Attendees from across China gathered on Oct. 26–27 for the first medicinal chemistry symposium cosponsored by the American Chemical Society Shanghai International Chemical Sciences Chapter, ACS Medicinal Chemistry Division (MEDI), and the Chinese Pharmaceutical Association (CPA) Medicinal Chemistry Division.
Held in a ballroom at the Renaissance Shanghai Pudong Hotel, the conference drew 212 registrants from more than 90 companies and universities. The conference theme was “Recent Advances from the Bench to the Clinic.”
Conference organizers provided Chinese audience members with headsets to listen to live translations of the talks, which were all given in English. About a quarter of attendees tried the translation service, which was provided in real time by translators who sat in an enclosure in the back of the room.
Hugh Zhu, a medicinal chemist at Novartis in Shanghai and chair of the ACS Shanghai chapter, and Amjad Ali, a medicinal chemist at Merck & Co. and representative of ACS MEDI, cochaired the conference.
“We believed our members and fellow chemists would be very interested to learn about current R&D practice in the industry and recent pipeline progress,” Zhu said. “Typically, these presentations were heard through meetings such as first-disclosure sessions at ACS national meetings. Our ideas were to bring those highly relevant presentations in a timely manner to Shanghai so more people could learn about them without the hassle of overseas travel.”
Planning began about a year before the meeting, Ali said. The goal, he said, was to invite speakers whose experiences could help train the next generation of medicinal chemists.
The speakers included well-known academic and industrial researchers from the US and China who shared their expertise in developing novel medicines to treat cancer, hepatitis C, depression, and diabetes. The talks emphasized not only the scientific aspects of drug discovery but also how these discoveries impact patients’ lives.
Kaixian Chen, president of the CPA MEDI and a medicinal chemist at the Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, highlighted this message by quoting two renowned pharmaceutical chemists in China and the US on medicinal chemistry’s role in human health: “ ‘Discover new drugs to treat diseases and relieve diseases for the people,’ said Chenggu Zhao, and ‘We try never to forget that medicine is for the people,’ George W. Merck said. How similar are the ideals of the two great men, whose ideals are the cause we are working together now,” Chen said, adding that he hoped the CPA and ACS would enjoy a long collaboration.
The organizers plan on the conference becoming a biennial event. “Overall the conference was a huge success,” Zhu said.