Orr, a chemical engineer with expertise in computational drug design, to screen and model drug-like compounds and molecules for Early Charm portfolio company, SIlcsBio

December 7, 2023, Baltimore, MD – Early Charm, a company that converts science into products in the areas of advanced materials, computational sciences and engineered products, today welcomed Asuka Orr – a chemical engineer with expertise in computational drug design and protein biologics formulation – as Scientist: Computational Drug Design.

In her new role, Orr will join Early Charm’s Drug Design team with an initial focus on working with Early Charm portfolio company, SilcsBio, a technology company that develops and markets software and services for structure-based drug design.

Orr will play an integral role in handling SilcsBio’s growing customer service work, plus will work in the screening and modeling of different drug-like compounds and molecules against various biological macromolecules (e.g., DNA, RNA, proteins) and guiding formulations of biologics.

Orr joins Early Charm following her work as a Postdoctoral Fellow with the MacKerell Lab, headed by Alex MacKerell, PhD, founder of SilcsBio and the Grollman-Glick Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and director of the Computer-Aided Drug Design Center at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy.

In her post-doctoral work with the MacKerell Lab, Orr focused on computer-guided excipient selection for protein biologics formulation, developing a Site Identification by Ligand Competitive Saturation (SILCS)-based protocol to screen excipient formulations minimizing viscosity and increasing shelf-life of biologics and a SILCS-based protocol to predict the effective charge of proteins in different salt environments.

The SILCS platform technology is SilcsBio’s proprietary product and service that advances computational drug design applications through detailed protein mapping, accounting for protein flexibility and solvation and enables highly efficient ligand binding evaluation and virtual screening.

“We’re fortunate Asuka, who’s a star in the computational chemistry and drug design fields, is joining our Early Charm team,” said Ken Malone, Executive Officer with Early Charm. “Asuka’s distinguished work in the MacKerell Lab, along with her experience developing novel biomaterials and promising therapeutics, will go a long way to fuel the continued growth of our Drug Design portfolio work.”

Prior to her work with the MacKerell Lab, Orr was a Graduate Research Assistant with the Tamamis Lab at the Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University, where she developed computational tools comprising MD simulations, energy calculations and structural analysis coupled with programs that strategize their execution.

Through these tools, Orr addressed challenges in molecular recognition, including differentiating enantiomer-protein binding, characterizing modified RNA-protein interactions, studying and designing affibody proteins with anti-amyloid properties, examining toxic compound adsorption to montmorillonite clays and elucidation of peptide self- and co-assembly.

Orr earned a BS in Chemical Engineering (with a Minor in Chemistry) and a PhD in Chemical Engineering with Texas A&M University. In the course of her academic career, Orr was the first or equally contributing first author to 19 scholarly publications and co-author of 15 publications.

About Early Charm:
Early Charm, founded in 2012 in Charm City (Baltimore), converts science into products in the areas of advanced materials, computational sciences, and engineered products. Learn more: www.earlycharm.com

Media Contact:
Ken Berlack
Early Charm