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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.

Download the Abstract Booklet
Learn about transcription therapy at St. Jude  
Visit the Video Archive



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.