Even with significant COVID-19 restriction, we were able to come together on the 18th of January to showcase the cutting edge science that is part of the Milwaukee Institute for Drug Discovery. The hybrid format enabled online followers of the MIDD to connect via zoom and local scientists to join us in person. The day started with a presentation highlighting a decade of MIDD progress presented by Director Leggy Arnold followed by scientific talks from MIDD members presenting their MIDD supported research projects. This included Prof. David Frick presenting his antiviral work and Prof. Carvan summarizing the vast applications of zebrafish models for safety evaluation. Jessica Silvaggi from the UWM research foundation emphasized the importance of intellectual property and how to work with the foundation in respect to patenting and licensing. Researchers are often unclear if an invention has been made or not.
A highlight were the contributions from graduate students, which prepared seven minute talk that were presented during the lunch break. This included Sepideh Rezvanian describing the synthesis of new treatments for depression disorders and Daniel Webb introducing a next generation of asthma drugs based on GABA(A) receptor ligands.
Ethan Kub from the Mirza Group presented a new approach to identify ceramides expressed in glioblastoma and Jawad Belayet introduced a novel class of HDAC inhibitors for memory enhancement. Finally, Eron Saxon talked about theranostic agents, Yeunus Mian introduced new drugs to treat Schistosoma mansoni infections and Aaron Fleischer presenting his recent behavioral studies to dissect the function of the estrogen receptor in the brain.
In the afternoon, we had more wonderful presentations from Profs. Frick, Peng, Arnold and Mirza. Former MIDD director Douglas Stafford completed the symposium presenting the difficulties and rewards of academic drug discovery research. After two years of limited person-to-person contact we were glad to experience research talks in person following the safety protocol of the university. The responses of participants were very positive and we are looking forward to coming together again in 2023 for the next MIDD symposium.