Cambridge Healthtech Institute and the PEGS Summit Team is honored to announce that David Baker, Director of the Institute for Protein Design; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator; Henrietta and Aubrey Davis Endowed Professor in Biochemistry; and Adjunct Professor of Genome Sciences, Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics at the University of Washington will give a plenary keynote address at the PEGS Boston Virtual Summit.

Tuesday, May 11 | 11:30 AM


The Coming of Age of De Novo Protein Design

David Baker, PhD, Director, Institute for Protein Design; Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator; Henrietta and Aubrey Davis Endowed Professor in Biochemistry; and Adjunct Professor of Genome Sciences, Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics, University of Washington

Proteins mediate the critical processes of life and beautifully solve the challenges faced during the evolution of modern organisms. Our goal is to design a new generation of proteins that address current day problems not faced during evolution. In contrast to traditional protein engineering efforts, which have focused on modifying naturally occurring proteins, we design new proteins from scratch based on Anfinsen’s principle that proteins fold to their global free energy minimum. We compute amino acid sequences predicted to fold into proteins with new structures and functions, produce synthetic genes encoding these sequences, and characterize them experimentally. I will describe the de novo design of fluorescent proteins, membrane penetrating macrocycles, transmembrane protein channels, allosteric proteins that carry out logic operations, and self-assembling nanomaterials and polyhedra. I will also discuss the application of these methods to COVID-19 challenges.

About the Speaker:
David Baker, Ph.D. is the director of the Institute for Protein Design, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, the Henrietta and Aubrey Davis Endowed Professor in Biochemistry, and an adjunct professor of genome sciences, bioengineering, chemical engineering, computer science, and physics at the University of Washington. His research group is a world leader in protein design and protein structure prediction. He received his Ph.D. in biochemistry with Randy Schekman at the University of California, Berkeley, and did postdoctoral work in biophysics with David Agard at UCSF. Dr. Baker is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Baker is a recipient of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, Irving Sigal and Hans Neurath awards from the Protein Society, the Overton Prize from the ISCB, the Feynman Prize from the Foresight Institute, the AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, the Sackler prize in biophysics, and the Centenary Award from the Biochemical society. He has also received awards from the National Science Foundation, the Beckman Foundation, and the Packard Foundation. Dr. Baker has published over 500 research papers, been granted over 100 patents, and co-founded 11 companies. Seventy-five of his mentees have gone on to independent faculty positions.

Wednesday, MAY 12 | 11:30 AM

Young Scientist Keynote

Cryo-Electron Microscopy Structures of Spike Glycoproteins Suggest Pan-Coronavirus Antiviral Strategy
toelzer_christineChristine Toelzer, Research Associate, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
We research antivirals to combat present and future coronavirus pandemics. We discovered linoleic acid bound to a hydrophobic pocket in the Cryo-EM structure of the SARS-CoV-2 Spike glycoprotein. Ligand binding locked the protein in a compact closed conformation. Conservation of key AA residues suggested a similar pocket exists in other pathogenic coronaviruses.

About the Speaker:
Christine Toelzer is currently a Research Associate at the University of Bristol. After a M.Sc. in biology and an additional M.Sc. in physics she continued with PhD work in biochemistry at the University of Cologne. Her research has always focused on structure function relationships, starting with structure determination of biotechnologically important proteins by x-ray crystallography, magnetic structure determination of inorganic compounds by neutron diffraction and recently using electron cryo-microscopy to obtain the structure of large protein complexes involved in transcription and diseases. In the last year (2020) she started coronavirus related work to contribute to the global effort aimed at better understanding the virus, and uncover its potential weaknesses.

Since 2017, the PEGS Boston Young Scientist Keynote recognizes outstanding work in the field of protein science by a current PhD Student, postdoc or someone who has completed a postdoc within the last five years.  These Keynote Presenters are selected through an extensive international nomination and review process each fall, and the speaker then presents a talk in a plenary session of the PEGS Boston event.

Past Honorees

2020: Jamie Spangler, PhD, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering and Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering, Johns Hopkins University
2019: Kathryn Hastie, PhD, Staff Scientist, Immunology and Microbiology, The Scripps Research Institute
2018: Kipp Weiskopf, MD, PhD, Resident Physician, Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
2017: Tim Whitehead, PhD, Associate Professor, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Colorado

THURSDAY, MAY 13 | 11:30 AM


Antibody and Vaccine Development for COVID-19


Erica Ollmann Saphire, PhDErica Ollmann Saphire, PhD, Professor, La Jolla Institute for Immunology


Peter Hotez, MD, PhDPeter Hotez, MD, PhD, FASTMH, FAAP, Dean, National School of Tropical Medicine; Professor, Departments of Pediatrics, Molecular Virology & Microbiology; Co-Head, Section of Pediatric Tropical Medicine; Health Policy Scholar, Baylor College of Medicine

Lakshmi Krishnan, PhDLakshmi Krishnan, PhD, A/Vice-President, Life Sciences, National Research Council Canada, Government of Canada

Peter W. Marks, MD, PhPeter W. Marks, MD, PhD, Director, FDA CBER