Event Overview

Drug Discovery 2019 – Looking Back To The Future

Now in its 13th year, ELRIG’s flagship conference Drug Discovery 2019 will take place at ACC in Liverpool.

This year’s focus, ‘A Look Back to the Future’ is planned to include plenary introductions assessing how we got to where we are now and setting the challenges for discovering the drugs of the future.  These will be followed by cutting edge talks and examples of new directions in drug discovery.

Our scientific programme will feature over 40 world-class speakers with 6 main session tracks. In partnership with key academic and charitable groups, we will also run joint disease and biology-oriented tracks focusing on the basic sciences that underpin successful drug discovery.

Drug Discovery 2019 Plenary Keynote Speakers:

Mene Pangalos (AstraZeneca)
Fiona Marshall (MSD)

The tracks for Drug Discovery 2019 cover the following key areas:

Individual track overviews can be downloaded in pdf format from our resources page

Drug Discovery has become the largest meeting of life sciences industry professionals in the UK. This 2-day event will bring together more than 1200 delegates and over 100 exhibiting companies from around the world who will highlight the latest ground-breaking research, discuss cutting-edge advances in the application of laboratory technology to understand disease biology and to identify novel chemical and biological candidate drugs.

To maximize the interaction between delegates and exhibitors/sponsors, our programme includes scientific poster sessions, coffee/tea and lunch breaks that are located within the vendor exhibition area and a drinks/networking reception on the first day. The meeting is free-of-charge to all delegates and include complimentary refreshments and lunch.

If you have never been to Drug Discovery before, or missed last year’s event, you can view the Drug Discovery 2018 Programme.

Day 1
Track Overviews

Cellular Models of Disease  

Download the track overview in pdf format

Session chairs: Paul Andrews (University of Dundee) & Robert Vries (Hubrecht Organoid Technology)

Given that 90% of drugs in development fail to achieve approval – with 60% of this attrition due to lack of efficacy in clinical trials – new approaches to therapeutics discovery are needed. The cell can be viewed as the fundamental unit of disease where phenotypic readouts integrate information from intrinsic and extrinsic sources: the genome and epigenome along with the molecular and physical environment. In order to understand disease and discover new therapies, we need preclinical models that faithfully represent patients. Furthermore, we want to be able to interrogate biological states and behavioural responses at multiple scales potentially simultaneously – working at the subcellular, cellular, tissue and organ levels.

The identification of adult stem cells and methods to grow them in vitro, so called ‘organoids’, as well as directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells, patient-derived iPSC technology and precision genome engineering have transformed our ability to generate myriad cell types in both the diseased and healthy states and recapitulate at least some aspects of disease in vitro. Recent organoid clinical studies have shown that these patient derived models are directly representing the clinical responses of the associated patients. In addition, the advent of 3D culture in vitro is now opening up the possibility of near-physiological tissue organisation that increasingly is resembling other aspects of the native function. Together, the new models represent a powerful in vitro platform for preclinical drug discovery and validation and a tool for precision medicine as well as finally allowing the long-term promise of personalized medicine. In this session we will cover a range of different examples of uses of these advanced systems and give attendees insights into this rapidly developing area of biology.

Chemical biology – re-defining target tractability and therapeutic class

Download the track overview in pdf format

Session chairs: Marcus Bantscheff (Cellzome) & Satpal Virdee (University of Dundee)

In recent years chemical biology approaches have re-defined therapeutic class and chemical tractability of proteins. Notably, event-driven pharmacology and novel classes of therapeutics offer great promise for targets previously considered undruggable. In this session exciting new concepts in chemical biology and opportunities for drug discovery with tangible potential to improve patient health will be discussed.

Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

Download the track overview in pdf format

Session chairs: Ola Engkvist (AstraZeneca) & Hugo Ceulemans (Jansen pharmaceuticals)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now being applied everywhere at least according to the news. Needless to say that also includes drug discovery. In this session we would like to give the audience a sense of what is going on in applying AI and machine learning (ML) in drug discovery by covering several important aspects. The background and historical development of ML and AI in drug discovery will be presented. We will also take a look at the most important ingredient to successfully apply ML and AI in drug discovery project, namely the data and how it can be integrated. Applying ML to large datasets is an important topic that pushes the current machine learning algorithms to the limit. Another important topic to be covered is the integration of ML/AI with automation and the sizeable synergy effects when combining them. Finally, application of deep learning in drug design has now become common, so it is time to hear from a medicinal chemist expert if there has been any real impact on the drug design process or if it just has been another hype.

Targeting Ion Channels for Drug Discovery hosted by the British Pharmacological Society

Download the track overview in pdf format

Session chairs: Sarah Nickolls (GlaxoSmithKline) & David Kendall (Pharmnovo)

Drugs targeting ion channels are an important component of many medicine cabinets, but over the past 10-15 years active programs targeting ion channels in the pharmaceutical industry have fallen and a perception may exist that these are difficult proteins to drug. However, significant progress in understanding ion channel pharmacology and structure is being made, which leads us to suggest that this target class is currently being under exploited. Therefore, in this symposium we will look at some of the recent progress in targeting ligand and voltage gated ion channels in disease.

Day 2
Track Overviews

Molecular and Cellular Imaging

Download the track overview in pdf format

Session chair: Michael Hennig (leadXpro)

Visualization of biological structures has been of great impact to the understanding of biological mechanisms including drug action. This session covers a number of cutting-edge technologies to facilitate the structure determination from small molecules (chemical compounds by electron diffraction of nano-crystals) to large biological complexes with drug candidates investigated by X-ray crystallography and cryo-Electron Microscopy. Time resolved and multi-conformation analysis gives insight into drug binding and associated molecular dynamics visualizing pharmacological response. Extension of the methods to the imaging of cells by cryo-EM tomography and Mass spectroscopy will give exciting new perspectives for the understanding of diseases.

Biomarkers Strategies in Drug Discovery

Download the track overview in pdf format

Session chairs: Sally Price (Medicines Discovery Catapult) & Ian Pike (Ian Pike Consulting)

The use of clinical biomarkers has grown exponentially since they were first employed in the 1970s.  The sequencing of the human genome and development of omics technologies have significantly accelerated the development and adoption of biomarkers in drug discovery and development, aswell as clinical decision making.  Biomarkers for precision medicine in oncology has probably seen the greatest benefit from this technological innovation with new developments continuing to push boundaries.  Biomarkers in other disease areas are now following behind the precedent set in oncology.  These are facing different challenges but have significant potential to facilitate better treatment options for patients.  This session will discuss how appropriate, well validated, biomarkers will drive a reduction in drug attrition in all therapeutic areas over the next few decades.

Hit Finding Strategies

Download the track overview in pdf format

Session chairs: Philip Gribbon (Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME) & Rosemary Burke (Institute of Cancer Research)

The process of identifying small molecule hits which are suitable for subsequent optimisation into leads and eventually candidates is a critical stage of the drug discovery workflow. In this session, we will hear from industrial and academic experts on their organisations’ approaches taken to find high quality starting points for a range of biochemical targets and phenotypic readouts. Talks will cover strategies and case studies, including the use of fragment-based and biophysical readouts, experiences of new and enabling technologies, as well the systematic use of phenotypic assay formats utilising iPSC derived cellular models of disease.

Oncology in Drug Discovery hosted by Cancer Research UK

Download the track overview in pdf format

Session chairs: Graeme Walker (Cancer Research UK) & Heather McKinnon (Beatson Institute for Cancer Research)

CRUK is a leader in funding cancer research across the UK, supporting basic research to unravel the mechanisms by which cancer cells survive and grow. To ensure this science is rapidly and effectively translated into new treatments for patients, CRUK also funds a number of Drug Discovery Units (DDUs) to work closely with basic scientists within their institutes and across the CRUK network. These groups provide industry standard research covering all stages of the drug discovery process from early validation studies, through hit finding, lead optimisation and into clinical development. CRUK currently has more than 30 agents in pre-clinical and clinical development and six drugs already on the market being used to treat patients. In this track you will hear about a number of the projects currently being prosecuted by the drug discovery groups, taking both small molecule and antibody approaches. You will also gain an insight into the type of technology that enables drug discovery today to advance on some of the really challenging targets that are likely to have a substantial impact on cancer therapy.

Early Career Professional Activities at Drug Discovery 2019

Careers in Drug Discovery: Where to next?

Are you a post-doc, postgraduate, early career researcher/ professional (ECP) scientist looking to start or build your career in drug discovery? If so, understanding the wide array of opportunities and career paths for you beyond academia, and how to make that step, is critical to your success.

We invite you join us at our ECP panel discussion event at ELRIG DD 2019, Europe’s largest free to attend Drug Discovery conference

  • Listen to panelists as they discuss and share their experiences and personal stories in making this transition
  • Increase awareness of different roles and career paths in the drug discovery industrial community
  • Learn more about support and skills enhancing
  • Meet other ECP scientists & expand your network
  • Prepare for an exciting next step in your career!

Careers in Drug Discovery: Network like a Boss

Are you a post-doc, postgraduate, early career researcher/professional (ECP) scientist looking to start or build your career in drug discovery? If so, building and managing your network of contacts is critical to your success.

We invite you join us at our ECP speed networking event at ELRIG DD 2019, Europe’s largest free to attend Drug Discovery conference

  • Speed meet 1:1 with selected representatives across the drug discovery community, including pharma, biotech, CROs, non-for profit and more
  • Learn how to network effectively
  • Increase your awareness of roles and career paths in the industrial & academic sectors
  • Expand your list of contacts and potential future employers
  • Open new doors to an exciting future

Careers in Drug Discovery: Your CV for Industry

Are you a post-doc, postgraduate, early career researcher/professional (ECP) scientist looking to start or build your career in drug discovery? If so, writing a compelling, industry relevant curriculum vitae is critical to maximize your chance of success

We invite you join us at our ECP CV workshop event at ELRIG DD 2019, Europe’s largest free to attend Drug Discovery conference

  • Learn from industry hiring managers, employer internal recruiters and recruitment consultants as to the key requirements of your CV
  • Get practical advice and feedback on your CV and optimize to be ‘industry appropriate’
  • Meet other ECP scientists & expand your network
  • Prepare for the next exciting step in your career!
Register FREE for Drug Discovery 2019

Conference Venue:

King’s Dock,
Port of Liverpool,
Kings Dock St,
L3 4FP

Postcode for SATNAV: L3 4BX 


Travel & Accommodation

DD19 accommodation can be booked through our partner Reservation Highway by following the link below, completing the attached booking form or contacting them direct.


Tel +44 (0)1423525577
Email: admin@reservation-highway.co.uk
Fax : 01423 525599

ELRIG cannot recommend or endorse any of the hotels offered by Reservation Highway

Drug Discovery 2019 Platinum Sponsors
Thought Leader Sponsor
Industry Insider Talks
Drug Discovery 2019 Gold Sponsors
Drug Discovery 2019 Silver Sponsors
Drug Discovery 2019 Bronze Sponsors
Drug Discovery 2019 Exhibitors
Drug Discovery 2019 Innovation Zone
Drug Discovery 2019 Career and Media Partners