Pathogen Images

Institute Leadership

Celia A. Schiffer

Celia SchifferCelia A. Schiffer is a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School. She conceptualized an interdisciplinary approach to avoid drug resistance and co-founded the Institute for Drug Resistance. Dr. Schiffer has a BA in physics from the University of Chicago, Ph.D. in biophysics from University of California, San Francisco, with postdoctoral training at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland and Genentech, Inc. She has published 70 peer reviewed journal articles, using a combination of experimental and computational biophysical techniques to obtain key biological insights. Her laboratory primarily studies the molecular basis for drug resistance in HIV and more recently Hepatitis C. In addition to three NIH R01’s, she leads a renewed $8.6 million NIH program project grant: “Targeting Ensembles of Drug Resistant HIV Proteases.” Through her research, she has developed a new paradigm for avoiding drug resistance that likely translates to other diseases. This new paradigm is the basis for the design of novel picomolar HIV-1 protease inhibitors that are more potent in viral cultures of wild-type and resistant viruses than the leading HIV-1 protease inhibitor Darunavir. These novel inhibitors strongly support the premise: that by putting drug resistance first in development of drug design strategies, inhibitors can be developed that are more robust against drug resistance.

Celia Schiffer at UMass Medical School
Schiffer Laboratory Drug Resistance Publications

Margaret (Peg) Riley

Margaret (Peg) RileyMargaret (Peg) Riley is the founder and President of the Massachusetts Academy of Sciences, the CEO of the start-up biopharmaceutical company, Origin Antimicrobials, LLC, and professor in the Department of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 1989 and then held a faculty position at Yale University until her recent move to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research focuses on bacterial population genetics, genomics and ecology. In particular, she has contributed to the striking revelation that competing species can coexist if ecological processes such as dispersal and interaction occur over small spatial scales, which may be the case for non-transitive communities. The classic non-transitive system involves a community of three competing species satisfying a relationships similar to the children’s game rock-paper-scissors, where rock crushes scissors, scissors cuts paper and paper covers rock. Riley has conducted in vitro, in vivo and in silico studies that reveal that bacterial diversity is lost when dispersal and interactions occur over relatively large spatial scales, whereas all populations co-exist when ecological processes are local. Her most recent work focuses attention on the extraordinary levels and kinds of antibiotic resistance gene diversity segregating in bacterial populations recovered from remote regions. These data suggest that human pathogens already possess resistance to all commercially available antibiotics and that there is an, as yet, unexplored diversity of novel resistance genes. Her laboratory is now developing methods to identify the natural roles these resistance genes serve in bacterial communities and how they move between bacterial species and end up in human pathogens. Riley co-founded the Institute for Drug Resistance, which is devoted to exploring interdisciplinary approaches for tackling drug resistance. She also co-founded a biopharmaceutical company, Origin Antimicrobials, that has engaged in the design, and testing in animal models, of novel antimicrobials that directly address the pressing issue of resistance and provide ecologically sound solutions to the pending antibiotic resistance crisis.

Peg Riley at UMass Amherst
Massachusetts Academy of Sciences

Tien T. Bui

Tien T. Bui is the Principal and founder of Biozen Consulting. Ms. Bui is also an Advisor for the National Institutes of Health-Commercial Assistance Program (NIH-CAP) where she mentors numerous early stage companies on strategic commercial issues and investor relations. She has 18 years of experience in the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Industry having been extensively involved in all aspects of drug and technology commercialization. For seven years she was VP of Sales & Marketing and VP of Medical Affairs and Education for Virology and Oncology, at Monogram Biosciences (formerly Virologic). During that time she started Monogram’s first specialty sales force in HIV and was in charge of all commercial functions including payer relations, client services, medical marketing, clinical affairs & education and launched 3 new state-of-the-art technologies, increasing revenue by 25-fold. Before joining Monogram, Ms. Bui served in various commercial, health policy and strategic product development roles at DuPont and DuPont-Merck Pharmaceuticals from 1990 to 2000.

Biozen Consulting