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Bringing Chemistry to Medicine

Transcription Therapy Symposium

Held Thursday, September 24, 2020


The Transcription Therapy Symposium featured thought leaders at the interface of chemical and biomedical sciences, offering participants the opportunity to learn and explore scientific advances in chromatin and gene regulation, transcription-targeted therapeutics and more. Hosted by the St. Jude Department of Chemical Biology and Therapeutics and the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center, this virtual event was held on September 24, 2020.

Disruption of chromatin, epigenetic states and transcriptional regulation can lead to disease, including pediatric cancers. As our understanding of mechanisms of transcriptional regulation increases, so does our ability to rationally design molecules with therapeutic potential that target these processes. This symposium explored chemical approaches to elucidating and regulating chromatin and epigenetic landscapes, and mechanistically guided approaches to remedying dysfunctional gene regulation in human disease.

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Learn about transcription therapy at St. Jude  



    Aseem Ansari

    Aseem Ansari

    St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

    Bobby Arora

    Paramjit (Bobby) Arora, PhD

    New York University

    Stephen Frye

    Stephen Frye, PhD

    University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

    Nathaneal Gray

    ​Nathanael S. Gray, PhD

    Stanford University

    Anna Mapp

    Anna Mapp, PhD

    University of Michigan

    Tom Muir

    Tom Muir, PhD

    Princeton University

    Charles W.M. Roberts

    Charles W.M. Roberts, MD, PhD

    St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

    Joanna Wysocka

    Joanna Wysocka, PhD

    Stanford University

    Richard Young

    Richard A. Young, PhD

    Whitehead Institute
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology



    All times are in Central Time, beginning at 8:45 am CT / 1:45 pm GMT.

    Time Event
    8:45 - 9:00 am Log in
    9:00 - 9:05 am Dr. Charles Roberts and Dr. Aseem Ansari
    Welcome and Introduction of Dr. Downing
    9:05 - 9:15 am Dr. James Downing, President and CEO of St. Jude Children's Hospital
    Opening Remarks
    Session 1 Chromatin
    9:15 - 9:40 am Dr. Charles Roberts
    Chromatin Remodeler Mutations in Cancer: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Vulnerabilities
    9:45 - 10:10 am Dr. Stephen Frye
    Allosteric Antagonists of Methyl-lysine Reader Domain Interactions with DNA/RNA
    10:15 - 10:30 am Break
    10:30 - 10:55 am Dr. Tom Muir
    Painting Chromatin with Synthetic Protein Chemistry
    11:00 - 11:25 am Dr. Joanna Wysocka
    Transcriptional Enhancers and Emergence of Form and Function During Development and Evolution
    11:30 am - 12:00 pm Panel Discussion
    12:00 - 12:30 pm Break
    Session 2 New Concepts
    12:30 - 12:55 pm Dr. Rick Young
    Nuclear Condensates in Gene Regulation, Disease Pathology and Drug Partitioning
    1:00 - 1:15 pm Discussion
    Session 3 Transcription Factors
    1:15 - 1:40 pm Dr. Aseem Ansari
    Chemical Control of Gene Expression
    1:45 - 2:10 pm Dr. Anna Mapp
    Writing the Rules for Targeting Dynamic Transcriptional Coactivators
    2:15 - 2:30 pm Break
    2:30 - 2:55 pm Dr. Bobby Arora
    Systematic Targeting of Transcription Factor-Coactivator Protein-Protein Interactions
    3:00 - 3:25 pm Dr. Nathanael Gray
    Targeted Protein Degradation - A New Therapeutic Strategy
    3:30 - 4:00 pm Panel Discussion
    4:00 - 4:15 pm Dr. Aseem Ansari
    Concluding Remarks

    View the Partner Event

    Held Friday, September 25, 2020

    2020 Chemical Biology and Therapeutics Symposium


    The 2020 Chemical Biology and Therapeutics (CBT) Symposium on Friday, September 25, 2020, is a partner event under the overarching theme of Bringing Chemistry to Medicine. The CBT 2020 symposium brought together leading chemical biologists who are pioneering new synthetic approaches to investigate challenging questions in biology and molecular medicine. 

    Learn more about the CBT Symposium >>


    Ivet Bahar

    Ivet Bahar, PhD

    University of Pittsburgh
    UP Drug Discovery Institute

    Philip Chamberlain

    Philip Chamberlain, MD

    James Chen

    James Chen, PhD

    Stanford University

    Tarun Kapoor

    Tarun Kapoor, PhD

    The Rockefeller University

    Angela Koehler

    Angela Koehler, PhD

    MIT Biological Engineering

    Jun Liu

    Jun Liu, PhD

    Johns Hopkins University

    Shaomeng Wang

    Shaomeng Wang, PhD

    University of Michigan


    Transcription Therapy at St. Jude

    Over decades of research, scientists in the St. Jude Comprehensive Cancer Center and others have discovered that several pediatric cancers emerge due to disruption in chromatin and epigenetic states and dysfunctional transcriptional regulation. While gene regulation in general has long been considered “undruggable,” scientists in the St. Jude Department of Chemical Biology & Therapeutics (CBT) have created synthetic gene regulators and are devising new chemical approaches to inhibit or degrade malfunctioning components of chromatin and gene regulatory machineries. This work builds on the history of St. Jude as a pioneer in the therapeutic use of small molecules targeting gene regulation, most notably the application of glucocorticoid receptor agonists into chemotherapy regimens for pediatric patients with acute lymphoblastic lymphoma (ALL). The drugging of this transcription factor helped to dramatically increase overall survival rates for newly diagnosed ALL to 94% at St. Jude.

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