Alum to talk on “Mysteries of Life: Transformational Drug Discovery

Tomi Sawyer, Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President of Drug Discovery & Innovative Technologies, Aileron Therapeutics, will deliver an  MSUM Distinguished Alumni Lecture Thursday, Oct. 14 at 4 p.m. in the Science Lab room 118 on the MSUM campus. Sawyer, a 1976 MSUM graduate, will talk on “Exploring the Mysteries of Life: Transformational Drug Discovery.” The talk and reception following are free and open to the public.

Sawyer will address the crossroads of his career in science, technology and medicine along with his quest for knowledge, reverence and truth. Some notable achievements in his drug discovery work over three decades will be highlighted, including the advancement of novel chemical and biological therapies for cancer.

Prior to joining Aileron Therapeutics, Sawyer rose through the scientific and management ranks at the Upjohn Company, Parke-Davis/Warner-Lambert, Pfizer Global Research & Development, and ARIAD Pharmaceuticals.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., Aileron Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company that recently entered into a $1.1 billion collaboration with Roche to discover, develop and commercialize a new class of drugs called Stapled Peptide Therapeutics. As part of this agreement, Roche will work with Aileron to develop drug candidates against up to five undisclosed targets selected from Roche’s key therapeutic areas, which include oncology, virology, inflammation, metabolism and CNS. Read more about Aileron and this exciting drug discovery partnership at

Tomi Sawyer Career Highlights:

  • Aileron Therapeutics: Stapled helical peptide drugs (recent $1.1B drug discovery collaboration with Roche)
  • ARIAD Pharmaceuticals: Two drugs in clinical trials (Ridaforolimus or AP23573, Ponatinib or AP24534) for cancer therapy
  • Pfizer Global Research & Development: First novel peptidomimetic and nonpeptide HIV protease inhibitors (U81749 and PD107067 – breakthrough lead molecules)
  • University of Arizona: Top Ph.D. Chemistry dissertation; first MSH peptide superagonist (Scenesse® marketed in Italy)
  • Adjunct professorships at University of Massachusetts, Northeastern University, and University of Michigan
  • Inventor of more than 70 issued patents and patent filings
  • Speaker at more than 150 scientific symposia and seminars
  • Author of more than 240 scientific articles, reviews, perspectives, editorials, commentaries, proceedings, monographs and books
  • Editor-in-Chief, Chemical Biology & Drug Design
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