Scientific Advisory Board
Michael N. Hall
Michael N. Hall received his Ph.D. from Harvard University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Pasteur Institute (France) and the University of California, San Francisco. He joined the Biozentrum of the University of Basel (Switzerland) in 1987 where he is currently Professor and former Chair of Biochemistry. Hall is a pioneer in the fields of TOR signaling and cell growth control.
In 1991, Hall and colleagues discovered TOR (Target of Rapamycin) and subsequently elucidated its role as a central controller of cell growth and metabolism. The discovery of TOR led to a fundamental change in how one thinks of cell growth. It is not a spontaneous process that just happens when building blocks (nutrients) are available, but rather a highly regulated, plastic process controlled by TOR-dependent signaling pathways. As a central controller of cell growth and metabolism, TOR plays a key role in development, aging, and disease. Hall is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and has received numerous awards, including the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences (2014), the Canada Gairdner International Award (2015), and the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research (2017).
Dennis Gillingham is Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Basel where his lab studies DNA encoded library development, mechanisms of chemical DNA damage and repair, and the chemical biology of targeted protein degradation. His research has identified a fundamentally new way that metals can inflict DNA damage.
By initiating an innovation outreach program in the Department of Chemistry, Dennis has fostered a close connection of the University to the biotech and entrepreneurship sectors of the Basel region. He also serves as an external panel member for Innosuisse, the translational research arm of the Swiss National Science Foundation. Dennis holds a PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from Boston College.
Thanos Halazonetis holds a Dental Degree from the University of Athens and a PhD Degree in Genetics from Harvard University. He worked at Merck, Sharp & Dohme as a Research Fellow, before joining the faculty of the Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania. In 2006, he joined the University of Geneva as Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology.
His research has always focused on cancer; after studying the p53 tumor suppressor and the responses of cells to DNA double-strand breaks, his research has focused on oncogene-induced DNA replication stress and the pathways by which cells repair collapsed DNA replication forks. He is an elected member of EMBO and of Academia Europaea.
Dirk Laurent MD, serves as Head of Global Clinical Development Oncology at Merck KGaA / EMD Serono. In this role he is responsible for the Clinical Development of all oncology pipeline assets of the company from First in Human up to Phase 3, and beyond.
Dirk is a MD who received his medical training in Internal Medicine and Radiation Oncology at the Medical University Clinics in Berlin and Göttingen, Germany. His first industry position was with Schering AG where he served as Global Clinical Lead with increasing responsibilities covering all aspects of early and late oncology development. From 2007-2019 Dirk worked at Bayer, first as Head of Clinical Development Oncology, where he supervised the development of Bayer’s late-stage oncology pipeline assets, then as Head of the Experimental Medicine Oncology group, where he was responsible for the global early clinical portfolio in Oncology from First in Human trials until Proof of Concept. From 2017 – 2019 he headed the Translational Medicine Oncology department, overseeing Early Clinical Development including Clinical Biomarker and Clinical Pharmacology. Before joining Merck KGaA in 2022, Dirk has been working for Berlin-Chemie / Menarini, as Medical Director of Research and Development Oncology and Head of the Therapeutic Area Oncology, responsible for strengthening and building up the early and late oncology pipeline.
Patrick obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 2001 from the University of Pennsylvania. Following completion of his Ph.D., he began his career at Pharmacia in the Neuroscience chemistry group and following the 2003 acquisition of Pharmacia by Pfizer, he moved to the Groton site. As a scientist, project leader and manager in the Groton Neuroscience chemistry group, Patrick led multiple programs into clinical trials. In 2011 he became a design head in neuroscience medicinal chemistry driving project delivery in support of the neuroscience portfolio.
In 2016, Patrick became the head of the Neuroscience Medicinal Chemistry group and in 2017 the head of the Internal Medicine Medicinal chemistry group which includes the Applied Synthesis Technology group. In 2020, his responsibilities increased to include the discovery network group and the anti-viral medicinal chemistry efforts targeting protease inhibitors for COVID-19 leading to the discovery of Paxlovid. Patrick is the author and inventor on over 70 publications and patents.