Meet the Co-Chairs.
Neal Connors received his BS in Biology from Norwich University and his PhD in Microbiology from the Ohio State University. He is currently a RISE Associate at Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti at Drew University. He is also the owner/president of Phoenix BioConsulting, LLC serving companies that develop and produce bioprocess-derived products.
Previously, Neal was a member of the Bioprocess R&D department at Merck & Co and rose to the level of Senior Investigator. During his two decades at Merck, Neal was involved with a diverse project portfolio including fermentation and strain improvement to produce bioactive natural products, monoclonal antibody and therapeutic protein production using mammalian cell, yeast, and bacterial expression systems, biocatalysis for production of chiral intermediates, and fermentation of pathogenic bacteria for polysaccharide vaccines. He was a member of the team involved in developing the bioprocess and commercializing CANCIDAS®, a first-in-class natural product antifungal antibiotic. In addition, Neal was a Founder and CTO of Kalion, Inc., an industrial biotech start-up looking to commercialize bioprocess-produced glucaric acid and 3-hydroxybutyrolactone, two platform chemicals on the Department of Energy’s list of Top Value Added Chemicals from Biomass.
Neal is a contributing author on numerous peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, patents, and conference abstracts. He has been an active member of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology for several years serving as President, Director, and program chair for the Society’s Annual Meeting and Fermentation Technology Meeting. He also serves on the editorial boards for the Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology and Enzyme and Microbial Technology and is a regular reviewer for Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology.
Dr. Marvin Bayne also joins us from the Charles A. Dana Research Institute of Scientists Emeriti. He received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Northwestern University followed by postdoctoral studies at the Johns Hopkins University. After his postdoctoral studies Marvin served as head of Molecular Biology at Unigene Laboratories before joining the Merck Research Laboratories in 1984. At Merck Marvin focused his research initially on growth factors before concentrating on the cloning, expression and characterization of G Protein-Coupled Receptors. In 1995 he joined the Schering-Plough Research Institute where he established the Genomics and Bioinformatics departments initially focusing on orphan GPCRs. In 2002 Marvin became Vice President of Discovery Technologies, an enabling technologies department that included compound management, High Throughput Screening, functional genomics, bioinformatics, mouse genetics, pharmacogenetics, and Laboratory Animal Research. After the Organon acquisition in 2007 he became head of the global Genomics Council and organized New Target Days and was the driving force behind implementing Lead Finding Teams into the SPRI drug development paradigm. In 2008, Marvin took on additional responsibility for all global preclinical research in cardiovascular and metabolic diseases within SPRI. He served as a permanent member of the Research Leadership Committee and the Early Development Committee, two research governance bodies managing the drug development process from target identification and validation through proof of concept in early clinical trials. Marvin returned to Merck in 2009 with the merger of Merck and Schering-Plough. He was selected to serve as the primary representative from Discovery Research on the new Merck Discovery and Pharmaceutical Sciences Integration Team where he co-chaired a work stream on Centers of Excellence focusing on integrating the enabling technologies groups from the two legacy organizations. Marvin retired from Merck in November 2010 and joined RISE in 2016. He is coauthor of over 60 research publications and co-inventor on more than a dozen patents.
Bill Greenlee received his B.S. degree in chemistry at The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. degree from Harvard University. He was an NIH Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University before joining Merck Research Laboratories in Rahway, New Jersey. At Merck, Bill was a member of the team that discovered Merck’s antihypertensive drugs Vasotec and Prinivil. His group worked on other cardiovascular programs, including angiotensin II antagonists and endothelin antagonists. He was promoted to Director in 1989 and to Senior Director in 1992. In 1995, Bill joined Schering-Plough in Kenilworth, New Jersey as Senior Director, Cardiovascular and CNS Chemical Research, and was promoted to Vice President in 2002. During 15 years at Schering-Plough, he and his group advanced eleven drug candidates into clinical trials, including preladenant for treatment of Parkinson’s disease, vorapaxar for prevention of thrombosis and the BACE1 inhibitor MK-8931 for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (currently in Phase 2). Following the acquisition of Schering-Plough by Merck in 2009, he served as Chemistry Site Head in Kenilworth until August, 2010, and is now working as an independent medicinal chemistry consultant. Bill has contributed to the American Chemical Society and other chemistry-based organizations. He served as Chair and Program Chair for both the Medicinal Chemistry and Organic Chemistry Divisions of ACS. He is Perspectives Editor for the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, and serves on the Editorial Advisory Board for ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters. Bill received the Alfred Burger Award in Medicinal Chemistry in 2004 and was inducted into the ACS Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame in 2006. He was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007 and a Fellow of the ACS in 2009. He is coauthor of over 200 research publications and co-inventor of over 75 U.S. patents.
Vincent Gullo received his B.S. degree in Chemistry from the City College of New York and his Ph. D. degree in Organic Chemistry from Columbia University. With a strong background in natural products chemistry, Vince joined the Natural Products group at Merck Research Laboratories. There he worked on the isolation and structural elucidation of compounds from microbial sources found active in a variety of therapeutic areas, including antiinfectives, antiinflammatories, antiparasitic agents and cholesterol lowering drugs. Vince was a member of the team that discovered Primaxin, a broad spectrum antibiotic, Mevacor, the first cholesterol lowering agent (statin) and the anthelmintic, Ivermectin. In 1983, Vince moved to Schering Plough Research Laboratory where he led the Natural Products Research group as an Assistant Director. The natural products group at Schering Plough developed new therapeutic assays, isolated and fermented microorganisms, screened extracts for bioactivity and through bioassay guided fractionation, isolated and identified bioactive compounds. With the advent of high throughput screening and combinatorial chemistry, the natural product group was ideally suited to expand their role and became the department of New Lead Discovery at Schering Plough Research Institute (SPRI). Many compounds were progressed from drug discovery to the clinic at SPRI. In 2003 Vince moved from his Senior Director position at SPRI to become Vice President of Drug Discovery at Cetek Corporation. At Cetek the research team discovered two novel compounds for development, an anticancer compound and an antiviral compound. The anticancer compound was licensed to a large pharmaceutical company for further development. Vince is coauthor of over 80 research publications and co-inventor of over 20 patents. Vince received the Charles Porter Award from the Society for Industrial Microbiology in 2011. In 2007 Vince joined Drew University as a Research Fellow in the Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti (RISE), and in 2018 became Director of RISE. At Drew Vince enjoys working with students on the synthesis of novel antibacterial compounds.
After receiving his B.S from Southampton College, his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Brandeis and doing postdoctoral research at Cornell, Dr. McKittrick joined Schering-Plough in 1986. He was part of the team that discovered Zetia, which was approved by the FDA for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. For his contributions, he received the Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award, the 2004 ACS Heroes of Chemistry Award and was named an Inventor of the Year. Subsequently, his high throughput synthesis team contributed to the development of leads against HCV protease which led to the discovery of Victrelis- the first HCV protease inhibitor to be approved by the FDA. He is co-inventor of imino-heterocycle based aspartyl protease inhibitors, which led to inhibitors of beta amyloid converting enzyme (BACE1) and a clinical candidate (Verubecastat) to test the amyloid hypothesis of Alzheimer’s. His group also used this novel pharmacophore to develop orally available Renin inhibitors. Compounds from these programs were also found (by colleagues at Merck) to provide inhibitors of Plasmepsin for the treatment of Malaria. He has extensively used structure-based drug design and after joining Merck in 2009, his group continued to use SBDD to develop inhibitors of protease, kinase, and CYP450 targets. Overall, during his 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry his team contributed to 7 projects that delivered clinical candidates. In 2017, he joined OliPass as Vice-President of Science and Strategy to help develop their platform of cell permeable peptide nucleic acids as the next generation of anti-sense therapeutics. In 2022 he moved into an advisory role at OliPass, started a med chem consulting company (Pipeline Partners) and also joined the RISE program at Drew University where his lab is working on some early med chem projects using targeted protein degraders.
Nick Meanwell received his B.Sc. in Special Honors Chemistry and his Ph.D. degree from the University of Sheffield, Sheffield, England. After a post-doctoral fellowship at Wayne State University with Professor Carl R. Johnson he joined Bristol Myers in Evansville, Indiana. He spent the bulk of his career at the Wallingford, Connecticut site of Bristol-Myers Squibb where he contributed to drug discovery in the cardiovascular, CNS and antiviral arenas. He led the teams that identified BMY-20844 as a clinical candidate for the prevention of thrombosis and mapped out the non-prostanoid, prostacyclin mimetic pharmacophore defined by BMY-45778 and which subtends the marketed compound selexipag. In the CNS area, flindokalner (MaxiPost®) emerged from studies of maxi-K potassium channel openers and this compound was advanced into Phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of stroke. As head of the antiviral chemistry, his teams advanced 30 clinical candidates as potential therapeutics for respiratory viruses, HIV-1 and HCV. These included the HIV-1 attachment inhibitor temsavir which is marketed as its phosphonooxymethyl prodrug fostemsavir by ViiV Healthcare as Rukobia and the HIV-1 maturation inhibitors BMS-955176, which completed Phase 2b clinical trials, fipravirimat (P2b) and zegruvirimat (P1) also currently in clinical trials with ViiV Healthcare. Significant compounds in the HCV arena include daclatasvir (DaklinzaTM), a pioneering molecule that established NS5A inhibition as a clinically-relevant target, and the HCV NS3 protease inhibitor asunaprevir (SunvepraTM), which incorporates the cyclopropyl acylsulfonamide moiety that has been widely adopted. These drugs, which were marketed as a combination therapy for the treatment of GT-1b infection, established for the first time that an HCV infection could be cured by direct-acting antiviral agents in the absence of immune stimulation. In addition, beclabuvir, a thumb site inhibitor of HCV NS5B polymerase, was approved in Japan in December, 2016 for the treatment of HCV genotype 1 infection.
Nick has organized/co-organized more than 60 sessions at National and International Meetings, ACS Webinars in Drug Discovery, ACS Prospectives Meetings and Short Courses on aspects of drug design and has presented more than 180 invited lectures at National and International meetings, Universities and Schools on Medicinal Chemistry. He was Perspectives Editor for the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry 2017-2022 and is currently an Associate Editor with the Journal. He is the author of more than 300 publications, review articles, book chapters and editorials and 206 meeting abstracts and is named as inventor/co-inventor of 144 issued U.S. Patents.
Nick was the recipient of the 2015 Philip S. Portoghese Medicinal Chemistry Lectureship Award, was inducted into the ACS Division of Medicinal Chemistry Hall of Fame in 2015, was a co-recipient of a 2017 “Heroes of Chemistry” Award sponsored by the American Chemical Society and the recipient of the 2022 Alfred Burger Award in Medicinal Chemistry sponsored by the American Chemical Society. He was elected as a Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2022.