2 Days, 2 Knights: Sir Philip Cohen Speaks About the Ubiquitin Proteasome System Today

Sir Elton John gave an inspiring and eye-opening keynote speech yesterday about the success and shortcomings of HIV/AIDS research, and I know many of us are still thinking about how we can further the science and make the necessary improvements in education to make a difference. Today, BIO is featuring Sir Philip Cohen, another Knight of the British Empire, often seen as the ‘father’ of kinase biology/phosphorylation research, and one of the most cited scientists in Europe. Sir Cohen, Director of the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, University of Dundee, and Director of the Scottish Institute for Cell Signaling, is speaking in a Breakout Session this morning titled ‘Where to Find the Drugs: The Ubiquitin Component Systems, Are They the Next Generation Kinases?’ He is cited as saying “I am very confident that the (Ubiquitin Proteasome System) market has the potential to become even bigger than Kinases.” The speaker lineup at this 10:00 a.m. session is impressive, including Dr. Frank Mercurio, CSO, BioTheryX, Dr. Mark Manfredi, Director of Cancer Pharmacology, Takeda/Millenium, Prof. Mike Tyers, CH Waddington Professor of Systems Biology at Univ. Edinburgh, Dr. Giovanni Ferrara, ITI Life Sciences Advisory Board, and Dr. Sheridan Snyder, Founder, BioCatalyst International.
This session was organized by the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, the Scottish Institute for Cell Signalling (SCILLS) and ITI Life Sciences, and is supported by Scottish Development International. I sat down with Neil Wilkie, Programme Manager at ITI Life Sciences on Tuesday, to discuss their involvement in the session and UPS in general. Neil said that ITI is literally an “Intermediary Technology Initiative” in which the Scottish government has earmarked 150M £ over a period of 10 years to promote the growth of biotechnology in the region. He explained that ITI did an exhaustive and highly analytical search of the scientific and patent literature a few years ago to determine the ‘next big thing’ in drug discovery. They found a ‘sweet spot’ with the UPS system, with mentions of it in the literature rapidly rising, but with room in the intellectual property space for them to start carving out a niche in the area, towards the goal of stimulating growth in Scotland Biotech. Perhaps coincidentally, Sir Cohen lives and works in Scotland and obviously thinks there is something behind their assessment. I think this session is a ‘must see’ and I will be there! It begins at 10:00 a.m. today in Room B304, and if you can’t be there you can look for live updates from me on Twitter at @comprendia.

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