Profile of Dr Aarti Kawatkar
Aarti Kawatkar was trained as an organic chemist, obtaining her M.S. from the University of Georgia at Athens in 2005 with Prof. Geert-Jan Boons. She started her industrial career as a medicinal chemist at Vertex, and in 2008, she moved to AstraZeneca as a lead chemist in both oncology and the fragment based lead generation group contributing to the discovery of several clinical candidates. In 2013 she joined AstraZeneca’s newly created Chemical Biology group, focusing on small molecule target deconvolution and target engagement, supporting multiple drug discovery projects at different stages from hit identification to lead optimization to clinical candidates selection. In the chemical biology group, Aarti has championed the application of the CEllular Thermal Shift Assay (CETSA) and in-cell Chemoproteomics to measure cellular target engagement and target validation for multipass transmembrane protein receptors. Aarti’s efforts in studying difficult targets was recognized in 2017 with AstraZeneca’s Breakthrough Scientist of the Year award for "Innovative techniques for profiling target engagement and selectivity for multipass transmembarne proteins". Again in 2020, she was awarded for finding the target of a small molecule modulator of inflammation. Currently Aarti is leading efforts in finding novel targets through Fully Functionalized Fragment phenotypic screening and CETSA MS.