Jason Ekert, PhD

In Vitro In Vivo Translation, GlaxoSmithKline, USA


Dr. Jason Ekert is Senior Director, GSK Fellow and Head of the Complex In Vitro Models (CIVM) group at GlaxoSmithKline. He is responsible for an integrated enterprise strategy for R&D applications of complex human-relevant and translatable complex in vitro models (eg Spheroids, Organoids, Microphysiological systems and bioprinting). He leads a crossfunctional matrix team at GSK that is a multi-disciplinary team which coordinates activities, collaborates externally, and identifies ready soon platforms that can positively impact the GSK portfolio.

Before joining GSK, he worked at Janssen in biotherapeutic drug discovery in target discovery, drug validation and mechanism of action studies applying complex cell-based assays across multiple therapeutic areas. Jason received his PhD from Adelaide University. Post-doctoral training was performed at University of California, Davis and Coriell Institute for Medical Research.

He’s currently the past chair for the IQ-MPS affiliate and co-leads the regulatory working group. He is a member of the Society for Lab Automation and Screening (SLAS) and Society of Toxicology (SOT).

Title keynote lecture:

A pharmaceutical perspective on adoption of microphysiological systems


There is a surge in demand for development and validation of disease relevant and physiological human microphysiological systems that can be implemented in early stage drug discovery, thereby shifting attrition of future failures to a point in drug discovery where the costs are significantly lower and where it could impact animal usage for safety and pharmacological testing. The majority of new complex in vitro technologies that promise to be influential and more predictive in the next few years need to be qualified and repurposed for drug discovery efforts. I will provide examples of where we have utilized multi-dimensional 3D cell culture approaches (eg Organoids and Microphysiological systems), to create more patient centric models in both safety and pharmacology to better characterize targets and progress molecules earlier in drug discovery. Finally, I’ll discuss where there are opportunities to speed up the implementation/adoption process of Complex In Vitro Models through working with regulatory bodies or interactions with consortia such as the IQMPS affiliate, or other Microphysiological systems organizations.