Moving Targets Symposium Focuses on Precision Medicine

With the theme of Precision Medicine, the 16th annual Moving Targets symposium on Thursday, Aug. 17 focused on advances in pharmacogenomics, utilizing precision medicine to improve the quality of drug development, and the pharmaceutical industry’s approach to precision medicine.

The USC chapter of the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) presents this daylong research symposium each year, enabling students to engage with leading scientific experts in a collegial setting. The 2017 event convened approximately 300 participants including students, faculty members and basic, translational and clinical researchers.

The keynote speaker was Jean Claude Zenklusen, director of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), the largest cancer genomics project. Other speakers included Yusuke Nakamura, whose work has had a significant impact on the progress of genomic medicine worldwide, Wolfgang Sadee, whose research focuses on discovery of genetic variants affecting disease risk and drug response, and Hani El Shawa, CEO of Alpha Genomix Laboratories, a state-of-the-art molecular diagnostics laboratory dedicated to personalizing medicine and patient care.

Moving Targets organizers Larry Rodriguez, Albert Lam, Aida Kouhi, Pooja Vaikari, and Santosh Peddi

The AAPS-USC student organizing committee was led by Chair Larry Rodriguez with Vice Chair Pooja Vaikari, Secretary Santosh Peddi, Social Chair Aida Kouhi, and Communications Chair Albert Lam. Associate Professor Houda Alachkar served as faculty advisor.

Transforming medicine from the bench to bed-side

“We hope to facilitate an exchange of knowledge and foster cross-disciplinary collaborations between the USC School of Pharmacy, Keck School of Medicine and USC Department of Chemistry,” said event chair Larry Rodriguez, a second-year PhD student in the pharmacology and pharmaceutical science program. “By answering the core question about how to transform medicine from the bench to bed-side in the post-genomics era, we can also inspire the next generation of young scientists here today,” he added.

Attendees included healthcare professionals, industry professionals, faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and even a few high school students.

Annie Wong-Beringer, Associate Dean for Graduate Affairs and Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs at the USC School of Pharmacy, said the graduate students who organized the event should be proud of their work to bring leaders from multiple disciplines together.

“Precision medicine is an emerging approach that allows clinicians and researchers to tailor treatments for patients,” she said. “To make it a reality, a convergence of science is necessary from experts across multiple disciplines.”

In addition to networking opportunities, student attendees could also participate in a poster competition that awarded cash prizes to top presenters.

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