2019 SAPA Annual Conference

SAPA Annual Conference

Held annually to mark the anniversary of SAPA, this conference covers broad topics and interests in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Plenary and Parallel Sessions


Industry Leaders and Prominent Speakers


Companies and Corporate Sponsors



at a glance

2 Plenary Sessions

9 Parallel Sessions

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September 27th-28th, 2019, Somerset NJ, the Sino-American Pharmaceutical Professionals Association (SAPA) 27th Annual Conference was successfully held in Somerset, New Jersey. Marking the 26 year’s anniversary of SAPA, this conference features two plenary sessions and nine parallel sessions. 70 industry leaders and prominent scientists spoke and shared their thoughts and insights, covering diverse topics and perspectives in the pharmaceutical industry. Over 35 companies and 800 people attended this exciting event. 

Each day, the program kicked off with a plenary session, featuring an impressive line-up of speakers and executives. Dr. Martin Chalfie, 2008 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry and Professor at Columbia University, shared his journey with the discovery of GFP and underscored the importance of basic research and the continuing need for “useless” information. Dr. Mathai Mammen, Global Head of R&D at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, highlighted how data science will revolutionize the research and development of medicine by integrating big data, advanced analytics and real-world evidence. Dr. Dean Li, Senior Vice President at Discovery Science and Translational Medicine of Merck Research Laboratories, reflected how he made the transition from academic research to leading R&D efforts in the industry. Dr. Steve Yang, Executive Vice President and Chief Business Officer, WuXi AppTec, presented WuXi AppTec’s open-access platforms with industry-leading capabilities such as R&D and manufacturing for small molecule drugs, cell and gene therapies, testing for medical devices, and PROTAC based drug R&D. Dr. Peter Stein, Director at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research of FDA, illustrated changes in the drug development and regulation, and emerging trends and shifts from scientific, societal, statutory and regulatory that have changed the types of drugs, the types of programs, and approaches to regulation. Dr. Yi Feng,  Vice President of R&D and Chief Strategy Officer at Sichuan Kelun Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., discussed how China’s drug regulatory policies have evolved over the years and how pharmaceutical companies in China dealt with the dynamic regulatory environment. Dr. Andrew Chan, Senior VP Research Biology at Genentech, reviewed the lessons learned from development and clinical studies of B-cell targeting agents that looped back to bench, highlighting the progress made from bench to bedside and back.

In order to cover a broad range of hot topics and emerging trends, nine parallel sessions were thoughtfully designed to encompass business development, data science and data privacy, drug target R&D and innovation, CMC regulation, healthcare investment, and beyond. Specifically, a) Business Development Forum discussed how BD strategies should embrace today’s innovation dynamics and the globalization process, especially with a clear shift of China’s biopharma from me-too drugs to new drugs; b) Healthcare Investment Forum reviewed the global investment landscape and emerging trends, with a special focus on Cell and Gene Therapy and cross-border transactions; c) Data Privacy Compliance Update invited industry experts to discuss specific data privacy and security requirements related to health information, including HIPAA compliance, handling information obtained in research, and the use of “de-identified” data purchased for research purposes, as well as Federal Trade Commission requirements related to privacy/security assertions; d) Career Workshop dissected the importance of mentorship, with recommendations and practical advice on how to leverage business network for career development across different professional stages; e) Innovative Approaches and Modalities for Challenging Drug Targets zoomed in the most recent progress in disruptive technologies like DNA encoded library (DEL) and artificial intelligence, and novel modalities such as macrocyclic peptides, mRNA drugs, nanobodies and antibodies, antibody conjugates, personalized cancer vaccine, PROTACs as well as classical small molecules; f) CEO Forum, the flagship program of SAPA’s annual conference and a recurring session, hosted a roundtable discussion on industry trends and future growth; g) Critical Roles of Statistics and Programming in Drug Development depicted the perspectives of statistician colleagues from both industry and regulatory agencies on drug development and approval process; h) Clinical Development Session brought experts from pharmaceutical and biotech companies to present the latest advances in clinical development, including off-the-shelf NK cell products derived from placental hematopoietic stem cells for the treatment of hematologic malignancies and solid tumors, combination of checkpoint inhibitor and targeted therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) clinical development landscape; i)Pharmaceutical Development, CMC and Regulatory Session tuned in the current practices and regulations on CMC, which parallels clinical investigations and is important for drug development and regulation compliance. 

In order to recognize and promote outstanding leaders with great impact on biomedical and pharmaceutical industry in both the US and China, this year’s SAPA Distinguished Achievement Award is presented to Dr. Xiaodong Chen, Director of the National Institute of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Lawrence Yu, Deputy Director at the Office Pharmaceutical Quality of FDA. Also trainees including high school students, graduate and post-graduate students were awarded with SAPA scholarship and travel grant to support the career development of perspective pharmaceutical professionals.

Finally, SAPA held the election of President-Elect and Executive Committee for 2020 calendar year. Dr. John Sun was appointed as President-Elect, while Dr. Jerry Wansheng Liu was inaugurated as the 2020 President of SAPA. The new leadership team will continue their unwavering effort to serve the members of SAPA and pharmaceutical professional community.   

In the past year, SAPA chapters across the US have successfully held over 60 events and conferences promoting science, education, collaboration and career development. At the SAPA Annual Gala Dinner, Dr. Jijun Xing, Counselor Consul for Science and Technology and Chinese Consulate General in New York, congratulated the organizers, speakers and attendants on this successful conference. Dr. Xiaole Shen, SAPA President, and Dr. Jerry Wansheng Liu, SAPA President-Elect, expressed their appreciation to the tremendous support from our distinguished speakers, dedicated volunteers, and generous corporate sponsors. The SAPA Outstanding Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Jingyi Wang, CSO of Kelun Pharmaceutics, for his exceptional achievement as a pharmaceutical professional and constant support to SAPA. Marching into 2020, SAPA is committed to continue its dedication on hosting professional events and conferences, providing world-class platform for its members and sino-american pharmaceutical professionals.