The emergence of SARS-CoV-2 elicited a worldwide effort to discover new therapeutics and protective vaccines. Researchers are now accelerating the development of pandemic-relevant pharmaceutical drugs and vaccines at a record pace. This webinar will discuss therapeutic solutions to COVID-19 and delve into the highs and lows of developing pandemic drugs and vaccines at lightning speed.

Topics to be covered
-Sequence-based design of small molecules targeting RNA
-The rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines

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    Stephen J. Thomas, MD
    Professor of Medicine, Chief, Infectious Disease Division Director, Institute for Global Health & Translational Science Upstate Medical University
    Stephen Thomas is a physician-scientist and a professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology. He is the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Institute for Global Health and Translational Science at SUNY Upstate Medical University. Prior to joining Upstate, Thomas spent twenty years in the US Army Medical Corps serving at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and completing his career as the institute’s Deputy Commander for Operations. Thomas specializes in the study of viruses and vaccine development. He played key leadership roles in the US government’s response to the West Africa Ebola outbreak and the MERS-CoV and Zika epidemics and was instrumental in the development and advancement of vaccines for each virus. His current research activities include developing vaccines and drugs against mosquito and tick-borne illnesses, vaccines against opioid use disorders, and field studies exploring global health challenges. During COVID, Thomas led SUNY Upstate’s Incident Command as they prepared and responded to infections in central New York. His team initiated numerous experimental COVID treatment trials and he is the coordinating principal investigator for Pfizer’s COVID vaccine trial. Thomas advises the World Health Organization, the US government, and academic and industry partners on global health and biomedical research. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes Magazine and scientific literature. Thomas earned his bachelor of arts with honors in biomedical ethics from Brown University, his medical degree from Albany Medical College, and completed his internal medicine residency and infectious diseases fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
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    Matthew D. Disney, PhD
    Professor, Department of Chemistry, Florida Campus, Scripps Research Institute
    Matthew Disney earned his PhD in biophysical chemistry from the University of Rochester in 2003 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in organic chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2005, he joined the Department of Chemistry at the University of Buffalo as an assistant professor and later joined the Scripps Research Institute, Florida Campus, in 2010. Disney’s research is centered on understanding the molecular recognition of RNA by small molecules. His team develops novel experimental approaches that provide a foundational understanding of RNA-small molecule interactions. In 2003, his team was awarded the Eli Lilly Award in Biological Chemistry from the Biological Chemistry Division of the American Chemical Society. Disney’s team also develops and implements computational tools to design bioactive small molecules that target RNAs across the transcriptome. They have identified multiple small molecules that target microRNAs involved in cancer, addiction, and viral infections. Disney also serves as an associate editor for the Journal of the American Chemical Society. His research provides sequence-based drug design across the human transcriptome to provide precision lead medicines.