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

Tuesday, March 4 2014
8:00 am – 10:00 am

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

Please join us for the second Forum in this series to hear academic investigators discuss applications of their research animal models for collaborative initiatives with biotechnology industry that could accelerate the translation of early stage candidates into drug discovery and development programs.

Academic research leads to development of novel animal models that provide 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:

Nick Andrews, PhD, Instructor & Manager, Pain Core & Neurodevelopmental Behavior Cores, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Broadening the scope of tests for measuring chronic pain in rodents”

Anna-Liisa Brownell PhD, Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School and Director of the Experimental PET Laboratory, Martinos Biomedical Imaging Center, Department of Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital

“Experimental in vivo imaging in preclinical applications”

Chris Dulla PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Tufts University School of Medicine

“Understanding pathological processes in the injured cerebral cortex: models and molecules”


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


This Forum is presented by the Drug Discovery Working Group.


Speaker Bios:

Nick Andrews, PhD, Instructor and Manager of the Pain Core & Neurodevelopmental Behavior Cores, F.M. Kirby Neurobiology Center, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School

Nick is an experienced in vivo neuroscientist and manager, having worked in the field of behavioral pharmacology for 23 years.  He recently transitioned from pharmaceutical drug discovery to academia where he currently manages two preclinical behavioral Core facilities at Boston Children’s Hospital; the Chronic Pain Core and the Neurodevelopmental Behavior Core (NBC).  He has expertise in the pre-clinical evaluation of therapeutic agents for CNS disorders using behavioral, neurochemical and physiological techniques.  He obtained his degree in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Bradford where he specialized in Pharmacology and then obtained a PhD from The Wellcome Trust Psychopharmacology Research Unit, Guy’s Hospital, London working under Professor Sandra File studying the behavioural and neurochemical consequences of acute withdrawal from chronic benzodiazepine treatment.  Following 3 years of post-doc research studying the effect of pre- and postsynaptic 5-HT1A agonism on anxiety in rodents, Nick became a team leader at Parke Davis in Cambridge, UK where he managed a group of scientists studying the neurochemical and behavioral consequences of combining the neuropathic pain treatment, Gabapentin with morphine since it was believed that even though the combination may synergistically enhance analgesia, it may also result in enhanced dependence liability. The technique heavily utilized by his team was in vivo microdialysis of freely moving rodents and specifically they studied the effects of the pharmacological combinations on levels of dopamine overflow in the nucleus accumbens.  After Parke Davis he worked for Organon in Scotland as a team leader in Neurobiology and managed a team of neurochemists and behavioural pharmacologists supporting all in vivo neurochemistry to elucidate mechanisms of action of antidepressants and antipsychotics.  The team also supported translational efforts by measuring neurochemical content of CSF sampled from conscious rodents.  From Organon Nick took a position at Pfizer, Sandwich in the Pain and Sensory Disorders Department and among other duties he worked as lead scientist on work package 2 of the IMI Europain pre-competitive consortium to develop new models and end point measures for assessing pain in rodents.  Specifically he developed a new, non-evoked end point for measuring pain in rats and mice which is now being used by a number of laboratories around the world.  He also re-introduced the microdialysis technique specifically applying it to the study of analgesics and pain on levels of glutamate in the anterior cingulate region of the brain of conscious rodents and also spinal cord of anaesthetized rodents. As such Nick believes in the need for continued advancement in development and understanding of in vivo end points (behavioral and physiological) to improve predictive validity of compound efficacy.  His background in in vivo neurochemistry and his position as manager of the NBC gives him a unique opportunity to provide research input and intellectual guidance to many different projects.

Anna-Liisa Brownell PhD, Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School and Director of the Experimental PET Laboratory, Martinos Biomedical Imaging Center, Department of Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital

Anna-Liisa Brownell, PhD is Professor of Radiology, Harvard Medical School and Director of the Experimental PET Laboratory at the Martinos Biomedical Imaging Center, Department of Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Brownell received PhD in Medical Physics from University of Helsinki, Finland. She was the Chief Medical Physicist at the University Central Hospital of Helsinki before coming to United States as a Visiting Scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She established an Experimental PET Imaging Laboratory at the Department of Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital and relocated her laboratory to the Athinoula A Martinos Biomedical Imaging Center in 2009. Her research interests have been to develop PET imaging techniques including imaging ligands, instrumentation and data analysis in experimental models of which results have been translated in collaborative efforts to clinical diagnostic and therapeutic approaches. Dr. Brownell is committed to educate public about present and future potentials of brain imaging especially using multimodality imaging approaches. Her primary research endeavor has been neurodegenerative disorders. She is a board certified nuclear medical physicist in USA and medical physicist in the European Union.

Chris Dulla PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Tufts University School of Medicine

Chris Dulla, PhD is an assistant professor in the department of Neuroscience at Tufts University School of Medicine and has been independently running his own research program for three years. Throughout his career he has focused specifically on understanding the synaptic mechanisms which underlie epileptic network activity. Dr. Dulla received his doctoral training in the lab of Dr. Kevin Staley at University of Colorado where he focused on the role of adenosine in mediating CO2-induced changes in excitability and network activity. During this time he implemented the use of a complex adenosine biosensor, carried out 2-photon pH imaging, and gained experience performing electrophysiological experiments. He then moved to Stanford University where he received post-doctoral training in the lab of Dr. John Huguenard. Here he continued his studies of epilepsy focusing on how cortical malformations disrupt cortical glutamatergic neurontransmission. During his time at Stanford he developed a technique for imaging glutamate signaling in brain slices. He was the first to perform such studies and has now implemented this technology to image glutamatergic connectivity and glutamate reuptake. He was fortunate to then be recruited to Tufts University as an assistant professor in 2010. Dr. Dulla has now established his own research group focusing on molecular and cellular underpinnings of epileptogenesis. During his time at Tufts he has set up a functioning electrophysiology and imaging lab and has expanded his experimental expertise to include biochemistry, immunohistochemistry, and in vivo EEG recording. His group has been exploring glutamate transport in the developing cortex, how glutamate reuptake is altered by cortical malformations, and the role of astrocyte secreted factors in mediating epileptogenic processes, and loss of the APC protein as a cause of infantile spasms.

Masha Fridkis-Hareli MSc, 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.

Share MassBio