Northwestern Events Calendar


Common Pitfalls in Drug Discovery

When: Friday, February 11, 2022
10:00 AM - 11:00 AM CT

Where: Online

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Sonia Kim   (847) 467-0446

Group: Innovation and New Ventures Office

Category: Training



·         Overview of activities and stages of drug discovery

·         Analysis of common pitfalls and failure modes that can derail programs

·         Discussion of some strategies to avoid and mitigate these failure modes



Please join us for the fifth INVOForward seminar during which Jim Audia (Founding Scientist, EVP Drug Discovery & Early Development Flare Theraptics, consultant EIR Third Rock Ventures) will provide an overview the stages of pre-clinical drug discovery, picking up from earlier presentations on target identification and validation, and discuss some of the most common pitfalls and failure modes that arise during the discovery stages of Hit Identification, Hit-to-Lead and Lead Optimization, candidate selection and IND-enabling studies. Leveraging experience across multiple drug discovery campaigns, Dr. Audia will highlight the importance of stage-gate criteria for progression from one discovery stage to the next as well as some of the difficulties that may arise along the way. He will describe the development and utilization of a compound testing scheme to drive the ongoing validation of the program as well as the continued optimization of the compound to identify and characterize high quality hits, leads and ultimately clinically competent development candidates. 

This seminar is part of the INVOForward Therapeutics lecture series focused on helping Northwestern researchers gain insight into how to build a compelling therapeutic data package. While the INVOForward mentorship program has four select faculty-led teams participating, the lectures are open to Northwestern Faculty, Post-docs and Students.

Other INVOForward lectures may be found here.



Jim Audia, PhD

Since September 2019, Dr. James E (Jim) Audia has served as President of Audia Consulting, LLC, through which he engages the biotech community to help enable and advance their drug discovery programs and portfolios. Since November 2019, Jim has been a part-time Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Third Rock Ventures, most recently joining Flare Therapeutics as a Founding Scientist and EVP of Drug Discovery and Early Development. He is also a Senior Advisor for Karuna Therapeutics, helping to advance their pre-clinical and discovery programs. From July 2017-October 2019 he served as Executive Director of the Chicago Biomedical Consortium, a collaborative effort of Northwestern University, The University of Chicago and The University of Illinois-Chicago, focused on enhancing biomedical innovation in the greater Chicago area. He joined the CBC after a nearly seven-year tenure as Constellation Pharmaceuticals’ chief scientific officer, where he oversaw the successful evolution of the company’s R&D efforts from a strong scientific base to a robust portfolio of clinical-stage assets and pre-clinical programs, including the BET bromodomain inhibitor Palabresib now in Phase 3 and a pair of clinically advanced EZH2 inhibitors. Dr. Audia had joined Constellation in January 2011 following a highly productive career in drug discovery at Eli Lilly and Company. He held several key leadership roles during his 23-year tenure at Lilly. As a Distinguished Lilly Scholar, the highest level of the company’s scientific ladder, he made seminal technical and strategic contributions to the Lilly drug pipeline. Over the course of his career, Dr. Audia’s scientific work has contributed to 18 clinical development candidates, including transformative contributions to neuroscience research through his discovery of both the first gamma secretase inhibitor, an industry-leading beta secretase inhibitor and a recently approved anti-migraine agent (Lasmitidan). Dr. Audia is a named inventor on more than 110 issued U.S. patents and has published and presented extensively. He received his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of South Carolina and completed postdoctoral training at Yale University before joining Lilly. Dr. Audia currently served as a board member for Constellation Pharmaceuticals until the company’s acquisition by Morphosys in July 2021, a board member and scientific advisor for Ribon Therapeutics, a board member for Enzyme by Design, a scientific advisor for the Tau Consortium of the Rainwater Foundation and for the Alzheimer’s Association, and is a visiting scholar at Northwestern University.


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