, and Master of Medicine in Ophthalmology from the National University of Singapore. He was a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, and holds a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. Dong Wu
Mr. Dong Wu is the Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Asia Pacific. Dong joined the Innovation team from Johnson & Johnson’s Consumer business where he was Vice President of R&D, responsible for the Global Engineering Organization and leading the transformation of the emerging markets R&D groups. Dong joined Johnson & Johnson as the Head of Emerging Markets R&D where he focused on developing personal care products for emerging markets. Dong facilitated programs aimed at developing high value products and driving a culture of innovation. Dong has a Bachelor of Science degree from Fudan University and a MBA from China Europe International Business School.
Dr. Juan Carlos López
Juan Carlos López is Founder of Haystack Science, a firm focused on connecting up-and-coming scientists working in novel research areas with knowledgeable investors interested in developing valuable advances in biomedicine. A native of Oaxaca, Mexico, Juan Carlos obtained his B.S. degree at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, majoring in neuroscience. He got his Ph.D. degree from Columbia University (New York), working in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, and carried out postdoctoral research at the Instituto Cajal (Madrid). In 2000, Juan Carlos helped launch and became Chief Editor of Nature Reviews Neuroscience in London. Four years later, he returned to New York as Chief Editor of the prestigious journal Nature Medicine. In 2014, Juan Carlos joined Hoffmann-La Roche as Global Head of Academic Relations and Collaborations, leading a team in charge of fostering scientific interactions between the company and academic institutions worldwide. Juan Carlos has served on the Boards of multiple biotechnology and non-profit organisations, most recently on the Board of Directors of Keystone Symposia.
Ms. Melinda Richter
As Global Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS, Melinda Richter fosters the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies external R&D engine and supports the innovation community by creating capital-efficient commercialisation models that give early stage companies a big company advantage. By providing infrastructure, services, educational programs and networks in global hotspots, JLABS is the best place to start a biotech company.
Prior to joining JLABS, Melinda was Founder and CEO of Prescience International, an award-winning firm dedicated to accelerating research to the patient. Melinda founded Prescience after she had a medical emergency that left her questioning the efficiency and efficacy of the healthcare system. With the tenacity and resolve of a patient looking for a better solution, she set out to create a better model, which now forms the basis for JLABS’ operational infrastructure. Prior to starting Prescience, Melinda held posts across a variety of functional areas with a global corporation, Nortel Networks, in locations such as Research Triangle Park, New York, Toronto, London, Hong Kong and Beijing before arriving in San Francisco. She also initiated, raised capital and secured large corporate deals for several companies in both the life science and technology space. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and a MBA from INSEAD in France. Melinda is an active board member and Treasurer of the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA).
Mr. Philip Lim
Mr. Philip Lim is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Exploit Technologies (ETPL), which manages all A*STAR intellectual properties through to commercialisation. He has led the company in performance outcomes that exceeded world benchmarks especially in licensing agreements and start-ups formed. He was also instrumental in introducing several innovation and productisation initiatives such as the Diagnostics Development Hub and the A*START Central Incubation. These brought new impact to the innovation and enterprise ecosystem on collaboration and joint programmes. These are aimed at building long term value to innovative enterprises in Singapore. Under his leadership, ETPL concluded over 1,200 license agreements mostly with local companies. A*STAR’s startup raised over $100m collectively.
Mr Philip Lim currently sits on the boards of IP Academy and CommonTown Pte Ltd.
Mr. Philip Lim spent 20 years with the Ministry of Defence (MINDEF). In his last appointment as Brigadier General/Head Joint Logistics, he was the leading senior specialist on logistics and engineering matters to the Chief of Defence Force. Prior to this, he was Chief of Logistics in the Army, where he led the operations and development of Army logistics, engineering and maintenance functions.
He received his MBA from the National University of Singapore in 2008 and holds a Master of Science from Cranfield Institute of Technology in the UK. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Hons) from the National University of Singapore.
In recognition of his significant contributions to the SAF, Mr. Philip Lim was awarded the Commendation Medal (Military) in 1995 and the Public Administration Medal, Silver (Military) in 2004.
Professor Salvatore Albani
Professor Salvatore Albani, Professor at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore, Director of the SingHealth Translational Immunology & Inflammation Centre, and Senior Clinical Scientist with the Paediatrics Academic Clinical Program. Professor Albani is an internationally renowned rheumatologist and immunologist. His fundamental research interest is in understanding human immunity and contributing the knowledge to therapeutic and diagnostic advancements. He developed several innovative approaches in the area of induction and maintenance of immune tolerance in humans, being responsible for the whole translational process from idea to conclusion of Phase II clinical trial in autoimmune inflammatory diseases, which have a large impact on society and individuals. This translational research itinerary has been the original backbone of his career, as witnessed by a rich publication trail (among others Nature Medicine, Lancet, JCI, PNAS, Nature Rheumatology, A&R, ARD, etc) and by approximately 100 patents, disclosures and applications.
Dr. Jenny Wang
Dr Jenny Wang is Head of the Cancer and Stem Cell Laboratory at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. She returned to Australia in 2011 from Harvard Medical School, where she undertook postdoctoral research in Leukemia Stem Cell Biology (2005-2011). The main research focus in Dr Wang’s Laboratory is to develop novel therapeutic strategies specifically targeting leukemia stem cells that are often resistant to commonly used cancer therapies and that are now believed to be the engine driving the growth of a tumour and the root cause for treatment failure and relapse in leukemia with poor outcome.
Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger
Associate Professor Kevin Pfleger is Head of Molecular Endocrinology and Pharmacology at the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research (‘Perkins’) and Centre for Medical Research, The University of Western Australia (UWA). He is a National Health and Medical Research Council RD Wright Biomedical Research Fellow (Level 2), as well as being Chief Scientific Advisor of ASX-listed Dimerix Limited, a spin-out company from the Perkins and UWA that has recently announced successful Phase 2a clinical trial results. He was Chief Scientific Officer of Dimerix Bioscience Pty Ltd from 2008-2014. A/Prof Pfleger is Chair of the Executive Committee of Accelerating Australia, a life sciences consortium working to advance the biomedical innovation ecosystem across Australia, supported by the MedTech and Pharma Growth Centre (MTPConnect). He is also Chair of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists Scientific Advisory Committee, member of the International Advisory Group of the British Pharmacological Society, member of the Western Australian State Committee of AusBiotech, and member of the Western Australian Health Translation Network (WAHTN) Management Committee.
Dr. Kanyi Pu
Dr. Kanyi Pu has been an Associate Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering (SCBE) at Nanyang Technological University since June 2015. He did his MS (2007) with Professor Wei Huang (CAS member) at Fudan University in China. He then came to Singapore and did his PhD (2011) at National University of Singapore. He moved to Stanford University School of Medicine for his postdoctoral study in 2011, under the supervision of Professor Jianghong Rao and the directorship of Professor Sanjiv Sam Gambhir at the molecular imaging program at Stanford (MIPS). As an active member of MIPS and the Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence and Translation (CCNE-T), he made significant contributions to organic polymer based imaging probes and technologies, such as photoacoustic imaging, chemiluminescence imaging and in vivo imaging of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. Dr. Pu has published more than 70 journal papers, 2 book chapters and 6 patents. With a h-index of 40, his work has been highlighted by many world-renown scientific journals such as Nature Biotechnology, Nature Methods, and Cell Express el al.. He also sits on the Editorial Board of Advanced Biosystems.
Dr. Nam Hoon Kwon
Dr. Nam Hoon Kwon graduated from College of Natural Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine, Seoul National University (Korea). She received her PhD in Veterinary Microbiology from Seoul National University. She worked at the University of Idaho as a visiting scholar from 2005 to 2007. She has been working as a team leader and senior researcher at Medicinal Bioconvergence Research Center (Biocon), Seoul National University from 2011. At Biocon, she investigated disease-related functions of ARSs and became involved in early drug development, such as mechanism study, target validation, assay development and drug screening. She is in charge of Biocon Practical Development Project. At Biocon she has worked in the field of translational machinery focusing on the catalytic and non-catalytic functions of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (ARSs) in diseases for more than 8 years. She published dozens of papers on the mechanism of ARSs and POC of lead compounds in the journals of PNAS, J. Cell Sci., Cell, Top. Curr. Chem., Nat. Chem. Biol., etc. She was awarded “A men of Merit (R&D)” by Korean Ministry of Science in 2013.
Dr. Shi-Yan Ng
Dr. Shi-Yan Ng is a junior Principal Investigator at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) and adjunct Assistant Professor at National University of Singapore (Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine) since October 2015. Her research work centers around using patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and more recently neural organoid technologies to unravel early events in human neurodegeneration that can be therapeutically targeted. Dr. Ng has more than 10 years of experience with human pluripotent stem cells and neuronal differentiation, and has published a number of high impact studies that are highly cited. For her research excellence, Dr. Ng has won the Merck Millipore Young Scientist Award (Third Prize) in 2011 and the A*STAR International Fellowship in 2012. During her postdoctoral training in Professor Lee Rubin’s lab at Harvard University, she was also involved in several collaborations with biotech companies including Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Evotec A.G and Syros Pharmaceuticals. As such, she aims to close the translational gap through her research using patient-derived stem cells.
Associate Professor Wensheng Wei
Associate Professor Wensheng Wei received his bachelor degree of Biochemistry from Peking University, and his Ph.D. degree of Genetics from Michigan State University. He then went to Prof. Stanley Cohen’s lab at Stanford University School of Medicine for post-doctoral training, and became a research associate in 2005. Dr. Wei returned to Peking University in 2007 and became a principle investigator at the School of Life Sciences. He is currently jointly appointed as Investigator by Biodynamic Optical Imaging Center (BIOPIC), Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Genomics (ICG), and Peking-Tsinghua Center for Life Sciences (CLS) at Peking University.
Wei group is mainly focused on the development of eukaryotic genome editing technology, especially their applications in dynamic imaging and high-throughput functional genomics. The combination of forward and reverse genetic means is employed, often in a high-throughput fashion, for the identification of genes or non-coding RNAs important for host response during microbial infections or tumorigenesis. Wei has made major contributions in the establishment of CRISPR-based functional screening techniques for both coding genes (Nature 2014) and lncRNAs (Nature Biotechnology 2016) in human cells. He has been granted four patents. Wei’s honors include China Patent Award, Tan Jiazhen Life Science Award, Scientific Chinese Man of the Year, Zheng Changxue Teaching Award, Bayer Investigator Award, Roche Chinese Young Investigator Award, Peking University Dongbao Fellowship, and the most popular teacher of School of Life Sciences award.