Who we are

Dr. Ueli Gubler (visiting Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Biomedical Engineering) was most recently the head of Biotechnology in the Roche Research and Early Development Division. He has over 30 years’ experience in the field of gene cloning, expression of proteins and general molecular biology techniques. While working at Hoffmann-La Roche, one of Dr. Gubler’s seminal contributions to the field was the development of a simple and highly efficient method for cDNA cloning. At Roche, this technique was applied in a number of projects, resulting in original reports of the cDNA-sequences and expression of growth hormone releasing factor (GRF), preprocholecystokinin (CCK), mouse interleukin-1a and human interleukin-12. Dr. Gubler was awarded the Roche Research and Development Award for the discovery of Interleukin-12, is a co-inventor on six other issued US patents, and is an author on 79 publications.

Dr. Alvin Stern (visiting Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Biomedical Engineering) has 35 years of protein purification experience and is known for his pioneering work at Hoffmann-La Roche on the purification of Interleukin-2 (IL-2) using innovative chromatographic procedures. During Dr. Stern’s career, he developed unique approaches to purify difficult proteins. Some of these technologies were subsequently used in the purification of IL-1 and the IL-1 receptor. Equally novel was the purification of natural IL-12, which opened a new field of study in the differentiation of naive T cells into Th0 cells, which further develop into either Th1 or Th2 cells. He was awarded the Roche Research and Development Award for the discovery of Interleukin-12. Most recently, Dr. Stern was head of the Protein Biochemistry group at Roche and thus contributed to all Therapeutic Areas in Roche’s Discovery Research division with particular focus on purification and characterization of recombinant proteins for assay development and structural determination. He is the author or coauthor of over 65 publications and the inventor or co-inventor on four protein purification patents.

Dr. Kuo-Sen Huang (visiting Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Biomedical Engineering) has over 30 years of experience in protein biochemistry, assay development, high throughput screening and data management. While working at Hoffmann-La Roche, Dr. Huang purified several cell adhesion molecules such as VCAM-1, MAdCAM-1, VLA-4 and a4ß7 integrins and developed assays for screening drug antagonists. Dr. Huang and his coworkers eventually developed a potent VLA4 antagonist for Phase I and II clinical studies. Most recently, Dr. Huang was the head of Biochemical High-throughput Screening (HTS) Group in the Discovery Technology Department at Roche responsible for assay development, HTS and supporting lead discovery programs for Oncology, Metabolic Disease and Inflammation Department projects. For the past 14 years, he led a group of scientists supporting more than 80 projects and made numerous contributions. He also implemented several biophysical techniques such as. Biacore, thermal shift assay and ITC for hit validation. Prior to joining Roche, Dr. Huang was a protein biochemist at Biogen for five years, responsible for purification of therapeutic proteins. He is the author or coauthor of over 45 publications and an inventor or co-inventor of five assay and protein related patents.

Dr. Sid Topiol (visiting Professor in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Biomedical Engineering) leads all efforts in computational chemistry and virtual drug screening. He has extensive pharmaceutical industry and academia experience as Chief Scientific Officer at 3D-2Drug and senior research positions at Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck Research, Berlex/Schering Plough and The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. His scientific career activities trace back to early pioneering work in quantum chemical methods for small molecules, thermodynamic molecular pharmacology, the early development and use of pharmacophore-based methods for molecular pharmacology and drug design, protein structure based drug discovery in numerous disease areas (oncology, metabolic, cardiovascular, CNS disorders, etc.) through recent studies leading the use of X-ray structure based drug discovery for G Protein Coupling Receptor (GPCR) targets. During his tenure in the pharmaceutical industry, he has built and managed Computer Aided Drug Discovery efforts including personnel, software, hardware and project activities. He has driven interdisciplinary and international project teams in Structure Based Drug Discovery (SBDD). He has over 90 publications and numerous patents including ones for central nervous system compounds metabolic disease compounds.

Dr. Naoko Tanaka (visiting Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Biomedical Engineering) is at the forefront of research on protein biochemistry and enzymology with over 14 years of international research experience in industrial and academic settings. At Hoffmann-La Roche, Naoko held a joint position in the Protein Biochemistry group and in the Department of Virology, where she focused on purification and characterization of viral proteins and host interacting proteins for assay development and structure determination. Prior to her experience at Roche, Naoko had worked at premier research institutions such as Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (New York), Cancer Research UK (Herts, UK) and Weill Medical College of Cornell University (New York). During her postdoctoral training, she made a demonstrable impact on the field of protein biochemistry with her research on RNA splicing and processing. Naoko contributed to the advanced understanding of RNA splicing and its mechanism that is critical to the understanding of the cause of diseases with genetic disorders. All of her research publications, counting 13 papers as a first author, contain exquisite biochemical data and complementing genetic assays or structural information, which are the result of high quality protein/enzyme production. Naoko obtained her Ph.D degree in Biochemistry/Biocatalysis from University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands).

Dr. Wei Chu (visiting Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Biomedical Engineering) has more than 20 years of experience in biomedical research and development. His original career track as a pediatric surgeon shifted into basic scientific research after earning a PhD in Molecular Biology. His research career started as a post doctoral fellow. During his post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Molecular Genetics at Hoffmann-La Roche, Dr. Chu identified and characterized multiple novel cytokine inducible genes in human endothelial cells and identified the mechanism of tissue-specific gene regulation of adhesion molecule, E-selectin. After postdoc training, Dr. Chu stayed on with Roche and became a senior scientist. Over the years, he broaden his drug discovery knowledge base while being a member of several departments including Inflammation, Genomic Research, Biopharmaceuticals and Discovery Technologies. In the latest 14 years at Roche, his work focused on recombinant protein expression and vector engineering.

Lena Liang (visiting Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Biomedical Engineering) has extensive skills in protein biochemistry, with over 9 years of experience in field. Lena was a Senior Associate and Project Coordinator at Hoffmann-La Roche, where she was responsible for developing and executing protocols for protein production and protein characterization for the therapeutic areas. As Project Coordinator, she facilitated interdepartmental communication and collaborations with Project Managers. Prior to joining Roche, Lena worked in Dinshaw Patel’s Lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering where she was involved in elucidating epigenetic regulation using protein crystallography. Lena received her B.A. in biochemistry from New York University.

Xiaolei Zhang (visiting Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Biomedical Engineering) has more than 20 years of research and development experience in the pharmaceutical industry. From 1991 to 2013, she worked in support of a number of drug discovery research and preclinical development programs for allergy, oncology, inflammation and metabolic disease indications. Her main responsibilities included planning, design and execution of experimental activities (e.g. protein purification and characterization, biochemical and immunoassay development, high-throughput screening, lead identification and optimization), data analysis, and technical trouble-shooting. With extensive training and experience in assay development for drug development, her technical expertise covers various assay development and instrument operation, including colorimetric and fluorometric assays, enzymatic kinetics assays for Kd, Kcat, Km, HTRF assay, fluorescence polarization (FP) assay, luciferase assay, receptor-ligand binding assay, phosphoamino assay, BCA protein assay, ELISA, flow cytometry, cell-based assays, cell culture, SDS-PAGE, Western blotting, gel filtration chromatography, ion-exchange chromatography, HPLC and RP-HPLC, operation of EnVision, Biomeck NX/FX workstation, CyBi-Well workstation, ELISA plate reader, LJL Acquest Reader, Multidrop Combi & Micro dispenser, Zeiss Automation system, Teacan, TopCount, BD Solubility Scanner, etc. Prior to joining Roche, she was a physician in the Department of OB/GYN in Beijing Xuan-Wu Hospital, Beijing, China and a researcher in the Department of Microbiology, SUNY at Buffalo, New York.

Michael Sabio (visiting Scientist in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Biomedical Engineering) has extensive experience and a highly successful track record in computational chemistry and drug design, which spans over thirty years and includes positions in Queens College, Berlex Laboratories, Inc., Sandoz / Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Lundbeck Research U.S.A., and 3D-2Drug. His extensive drug-design experience involves all stages of drug discovery amenable to computer-aided molecular modeling, e.g., in lead finding, lead optimization, potency and selectivity prediction and enhancement, scaffold identification, de novo design, depeptidization, physical property optimization, and assay-screening evaluation. Michael has expertise in most major software applications and methodologies, with programming development as needed. When he was at Novartis, his collaboration with medicinal chemistry was cited as the only instance in Novartis resulting in the development of a virtual-screening hit into a clinical candidate. Michael's impact on many drug-design projects in numerous disease areas was demonstrated by, among other achievements, becoming a co-author of 42 published articles and a co-inventor on 11 U.S. and international patents.

Yingsi Chen (visiting Research Associate in the Department of Chemistry, Chemical Biology, and Biomedical Engineering) has over 10 years of drug discovery experience. She was a Principle Research Associate at Hoffmann-La Roche where she worked on lead optimization of drug candidates and high-throughput screening (HTS). She supported multiple discovery projects in the therapeutic areas of oncology, metabolic diseases, inflammation and virology. Her technical expertise is in development of biochemical assays of a variety of assay formats including ELISA, HTRF, FP, absorbance, and fluorescence. She developed and conducted biochemical assays to support lead optimization of over 20 discovery projects, including assay support for an advanced cyclin dependent kinase (CDK) Inhibitor project from lead series identified to clinical candidate selected. She was awarded a Roche Special Recognition Award in 2011 for her outstanding contribution to an inflammation project from assay development, HTS to lead series identification.