SEP 24, 2014 08:00 AM PDT

Approaches to antibacterial discovery: New strategies and technologies to address a challenging field

  • Executive Director in the Infectious Diseases Area, Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research
      Dr. Jennifer Leeds is an Executive Director in the Infectious Diseases Area at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. As the Head of antibacterial discovery, Jennifer is responsible for leading the strategy and execution of the new antibacterial portfolio within NIBR. The mission of the group is to identify safe and effective new chemical entities against bacterial targets to address unmet medical needs in patients with severe and drug resistant bacterial infections. The areas of focus within her team include bacterial physiology and genetics, biochemistry and lead discovery, clinical microbiology, and new technologies for understanding antibacterial compound structure/activity relationships. Jennifer began her career at NIBR in 2003. As a Project Team Leader she led cross-functional international teams and successfully advanced a novel antibacterial compound, LFF571, from inception to clinical development. This molecule, of which Jennifer is a co-inventor, achieved a positive Proof of Concept in patients with mild to moderate C. difficile infections. Jennifer received her B.S. in Microbiology from Cornell University in 1991 and Ph.D. in Medical Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Jon Beckwith at Harvard Medical School in 2001.

    Antibiotics are among the most important advances in the history of modern medicine. They turned often acutely fatal infections into treatable indications with radical cures. Antibiotics continue to enable nearly all of the medical and surgical advances that we turn to as treatments for every human and animal disease. Yet our ability to develop safe and effective antibiotics is out-competed by natural selection as well as increasingly difficult challenges in identifying new, clinically-validatable targets and high value chemical starting points for new therapeutics. Some new strategies and technologies are allowing us to gather a deeper understanding of the biology of microorganisms both pathogens and resident flora as well as means to test chemical hypotheses to guide antibacterial SAR. The time is right and the tools are available or within reach for scientists within all types of organizations to make an enormous collective impact on this challenging field!

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