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Sara Cherry, PhD

Keynote Title: Antiviral discovery pipeline: COVID-19 and beyond

Sara Cherry, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Scientific Director of the High-throughput Screening Core and Director of the Chemogenomic Discovery Program in the School of Medicine. She obtained her BS with Dr. Peter Schultz at Berkeley, her PhD with Dr. David Baltimore at MIT and her postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Norbert Perrimon.

Upon starting her laboratory at Penn she has applied High-throughput Screening technology to discover mechanisms by which emerging viral pathogens hijack cellular machinery while evading defenses. She has identified innate immune mechanisms and cellular interactions between viruses and cells comparing and contrasting viral families.  More recently, she has uncovered new insights into the interplay between metabolic regulation, the microbiota and immune defense. Given the recent pandemic, her laboratory has now applied her screening platform to study the emerging coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 identifying new antivirals active in the respiratory tract. She has uncovered antivirals active through distinct mechanisms including innate immune modulators, direct acting antivirals and host directed antivirals. By comparing antivirals across related and unrelated viruses she has identified synergies between antivirals that may be leveraged for combination therapies.