Dr. Amanda Linkous previously served as the Director of the Starr Foundation Cerebral Organoid Translational Core at Weill Cornell Medicine (New York, NY).
She completed her postdoctoral training in the Neuro-Oncology Branch at the National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, MD). She has extensive expertise in cancer stem cell biology and the molecular signaling that promotes tumor progression. She established a novel, ex vivo 3D system to study the interactions and molecular cross-talk between tumor cells and a miniature model of the human brain–a finding that was published in Cell Reports and featured on CNN Pioneers and in a special edition of Science.
With over 15 years of research training in multiple tumor model systems including lung cancer, ovarian carcinoma, and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), her efforts have facilitated partnerships with multiple institutions and pharmaceutical companies, including an innovative collaboration with Pfizer to evaluate the clinical efficacy of cPLA2 inhibitors.
Dr. Linkous is currently the Scientific Center Manager for the NCI’s Center for Systems Biology of Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) at Vanderbilt University, where she is developing similar 3D model systems to study the biology and refractory nature of SCLC (Nashville, TN).
Vito Quaranta, MD, trained in cell biology and immunology, is the Director of the Quantitative Systems Biology Center, and Professor of Biochemistry and Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Having studied cancer and the tumor microenvironment for most of his career, for over a decade he has been implementing cutting-edge interdisciplinary efforts melding mathematics, engineering, computation and biology to solve the problem of cancer invasion and metastasis.
He has co-developed multi-scale mathematical models that predict tumor aggressiveness based on the physical properties of extracellular matrix and adhesive properties of cancer cells. Dr. Quaranta has established single-cell techniques to quantify the rate of proliferation of single cells in response to perturbations (e.g., Fractional Proliferation), which can be applied in high-throughput fashion to measure the dynamics of cancer cell response to drugs. He is also expert in single-cell methodologies to evaluate mechanism of action of cancer targeted therapy, based on the merging of automated time-lapse microscopy with image analysis and computational modeling.
To explore the roots of differential cell behavior and tumor heterogeneity, Dr. Quaranta studies the dynamics of transcription factor and signaling networks that define and maintain cell identity, and ultimately contribute to forming the phenotypic landscape of the tumor microenvironment.
Christian got his start in science driving a remote control car with an antennae bent into fractal shapes to study the effect of antennae topology on signal transmission; a project which took him to the international science and engineering fair in high school.
Continuing to pursue the quantitative sciences, Christian attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins where he graduated cum laude with a degree in Physics and a minor in Mathematics while running for the Colorado State Track and Field team where he earned First Team NCAA Academic All-American honors. While at Colorado State, he studied magnetic spin wave propagation in
anisotropic films in the laboratory of Dr. Kristen Buchanan.
Turning toward graduate school, Christian sought a program where the big picture was as important as the small picture was interesting inevitably leading to studying human health and disease. He was accepted into the Chemical and Physical Biology Program at Vanderbilt University in 2014 and went on to join the laboratory of Dr. Vito Quaranta to study the Systems Biology of Cancer.
Leveraging his mathematics background coupled with high throughput experiments preformed in the Vanderbilt High Throughput Screening Center, Christian developed the MuSyC framework for quantifying drug synergy, recently published in Cell Systems. While in graduate school, Christian received a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship (NSF GRFP) and NCAA post graduate fellowship, was selected for the Richard Armstrong prize in the Vanderbilt Institute for Chemical Biology, and has given talks at several international conferences. His scientific interests continue to focus on the interface of mathematics, biology, and pharmacology with the practical aim to improve how optimal therapies are discovered and deployed in a variety of diseases. His remains committed to bettering his community through volunteering at the children’s hospital and promoting diversity through mentorship programs aimed at under-served demographics.
Laurent is a serial biotech entrepreneur and senior executive in the industry.
He has led and/or contributed to the identification and development of seven
novel medicines (Xeljanz®, Hemangiol®, Javlor®, Renflexis®, Brenzys®,
Ontruzant®, Hadlima® – biologics and small molecules) addressing unmet medical
need across multiple disease areas that generate > $2B in annual sales.
Laurent has also led business and R&D functions in both pharma and biotech (US and EU), developing and operationalizing strategies, modernizing pipelines and business models, bringing forward drug candidates into and through development, and partnering on multiple deals (buy and sell-sides). He also serves as an independent board member in different organizations (Cytovia Therapeutics, Vanderbilt University).
Laurent was recently at the helm of Kymera Therapeutics as CEO, President, and board member where he led the construction of the business, bringing in over $135M in funding and executing on > $1B in pharma partnership. Prior to this role, he was head of R&D with Pierre Fabre Pharmaceuticals (multinational pharma with $2.5B in top line), where he rebuilt the organization, led the in/out-licensing of multiple clinical stage assets and technologies, and directly contributed to IND entries, POC and LCM studies in oncology, dermatology, and neuropsychiatry.
Earlier in his career, Laurent held positions of increasing leadership responsibilities on the business and science fronts at Pfizer, Merck, MedImmune, and Pieris contributing to the advancement of 21 drug candidates into clinical development across multiple disease areas and modalities. In addition and over the course of his career, Laurent has executed > $3B in pharma/biotech deals. He is also an inventor, has served on NIH study sections, and co-authored over 70 papers and patents.
He studied chemistry (B.S. honors) and pharmacology (Ph.D.) at Vanderbilt University and was the recipient of an American Heart Association Fellowship at Duke University.
GSK, Accenture, PwC, UnitedHealth group, and serial entrepreneur in start-ups specialized in oncology, cardiology and genome profiling with several series completed and one IPO.