From Academia to Industry Part I: Using Animal Models in Pre-Clinical Drug Development

Thursday, January 23 2014
8:00 am – 10:00 am

Location: MassBio, 300 Technology Square, 8th Floor, Cambridge, MA

Please join us for the first of a two part Forum to hear academic investigators discuss applications of their research animal models for collaborative initiatives with biotechnology industry aiming at accelerating translation of early stage candidates into drug discovery and development programs.

Academic research leads to development of novel animal models that offer investigators with tools for testing their hypotheses in curing human diseases. These models are instrumental not only for scientific or mechanistic applications but also for studying the effects of drug candidates on the course of experimentally-induced disease conditions. Due to the growing number of collaborative initiatives between academic institutions and industry sectors, many animal models have been developed and are now available for biotechnology use. Partnering with academic service providers offers flexibility, scientific expertise and cost-effectiveness. Most importantly, these collaborations lead to long-term relationships as a key to efficient, productive and ultimately successful outcomes.

The speakers will address animal models for translational research:

Aygul Balcioglu PhD, Instructor, Neuroscience group, Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders, Harvard Medical School

Characterization of animal models for Parkinson’s disease and dystonia

Paul Davies PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Tufts Medical School

Biochemical, electrophysiological, and behavioral studies on the effects of neurosteroids on extrasynaptic GABAA receptors: Potential therapeutic targets for Fragile X Syndrome.


  • Masha Fridkis-Hareli MSc, PhD, Founder and President, ATR, LLC


This Forum is presented by the Drug Discovery Forum Working Group.


Speaker Bios:

Aygul Balcioglu PhD, Instructor, Neuroscience group, Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Balcioglu’s principle research interest is the regulation of synaptic communication. In her graduate work she undertook studies to develop methodology to characterize the kinetics of nitric oxide production in vivo. Her Ph.D. dissertation described how to stabilize this very reactive unorthodox molecule using hemoglobin-trapping approach. After obtaining her Ph.D. in Pharmacology with a minor in Medicinal Chemistry from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, she trained with Prof. Richard Wurtman, a pioneer in nutrition and synaptic neurotransmission, at MIT.  In his laboratory she examined and gained insights into dopaminergic signaling and its regulation by genes, proteins and neurochemicals. After her postdoctoral training she was offered an Instructor position at Harvard Medical School in the Neuroscience group at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Neurodegenerative Disorders, where she characterized variety of animal models for addiction, Parkinson’s disease, dystonia and ADHD. Her lab describes reliable biochemical endpoints to improve predictive validity of compound efficacy and accuracy of interpretation of genetic mutations in animal models. It also provides services for pharmacokinetic studies of candidate and established drugs for variety of disorders. Dr. Balcioglu has 17 peer-reviewed articles, 4 book chapters and is a referee for six peer-reviewed neuroscience journals.

Paul Davies PhD, Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Tufts Medical School

Dr Davies obtained his BSc in physiology and a pharmacology PhD at Dundee University in Scotland, conducting patch-clamp studies for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. For his PhD, Dr Davies was a Research Graduate Scholar at Organon Research Laboratories where he studied the effects of test cardiac compounds on voltage-gated potassium and calcium channels in ventricular myocytes. Dr Davies performed his post-doctorial studies at the Department of Anesthesia, University of California Los Angeles, and the Department of Pharmacology, The George Washington University. As a post-doctorial researcher Dr Davies was involved in the Human Genome Project, identifying and characterizing several new subunits in the Cys-loop ligand-gated ion channel superfamily including 5-HT3 and GABAA receptor subunits. Dr Davies then worked in the Anesthesiology Department at Massachusetts General Hospital examining the interactions of anesthetics with 5-HT3 receptors. He then moved to Tufts Medical School, Department of Neuroscience where he runs the electrophysiology group studying how neurosteroids regulate neuronal tonic inhibition. Recently, Dr Davies has begun an initiative at Tufts to offer drug screening, target validation and neurotoxicity services using the core facilities and expertise within the Department of Neuroscience.


Masha Fridkis-Hareli M.Sc., PhD, Founder and President, ATR, LLC

Masha Fridkis-Hareli is an immunologist, consultant and inventor with over 20 years of experience in academia and industry. She holds a B.A. from the Technion, an M.Sc. from Hebrew University and a Ph.D. from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. During her post-doctoral training at the Harvard University she designed and developed a group of novel compounds for treatment of autoimmune diseases currently in Phase II clinical trials. After serving as Principal Investigator at the Molecular Immunology Foundation at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, she transitioned to industry where she held a variety of positions with increasing responsibilities at a number of biotechnology companies and contract research organizations including Resolvyx Pharmaceuticals, Charles River Laboratories, Taligen Therapeutics and Alexion Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Fridkis-Hareli is a co-author of over 100 publications and 13 issued patents. She is an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate Biopharmaceutical Leadership Program at Emmanuel College teaching a course on research in a global environment. Dr. Hareli is a Founder and President of ATR, LLC that provides strategic and operational services in translational research. In addition to her professional affiliations, Dr. Fridkis-Hareli is actively involved on boards of several women’s professional organizations and has recently served as President of the Association for Women in Science in Massachusetts.




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