PEGS-The Chain Episode 51


In this special episode of The Chain, G. Jonah Rainey, Senior Director of Protein Engineering at Eli Lilly and Company, hosts a panel at PEGS 2023 to discuss strategies to engineer parameters for solid tumor-targeting T-cell-engagers. Guests Stephen J. Demarest from Tentarix Biotherapeutics, Michelle Morrow from F-Star Therapeutics, Inc., and Dario Neri from Philogen provide their insights and experiences on navigating challenges, researching treatments, and the positives and negatives of certain targeting strategies. They also answer questions from the audience and share their perspectives on the future of tumor-targeting and what technology can do to help with developing effective cures.


Stephen J. Demarest, PhD, CSO, Tentarix Biotherapeutics
Dr. Demarest is the Chief Scientific Officer at Tentarix Biotherapeutics, a company with a platform for delivering powerful biological activity directed in a highly targeted manner using affinity and avidity to achieve specificity. Prior to joining Tentarix in 2020, he held positions at Lilly, Biogen Idec, Diversa Corp., and Syngenta, working as a Protein Chemist/Engineer on antibody and protein therapeutics design and biochemistry. He performed his graduate work at SUNY Stony Brook, studying protein-folding mechanisms. He was an NIH-sponsored postdoctoral fellow at the Scripps Research Institute, studying the structure, folding, and binding of nuclear co-activator proteins. 

Michelle Morrow, PhD, Senior Vice President, Biology & Translational Science, F-Star Therapeutics, Inc.
Michelle Morrow is Senior Vice President of Biology & Translational Sciences at F-star Therapeutics, overseeing the company’s biology and translational sciences teams’ research activities ranging from discovery through to clinical phase programs. Major achievements during this time include progressing FS118, FS120, and FS222 from candidate selection into the clinic. She also plays a key role as a Project Leader for FS118, a LAG-3/PD-L1 bispecific antibody in Phase II clinical trials. Michelle joined F-star from Medimmune, where she was a Project and Team Leader between 2007-2017 and she successfully established an immuno-oncology preclinical modelling group supporting projects across the Medimmune and AstraZeneca portfolio. She led research project teams for several novel therapies within the Oncology portfolio, including FDA-approved ImfinziTM (durvalumab) and MEDI5752 (PD-1/CTLA-4 bispecific). Michelle received her PhD in Immunology from the University of Cambridge and completed her post-doctoral studies in leukemia research at the Institute of Child Health, London.

Dario Neri, PhD, CEO and CSO, Philogen
Dario Neri was born in Rome on 1 May 1963, but grew up in Siena (Italy). He studied Chemistry at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa and earned a PhD in Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zürich), under the supervision of Professor Kurt Wüthrich (Nobel Prize Chemistry 2002). After a post-doctoral research internship (1992-1996) at the Medical Research Council Centre in Cambridge (UK), under the supervision of Sir Gregory Winter (Nobel Prize Chemistry 2018), he became professor at ETH Zürich in 1996. Dario Neri is currently Full Professor of Biomacromolecules at the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences, ETH Zürich. The research of the Neri group focuses on the engineering of therapeutic antibodies for the therapy of cancer and other angiogenesis-related disorders and on the development of DNA-encoded chemical libraries. Dario Neri is a co-founder of Philogen (, a Swiss-Italian biotech company which has brought various antibody products into multicenter clinical trials for the treatment of cancer and of chronic inflammatory conditions. Dario Neri has published 400 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He is the recipient of the ISOBM Abbott Prize 2000, of the Amgen-Dompe’ Biotec Award 2000, of the Mangia d’Oro 2001, of the Prous Award 2006 of the European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry, of the Robert-Wenner-Prize 2007 of the Swiss Cancer League, of the SWISS BRIDGE Award 2008, of the Prix Mentzer of the French Medicinal Chemistry Society in 2011, of the Phoenix Prize 2014 and of an ERC Advanced Grant in 2015.


G. Jonah Rainey, PhD, Senior Director, Protein Engineering, Eli Lilly and Company
Jonah Rainey holds a PhD in Biochemistry from Tufts University and completed postdoctoral training at the University of Wisconsin and the Salk Institute. He has engaged in discovery, research, and development of bispecific antibodies for more than 15 years. He is an inventor on several patents describing novel bispecific platforms and current clinical candidates that exploit these platforms as well as an author on almost 30 publications. Jonah contributed to research and early development leading to multiple clinical candidates from Phase I and through approved products and led many advanced preclinical programs in oncology, infectious disease, autoimmunity, and other therapeutic areas. Previous industry experience includes MacroGenics, MedImmune/AZ, Oriole Biotech, Gritstone Oncology, and Alivamab Discovery Services. Currently, Jonah is a Senior Director in Protein Science at Eli Lilly & Co.

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