Scientific Advisory Board

Brian Kobilka, M.D., Chair

Dr. Kobilka is Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, and Hélène Irwin Fagan Chair in Cardiology at Stanford University School of Medicine. He received Bachelor of Science degrees in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Minnesota, Duluth in 1977. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine in 1981, and completed residency training in Internal Medicine at the Barnes Hospital, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri in 1984. From 1984-1989 he was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Robert Lefkowitz at Duke University. In 1990 he joined the faculty of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. Research in the Kobilka lab focuses on the structure and mechanism of action of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs), which constitute the largest family of receptors for hormones and neurotransmitters in the human genome. GPCRs are the largest group of targets for new therapeutics for a very broad spectrum of diseases. In 2012, Kobilka was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on GPCRs. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Steve Brenner, Ph.D.

Steve Brenner received his Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from Indiana University in 1972 where he worked with Donald McQuarrie on the theory of long-range forces between macromolecules in solution. After completing graduate studies, Steve joined the faculty of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky. After several years in academia, Steve moved to the National Institutes of Health. At the NIH his research shifted to experimental studies on the cellular machinery of non-muscle cell motility, and particularly on the assembly of actin filaments and their modulation by accessory proteins in the cytoskeleton. After 10 years at the NIH, Steve took a position in the Central Research Department of the DuPont Company where he held positions of increasing responsibility leading research teams in Structural Biology and Biophysics and directed the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. While at DuPont his research program focused on macromolecular complex assembly, with particular focus on supra-molecular structures involved in genetic recombination. In 1991 he joined DuPont’s pharmaceutical division, which was subsequently acquired by the Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical Company (BMS) in 2001. At BMS Steve rose through the executive ranks to the position of Vice President of Chemical and Protein Technologies where he led a diverse department that provided core support for both small and large molecule drug discovery. His group included teams focused on protein expression and purification, peptide chemistry, assay development, biophysical characterization, macromolecular crystallography, computer-aided drug design, rapid synthesis of small-molecule chemistry libraries, centralized compound purification, bioanalytical support for compound profiling, and medicinal chemistry support of early discovery programs. He was a member of the Joint Research Committee for numerous BMS academic and industrial alliances, and actively involved in the creation of the BMS-Biocon Research Center in Bangalore, India, and the BMS-Tsinghua University Structural Biology alliance in Beijing, China. Steve has also served as a member of the Keystone Symposia Scientific Advisory Board and Chair of the Directorate Advisory Committee for the Fundamental and Computational Sciences at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Steve retired from BMS in May of 2013, and has since been an independent consultant. In addition to his role on the ConfometRx SAB, Steve is head of the Scientific Advisory Board of Peptidream, a biotechnology company in Tokyo, Japan focused on discovery and development of novel cyclic peptide drugs for unmet medical needs. He has also served a consultant to the University of North Carolina in the area of academic and industry relations.

Brian Shoichet, Ph.D.

Brian Shoichet is Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry and of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). Brian graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Bachelor of Science degrees in both Chemistry and History in 1985. He received his Ph.D. in molecular biophysics with Tack Kuntz at UCSF (1986-1992), where Brian developed the basis of molecular docking methods and applied them to the first screens of readily available molecules. In his postdoctoral work he trained in protein structure with Brian Matthews at the Institute of Molecular Biology (1993-1996), where he investigated trade-offs between protein stability and ligand recognition. Research in the Shoichet Lab seeks to bring chemical reagents to biology using a cycle of methods development, computational simulation and experimental testing. An unanticipated observation emerging from the theory/experiment cycle was the colloidal aggregation of organic molecules, which has sweeping effects in early and late drug discovery. More broadly, we adopt a protein-centric approach that seeks new ligands to complement protein structures. This involves both new molecular docking methods and model experimental systems to test them. Conversely, using a ligand-centric approach, we seek new targets for established drugs and reagents. A focus for both approaches is ligand discovery against GPCRs. The work of the lab is supported by the NIH and the FDA.

William Weis, Ph.D.

Bill Weis is the William M. Hume Professor in the School of Medicine at Stanford University, and a Professor of Structural Biology, of Molecular and Cellular Physiology and of Photon Science. Bill Weis received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 1987 at Harvard University, where he worked with Don Wiley on the mechanism of receptor recognition by influenza viruses. He conducted postdoctoral work on crystallographic refinement methods with Axel Brunger at Yale in 1988, and then was a postdoctoral fellow with Wayne Hendrickson at Columbia University (1988-92), working on the structure of C-type animal lectins and their interaction with carbohydrates, which included contributions to developing MAD phasing. He established his own laboratory at Stanford University in 1993. Research in the Weis group centers upon understanding molecular interactions that underlie the establishment and maintenance of cell and tissue structure. The major projects are the structure and dynamics of intercellular junctions, their relationship to cell polarity, and the Wnt signaling pathway that governs cell fate determination. Weis collaborates closely with Brian Kobilka’s group on x-ray structural analysis of G-protein coupled receptors. The research employs biochemical reconstitution of molecular interactions, quantitative measurement of the strength of molecular interactions using a variety of biochemical and biophysical methods, and determination of the structures of interacting molecules by x-ray crystallography and other biophysical tools.