Date: 22 July (Thursday)
Time: 10:40 – 12:10 (GMT+8)
Professor, UCLA School of Medicine
Dr. Tsai was a faculty at Harvard Medical School and now professor at UCLA School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences. His expertise in brain science, psychiatry and management started with education at National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan, Johns Hopkins Medical School and Carey School of Business, Baltimore, Maryland. Trained at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital, world rank teaching hospitals of Harvard Medical School in general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry, he is a diplomate of American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology on both adult and child psychiatry. He is elected to fellow of American College of Neuropsychopharmacology and is a member of Society for Neuroscience. He has published more than one hundred scientific articles with fourteen thousand citations as well as more than one hundred patents. His pioneer research opens the field of glutamatergic treatment for brain disorders; he is the first to report the therapeutic efficacy of NMDA modulation for a wide variety of CNS disorders; that set the tone of this line of novel treatment. The new therapeutic classes he validates include: full and partial agonists of NMDA receptor, inhibitors for glycine transporter inhibitor and D-amino acid oxidase. These discoveries are the corner stone of the pharmaceutical venture of SyneuRx (TT6575), founded in 2013, which now has a world-leading pipeline in CNS therapeutics. Recently, he discovered an array of novel chemicals that are inhibitor of 3CL protease for processing of SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins and TMPRSS2 for viral entry. These therapeutic entities will advance the therapeutic options for COVID-19.
Human diseases are an ever-evolving history of interaction among pathogens (biological or chemical) carriers (air, food, insect, animal, etc.) and human social networks. The pandemics in human history are as much history of pathogen evolution as history of social networks at play. A pandemic comes from a novel pathogen AND the social networks that the pathogen exposes the society’s vulnerability it strikes. Modifying social networks is remarkably difficult. Exuberant complacency or disintegrated social network are the natural outcome, instead of effective adaptation, and almost always took charge of the society with a protracted course in hundreds and occasionally thousands of years. COVID19 pandemic is dangerous to mankind not only due to its rapid global transmission, but also compounded by the inequality of counter measures that can be adopted in social networks, preventive vaccine and biopolitical mobilization. That will lead to geopolitical unbalance of powers and warfare can ensue earthshakingly. At the same time, the science and discovery come with COVID19 is a feast for scientists. For example, in the last months of 2020 scientists around the world began to see mutant strains with 10s to 20s mutations. Some of the new mutants can spread faster, to evade immunity, or even both. Within six months, the new mutants, from Alpha to an undetermined Greek alphabet, are attacking the social networks in global scale relentlessly. It is fast and dynamic. Alpha, appeared in Britain in September, 2020. By November, scientists were becoming alarmed of its rapid transmission; the “reproductive number” of Alpha was reckoned to be about twice as large as the Wuhan strain at 4-5. Evidence of Beta, identified in South Africa renders AstraZeneca vaccine futile. The Gamma variant ravages South America. Delta, estimated in unvaccinated populations, its reproductive number may be as high as eight. The mutant in the catastrophic Indian epidemic, with much higher viral load, raised the transmissibility bar yet further that shaken the second most populated country to its knee and tear. Strikingly, only two months after it first appeared, Delta had almost fully displaced Alpha and threatening the most vaccinated society in England. It is now parading the rest of the world. Fortunately, studies of vaccines made by Western companies show them to reduce deaths and severe cases in people infected with every mutant. However, the repaired social networks are ensuring the number of infections to climb paradoxically, while the vaccination can have the morbidity and mortality in check, for now. Therefore, variants make vaccination programs more urgent than ever. Otherwise, certain degree of immune escape is expected, such as E484K and P681R in Delta to infect people who have been vaccinated. Overall, given the global immunization is far away, there is ample time and evolutionary room for the virus to maneuver under the new context of biopolitical world. Pancoronal therapeutics for the mutant from Alpha on are becoming a necessary defense once the immune escape happens.