Speakers - San Francisco Symposium 2019

Gautam Agnihotri

Senior Director, Research Service Division

WuXi AppTec

Dr. Gautam Agnihotri has more than 18 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. After graduating with a Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, he joined SmithKline Beecham (now GSK) as a post-doctoral scientist in 2000, where he worked in the area of HTS assay development for anti-infective targets. He joined NeoGenesis, Inc. in 2002 where he was part of a group that provided biochemical and cell assay support for external collaborations as well as internal discovery programs.
After NeoGenesis was acquired by Schering-Plough, he joined the HTS group of Schering-Plough in 2006, where he supervised assay development, screening, data analysis, and post-HTS followup for a wide variety of target classes from diverse disease areas in both medium throughput (96/384) and high-throughput (1536) formats.
After the acquisition of Schering-Plough by Merck, Dr. Agnihotri joined the In Vitro Pharmacology group at Merck Research Labs in Kenilworth, NJ in 2010. He led a team in the Biochemistry/Biophysics group to develop assays and determine mode of action for multiple protease targets and then moved to the Screening Operations team in 2012 where he led a team of compound management scientists, automation engineers, and biologists. He left Merck in June 2014 to join WuXi AppTec, and is currently Senior Director in the Research Service Division.
Dr. Agnihotri’s skills span the areas of biochemistry and enzymology, as well as medium and high-throughput screening, automation, data analysis and reporting. In his current role, he helped in the establishment of WuXi AppTec labs in New Jersey and is leading biochemical/biophysical assay development and optimization.

JW Feng, PhD

Director of Discovery Data Science

Denali Therapeutics Inc.

JW is passionate about applying computer science to solve problems in drug discovery. He has been leveraging expertise in software development and molecular modeling to invent new drugs to treat unmet medical needs. His passion for informatics empowers drug discovery scientists by removing both technical and behavioral barriers to organizing, sharing and analyzing data. In the last four years, JW built Denali’s molecular modeling and informatics group to support both small molecule and biotherapeutics discovery. Key contributions from his team lead to inventions of multiple drugs entering clinical trials. Prior to Denali, JW was a Scientist at Genentech supporting small molecule drug discovery. JW received bachelor of science degrees in Computer Science and Biochemistry at The Ohio State University. After college, he was seduced by the Y2K rage and joined IBM as a software engineer only to realize his true love was to apply computer science to solve problems in biology. He found that at Washington University in St. Louis where he developed a systematic ligand docking algorithm that decouples sampling and scoring. He also experimentally tested hypotheses generated by molecular dynamic simulations and gained expertise in solid phase peptide synthesis, protein NMR, and calorimetry.

Benjamin Horning

Senior Scientist


Benjamin Horning (Benji) was born in Portland, Oregon. He received his undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at the University of Oregon, working with professor Michael Haley studying metallabenzenes. He then performed graduate studies with professor David MacMillan at Princeton University, where he studied the total synthesis of the akuammiline alkaloid natural product Vincorine. His postdoctoral studies, with professor Benjamin Cravatt, focused on the development of methyltransferase photoaffinity probes. He began work at Vividion immediately following his postdoctoral studies, beginning in June of 2016. One of his many job functions at Vividion is to manage Dotmatics functionality, including user administration, form building, data analysis, project views and templates, and training.

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