Hengli Tang, Ph.D.
Florida State University
Professor Tang is a Biological Science Faculty Member at Florida State University’s Department of Biological Science. He is an accomplished virologist who has been studying RNA viruses for more than two decades, publishing extensively on retroviruses and the hepatitis C virus. In early 2016, Prof. Tang’s lab began to study Zika virus in response to the Zika global health emergency. Since then, he and his research collaborators have been at the forefront of research concerning the pathogenesis of, and development of therapeutics for, Zika virus infection. He recently co-authored a study, published in Nature Medicine, reporting two classes of compounds: one that protects Zika virus-infected neural cells from programmed cell death (“apoptosis”) and another that directly inhibits Zika virus replication. According to the study, when used in combination, compounds from the two classes enhanced the neuroprotective effect. Professor Tang’s professional contributions have been recognized with numerous awards, including the Developing Scholar Award from Florida State University, Outstanding Service as Online Mentor from the American Society for Microbiology, and the Research Scholar Award from the American Cancer Society.
Elliot Androphy, M.D.
Professor Androphy is the Chair of the Department of Dermatology of the Indiana University School of Medicine. He is the author of 135 journal articles published in Science, Nature, EMBO Molecular Medicine, Human Molecular Genetics, Journal of Virology, Molecular Cell, and other publications. After a four-year postdoctoral fellowship in virology at the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology of the National Cancer Institute/NIH, he joined Tufts Medical Center. His research team began investigations in SMA and identified the critical difference between SMN1 and SMN2 exon 7 splicing. Dr. Androphy served as Vice Chair for Research of the Department of Medicine, and as Director of the M.D./Ph.D. Program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where his lab characterized the mechanism of alternative splicing of the SMN2 gene, which leads to skipping of exon 7 and failure to protect from motor neuron loss found in spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). His lab developed a cell-based high throughput screen for compounds that increase levels of the SMN protein that is deficient in SMA, with the goal of increasing the potency and optimizing the pharmacology of pre-clinical leads. His work at the Indiana University School of Medicine has led to the identification of pre-clinical compounds that increase SMN protein levels. Dr. Androphy is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for both Cure SMA and FightSMA, previously served on the SAB of ImmuLogic and of Signal Pharmaceuticals, and is co-founder of Elagen Inc.
Kevin Hodgetts, Ph.D.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Professor Hodgetts is the head of Medicinal Chemistry and Director of the Laboratory for Drug Discovery in Neurodegeneration (LDDN) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. He is also the Founder and co-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of Klogene Therapeutics, Inc. Dr. Hodgetts has a broad background in organic and medicinal chemistry, with experience in both industrial and academic drug discovery. He has over 15 years of experience working on treatments for diseases of the central nervous system. Compounds from two projects that he was involved with have entered clinical trials: NGD-8243, the first TRPV1 antagonist to reach phase II clinical trials for pain; and NGD-4715, the first MCH-1 antagonist to reach phase I clinical trials for obesity. Dr. Hodgetts joined the LDDN in September 2012 to work with the academic community to design new and innovative strategies for drug discovery for neurodegenerative diseases.