Tri-State STEM Leaders Converge at Kean University for Drug Discovery Symposium

UNION, N.J. – The Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship (ILSE) held its inaugural Regional Academy Drug Discovery Symposium on STEM Day, Wednesday, November 8, at its headquarters and laboratories in the state-of-the-art STEM building on the campus of Kean University in Union, N.J. Nearly 150 students, entrepreneurs and leaders from academia, business, science and pharma from across the tri-state converged to network, share ideas and build relationships in support of drug discovery.

“This is one of the largest interstate gatherings of science enthusiasts of varying backgrounds and industries who are all working to strengthen our local life sciences ecosystem and accelerate academic innovation into new products that improve human health,” said Keith Bostian, Ph.D., founder and CEO of ILSE and dean of Kean’s New Jersey Center for Science Technology and Mathematics (NJCSTM).

The symposium included speakers and attendees from Rockefeller, Rutgers, Temple and Stony Brook Universities, pharmaceutical companies, the public sector and venture capital. Discussions, which ranged from case studies and research funding to development models on translational research, focused on the benefits patients receive through therapies and other treatments that address unmet medical needs.

“Drug discovery is a team effort requiring a multitude of techniques and approaches,” said Sam Kongsamut, Ph.D., executive director of ILSE. “With the shift from vertically-integrated internal research at large multinational companies to a distributed approach of sourcing new innovations from universities and small biotechnology companies, much translational capacity has been developed in our region over the past several years. ILSE provides a forum to share these experiences and move the initiatives forward.”

During her panel presentation on funding translational research, Carolyn Buser-Doepner, Ph.D., vice president and global head of Discovery Partnerships with Academia, shared the symposium’s vision “to combine innovation of academia with the expertise of pharmaceuticals to always make better medicine for our patients.”

David Augeri, Ph.D., director of Molecular Design & Synthesis at Rutgers University, agreed that ILSE’s regional drug discovery event is the cornerstone of collaborative academic discovery research.

“With the projected growth of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) jobs, especially in New Jersey, we need to construct a stronger foundation for the research market that will be thriving in the next five years,” he said, noting that Kean University’s close proximity to New York City makes ILSE a well suited venue for aspiring entrepreneurs.

ILSE, which has helped turn Kean’s STEM building into a hotbed of scientific research, works in partnership with affiliated academic and biomedical institutions to accelerate innovations into high-value products.

“New Jersey’s rich and diverse life sciences ecosystem is built on the talent, experience and knowledge that resides within and beyond the state, and ILSE is poised to fortify connections between the various contributors to the drug discovery process, including students from Kean University and other institutions of higher education,” Bostian said.

The Regional Academy Drug Discovery Symposium ended with a networking session for all attendees, which included a discussion of plans for next year’s symposium.

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