Plenary Speakers

“Bio-Nano-Chip” Technologies for Point of Care Testing of Drugs and Metabolites

John T. McDevitt, Ph.D.

Monday, September 23, 0915-1015

John McDevittJohn T. McDevitt is the Brown-Wiess Professor of Chemistry and Bioengineering at Rice University and is a pioneer in the development of “programmable bio-nano-chip” technologies. Since joining Rice in 2009, McDevitt’s group has focused primarily on development of portable diagnostic devices that have potential to replace high-cost, lab-based, time-consuming diagnostic tests for both resource scarce settings where traditional laboratory measurements are not practical as well as for developed countries that are seeking to reduce health care costs. McDevitt’s recent research has been supported by major programs funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Cancer Prevention Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United Kingdom’s Home Office Scientific Development Branch. McDevitt and his team have written more than 170 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and have contributed to more than 150 patents and patent applications. This work was recognized with the “Best of What’s New Award” in the Medical Device Category for 2008 by Popular Science as well as for the “Best Scientific Advances Award” in 1998 by the Science Coalition. Dr. McDevitt’s individual honors include the Presidential Young Investigator Award, the 2010 California Polytechnic Distinguished Alumni Award and the Exxon Education Award. McDevitt now serves as the Principal Investigator for 6 major clinical trials and 2 clinical pilot studies all involving the programmable bio-nano-chip. Through these clinical efforts mini-sensor ensembles are being developed for major diseases in the areas of cardiac heart disease, trauma, drugs of abuse, oral cancer, ovarian cancer and prostate cancer. With CPRIT funding McDevitt has recently established the “Texas Cancer Diagnostics Pipeline” and serves at the Director for the newly formed “Early Disease Detection Gulf Coast Consortium Cluster” thereby creating a network of over 100 clinical researchers devoted to next generation of affordable diagnostics. McDevitt serves as the Scientific Founder for several companies in areas related to medical microdevice technologies.

  • Understand the challenges and opportunities for new medical microdevice technologies as they related to clinical and research settings.
  • Understand Bio-Nano-Chip Technologies for Point of Care Testing of Drugs and Metabolites.
  • Understand the unique opportunities for noninvasive testing of drugs and metabolites using these new technologies.

Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Cancer Treatment

William E. Evans, Pharm.D.

Tuesday, September 24, 0930-1030

William EvansDr. William E. Evans is Director and Chief Executive Officer of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital (SJCRH), and is a Professor at the University of Tennessee Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy.

For the past 30 years, his research at St. Jude has focused on the pharmacogenomics of anticancer agents in children, for which he has received three consecutive NIH MERIT Awards from the National Cancer Institute (1987-2015). The major disease focus of his research is acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children.

Dr. Evans has authored over 300 articles and numerous book chapters. He has received several national awards for his research, including the 2009 Pediatric Cancer Award from the ASCO (shared with Mary V. Relling of SJCRH) and the 2009 Team Science Prize from AACR (shared with colleagues at St. Jude), the 2011 Remington Medal from APhA and the 2013 Oscar B Hunter Award from ASCPT. He is recognized by ISI as a “Highly Cited Scientist” in pharmacology, based on citations of his research publications being in the top 1%. He was elected to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences in 2002.

Dr. Evans has served as CEO of SJCRH since 2004, during which time St. Jude has been ranked annually in the top 10 best places to work in academia by The Scientist magazine, ranked the #1 Children’s Cancer Hospital by USNWR and Parent Magazine, and in the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work.


At the end of the presentation, the participants will be able to:
  • Understand the challenges in moving genomics into clinical practice.
  • Understand the potential for pharmacogenomics to improve cancer treatment.
  • Understand why both inherited (germline) and acquired (somatic) genome variation is important in cancer.

Human Genomics a Decade after the Human Genome Project: Opportunities and Challenges

Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D.

Wednesday, September 25, 0915-1015

Eric GreenEric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D. is the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a position he has held since late 2009. NHGRI is the largest organization in the world solely dedicated to genomics research. Previously, he served as the NHGRI Scientific Director (2002-2009), Chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch (1996-2009), and Director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center (1997-2009).

While directing an independent research program for almost two decades, Dr. Green was at the forefront of efforts to map, sequence, and understand eukaryotic genomes, including significant, start-to-finish involvement in the Human Genome Project.

Now, as Director of NHGRI, Dr. Green is responsible for providing overall leadership of the Institute’s research portfolio and other initiatives; this requires significant coordination with other NIH components and funding agencies. Most recently, Dr. Green led NHGRI to the completion of a strategic planning process that yielded a new vision for the future of genomics research, entitled Charting a course for genomic medicine from base pairs to bedside (Nature 470:204-213, 2011).


At the end of the presentation, the participants will be able to:
  • Review the history of human genomics.
  • Discuss current progress in human genomics.
  • Describe likely scenarios for making human genomic medicine a reality.

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health

Bethesda, Maryland, USA

The Human Genome Project’s generation of a reference human genome sequence was a landmark scientific achievement of historic significance. It also signified a critical transition for the field of genomics, as the new foundation of genomic knowledge started to be used in powerful ways by researchers and clinicians to tackle increasingly complex problems in biomedicine. To exploit the opportunities provided by the human genome sequence and to ensure the productive growth of genomics as one of the most vital biomedical disciplines of the 21st century, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is pursuing a broad vision for genomics research beyond the Human Genome Project. This vision includes using genomic data, technologies, and insights to acquire a deeper understanding of genome function and biology as well as to uncover the genetic basis of human disease. Some of the most profound advances are being catalyzed by revolutionary new DNA sequencing technologies; these methods are producing prodigious amounts of DNA sequence data as part of studies aiming to elucidate the complexities of genome function and to unravel the genetic basis of rare and complex diseases. Together, these developments are ushering in the era of genomic medicine.

The Science Needed to Run an Olympic Laboratory – the Experiences of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

David Cowan BPharm, PhD, FRPharmS

Thursday, September 26, 0915-1015

David CowanProfessor David Cowan is the Director of the internationally renowned King’s College London Drug Control Centre which he co-founded in 1978. The Centre has been in the forefront of introducing advances in anti-doping science for many years. The Centre recently successfully delivered the analysis of the samples collected for the comprehensive drug testing of the athletes taking part in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games at which the new biomarker test for the use of human growth hormone resulted in the disqualification of two athletes.

The Drug Control Centre is the only WADA accredited laboratory in the UK and one of just 33 world-wide. It is part of the Department of Forensic Science and Drug Monitoring at King’s College London, which he helped to found and was its first Head. The department runs the world-leading M.Sc. in Forensic Science and, more recently, the M.Sc. in Analytical Science for Industry and the M.Sc. in Analytical Toxicology.

Professor Cowan holds a Chair in Pharmaceutical Toxicology and is a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society. He was awarded the International Olympic Committee Trophy for Ethics in Sport in 1998. Last year he was awarded the Media Personality of the year by King’s College London and was runner up in the Excellence in Innovation and Impact category.

He has published extensively in the field of pharmaceutical analysis especially in relation to the detection and quantification of drugs and their metabolites in complex body fluids and detecting drug administration in sport.


  • Translating research into validated assays suitable for evidential analysis to the ISO 17025 accredited standard
  • Scaling up an operation ten-fold – precautions for maintaining quality.
  • Training new staff in a short time frame to handle volume work.
  • Identifying the unknown rapidly and reliably.

In this presentation I will share with you how, having been awarded the work to deliver the anti-doping analysis for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we set about the task in hand. I will cover how we evaluated the latest technologies and undertook the research necessary to deliver the most up to date scientific approaches with the reliability and certainty required for this forensic application. The biggest difficulty was making critical decisions on sample results that could impact on the life of an athlete within the short time-frame allowed without the luxury of time given to the lawyers who might challenge the result.