Advisory board brings world-renowned expertise in GPCR biology and technology, and
drug discovery to Septerna
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – December 19, 2022 – Septerna, a biotechnology company discovering and advancing novel small molecule medicines targeting G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), today announced the establishment of its cross-functional scientific and drug discovery advisory board with seasoned industry drug hunters and leading academic GPCR biology and pharmacology scientists.
“We are excited to welcome these highly accomplished scientists to our scientific and drug discovery advisory board,” said Jeffrey Finer, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Septerna. “They bring a wealth of experience and expertise in GPCR biology and pharmacology, structural biology, drug screening, medicinal chemistry, and pharmaceutical development that complements our internal team and scientific founders. Our Native Complex™ platform is already off to a fast start, driving an early pipeline of differentiated GPCR-targeted candidates, and our advisors’ insights and experience will be invaluable as we continue our momentum with our discovery programs and platform in the years to come.”
Septerna’s new cross-functional scientific and drug discovery advisory board includes its academic co-founders, Robert Lefkowitz, MD, Arthur Christopoulos, BPharm, PhD, and Patrick Sexton, PhD, DSc, who are joined by:
GPCR biology and technology advisors:
- Aashish Manglik, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Manglik’s research focuses on the molecular basis of GPCR signaling, and his expertise spans GPCR structural biology, protein biophysics, molecular pharmacology and protein engineering.
- Bryan Roth, MD, PhD, Michael Hooker Distinguished Professor, Pharmacology and Director of the NIMH Psychoactive Drug Screening Program at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Dr. Roth’s research focuses on all aspects of GPCR structure and function, ranging from atomic-level analysis of ligand-receptor interactions to in vivo studies, and his lab has contributed several new GPCR chemical biology technologies to the field.
- Denise Wootten, PhD, Professor of Drug Discovery Biology and Head, Metabolic Receptor Biology Laboratory at Monash University in Australia. Dr. Wootten’s research focuses on studying class B GPCRs using structural biology, cellular signaling, native tissue bioassays and animal pharmacology models.
- JoAnn Trejo, PhD, MBA, Professor of Pharmacology and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences Faculty Affairs at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Trejo is an expert on GPCR cell signaling in the context of vascular inflammation and cancer and uses cutting-edge imaging technologies, proteomics, biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology and animal model systems.
- Laura Wingler, PhD, Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology at Duke University. Dr. Wingler’s research focuses on studying differential activation of GPCR pathways using multidisciplinary approaches, including biochemistry, biophysics, pharmacology, cell biology and protein engineering.
- Ron Dror, PhD, Associate Professor of Computer Science and, by courtesy, of Structural Biology and of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. Dr. Dror’s research uses molecular simulation and machine learning to elucidate the structure, dynamics, and function of GPCRs and other biomolecules in order to guide the development of more effective medicines.
Drug discovery and pharmaceutical development advisors:
- Craig Lindsley, PhD, William K. Warren, Jr. Chair in Medicine, University Professor of Pharmacology, Chemistry, and Biochemistry, and Director of the Warren Center for Neuroscience Drug Discovery at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Lindsley has more than 20 years of drug discovery experience, including a successful industry career at Merck. He is an expert in allosteric modulation of GPCRs and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.
- David Lacey, MD, former Senior Vice President, Discovery Research at Amgen where he oversaw more than 100 preclinical projects spanning hematology/oncology, inflammation, metabolic disorders, and neuroscience. One of the many highlights of Dr. Lacey’s distinguished academic, clinical, and industry career included playing a fundamental role in the discovery of the RANKL/RANK pathway, which led to the development of the anti-RANKL human mAb denosumab.
- John Lowe, PhD, former Medicinal Chemist at Pfizer. Dr. Lowe brings more than 30 years of drug discovery and development experience and expertise in synthetic and medicinal chemistry. At Pfizer, Dr. Lowe was a leader in neuroscience GPCR drug discovery where he discovered the first nonpeptide NK1 receptor antagonist as well as the atypical antipsychotic drug ziprasidone.
- Ruth Wexler, PhD, former Scientific Vice President, Small Molecule Drug Discovery at Bristol-Myers Squibb. During her career, Dr. Wexler successfully built and led high-achieving discovery teams spanning cardiovascular/metabolic diseases, fibrosis, and immunology that advanced 38 drug candidates into development, which included two important approved drugs, the antihypertensive agent losartan and the anticoagulant apixaban.
- William Charman, Ph.D., Former Dean, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Monash University. Dr. Charman was the Founding Director of the Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and his research and expertise spans drug discovery, drug delivery, formulation, and pharmaceutical sciences.
“In this cross-disciplinary advisory board, Septerna has assembled a deep roster of experts with a broad range of expertise, particularly in the areas of GPCR pharmacology and drug discovery,” said Dr. Lindsley. “I think I represent the entire group of advisors when I say I’m truly excited to help Septerna take what it has built in its GPCR Native Complex™ platform and translate it into a powerful drug discovery engine that has the potential to yield multiple important future medicines.”
G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are the largest and most diverse family of cell membrane receptors, and humans have hundreds of different GPCRs, each involved in controlling specific biological functions. GPCRs on the surface of each cell bind a wide range of external signaling molecules from throughout the body, and the GPCR transmits the signal across the cell membrane to drive internal cellular mechanisms. GPCRs have been widely studied as drug targets and are the largest family of proteins targeted by approved drug products. An estimated 700 approved drugs target GPCRs, representing approximately one-third of all currently approved drugs. Despite the pharmacological success of GPCRs as a drug class to date, the large majority of potential therapeutic GPCR targets remain undrugged.
Septerna, Inc. is a biotechnology company creating broad new drug discovery opportunities across many disease areas for the abundant drug target class of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). The company’s Native Complex™ Platform recapitulates GPCRs with their native structure, function, and dynamics outside of the cellular environment to enable new technologies for industrial-scale drug discovery for the entire GPCR target class for the first time. Septerna has an emerging pipeline of GPCR-targeted small molecule drug discovery programs, along with growth potential to reach many GPCRs that have been undruggable and unexploited to date. Septerna was launched in 2022 by scientific founders who have made groundbreaking GPCR discoveries and by founding investor Third Rock Ventures. For more information, please visit www.septerna.com.
Liz Bhatt, MS, MBA