Delivery of Nucleic Acid Therapeutics: Biology, Engineering and Development

An ECI Conference Series

March 15-20, 2020
Grand Hotel Minareto
Siracusa, Sicily, Italy

Conference Announcement

Conference Organization

Conference Chairs:

  • Steven F. Dowdy, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine, University of California San Diego School of Medicine, San Diego, CA
  • Laura Sepp-Lorenzino, Ph.D., Executive Vice President, Chief Scientific Officer, Intellia Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA


Keynote Address: 

  • Tomas Kirchhausen, Ph.D., Professor of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
  • Mano Manoharan, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Distinguished Fellow, Innovation Chemistry, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge, MA

Confirmed Speakers:

  • Paul Burke, Ph.D., Principal, Burke Bioventures LLC, Boston, MA
  • Pieter Cullis, Ph.D., FRSC, Professor, University of British Columbia and Scientific Director & CEO, NanoMedicines Innovation Network, BC, Canada
  • Masad Damha, Ph.D., Professor, Dept. of Chemistry, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  • Tony De Fourgerolies, Ph.D., CEO, Evox Therapeutics, Oxford, UK
  • Dirk Grimm, Ph.D., Professor, Heidelberg University Hospital, Germany
  • Mark Kay,D./Ph.D., Professor, Depts of Pediatrics & Genetics, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA
  • Anastasia Khvorova, Ph.D., Professor, RNA Therapeutics Institute, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, USA
  • Art Levin, Chief Scientific Officer, Avidity Biosciences, La Jolla, CA, USA
  • Melissa Moore, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Moderna Therapeutics, Cambridge, MA
  • Cyrus Safinya, Ph.D., Professor, Materials and Physics, University of California Santa Barbara, USA
  • Margrit Schwarz, Ph.D., MBA, CSO and Head of R&D, Genevant Sciences, Cambridge, Massachsetts, USA
  • Punit Seth, Ph.D., Vice President Medicinal Chemistry, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Carlsbad, CA
  • Matt Stanton,D., Chief Scientific Officer, Generation Bio, Cambridge, MA
  • Ernst Wagner, Ph.D., Chair, Center for Nanoscience, Ludwig-Maximilian-Universitãt, Germany
  • Jesper Wengel, Ph.D., Professor, Nucleic Acid Center, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark

Interested? Get Involved!

Call for Abstracts          Deadlines:  Oral-Nov. 30; Poster-Dec. 15, 2019

Mark Your Calendar               Request for Next Mailing

Visa for Italy

Please send this link to colleagues who may be interested in the conference topic.

About This Conference

Synopsis:  Nucleic acid therapeutics (NATs), including ASOs, siRNAs, mRNA, Gene Therapy and Genome Editing, can precisely regulate, and potentially correct, gene expression in disease. As such, they can enable the development of novel therapeutic options for disease targets previously considered un-druggable by conventional small molecule and biologics means.

The NAT therapeutic revolution is ALMOST upon us. While major advances and recent regulatory drug approvals have been made with liver, CNS and eye delivery, delivery outside of these tissues remains the bioengineering technological problem to solve. Even for the most advanced clinical candidates using lipid nanoparticles, currently less than 1% of the NAT cargo is escaping from the endosome. For viral delivery, novel vectors with specific tropism, improved transduction efficiency and safety remain a major need.

It is widely recognized that there are significant gaps in our basic understanding of the mechanisms used by non-viral and viral delivery vehicles for tropism, uptake and trafficking in vivo, and how to best harness this knowledge to advance delivery for therapeutic use.

The ECI “Delivery of Nucleic Acid Therapeutics: Biology, Engineering and Development” conference will provide a forum for increasing our mechanistic understanding of the biological processes underpinning non-viral and viral delivery, including molecular and cellular biology, virology, in vivo pharmacology and toxicology, rational optimization strategies, targeting, formulation, bioengineering and process development solutions to scale-up and manufacturing, regulatory considerations and preclinical and clinical NAT programs.

The conference will bring together biologists, pharmacologists, chemists, biophysicists, drug developers, nanotechnologists, process engineers from academia and industry developing viral and non viral delivery strategies for the antisense, RNA interference, mRNA, Gene Therapy and Genome Editing, ex vivo and in vivo.

The major topics to be discussed are:

  • Mechanisms of cellular uptake and endosomal escape
  • Nucleic acid chemical modifications and conjugates to enable and enhance delivery
  • Liposomes and polymeric nanoparticle delivery vehicles
  • Viral delivery technologies
  • Targeting
  • Biophysical characterization method
  • Local and systemic nucleic acid therapies delivery case studies

The program will consist of invited and abstract chosen oral presentations and poster presentations.

Abstract Submission

The major topics to be discussed at this conference are:

  • Mechanisms of cellular uptake and endosomal escape
  • Nucleic acid chemical modifications and conjugates to enable and enhance delivery
  • Liposomes and polymeric nanoparticle delivery vehicles
  • Viral delivery technologies
  • Targeting
  • Biophysical characterization method
  • Local and systemic nucleic acid therapies delivery case studies

Please use these topics to pre-select one or two sessions where you believe your work fits best.

Abstracts (one page maximum) that include specific results and conclusions to allow a scientific assessment of the proposed oral presentation are invited.  Please prepared your abstract according to this template: docx or doc.

Abstracts must be submitted electronically using the template provided at THIS LINK.

Oral abstract submission deadline:                November 30, 2019

Poster abstract submission deadline:             December 15, 2019

Abstracts of all presentations will be made available to conference participants prior to the start
of the conference.

Note: Only a limited number of oral presentation slots are available and thus all submissions for oral sessions will be considered for both oral and poster presentation.

Awards will be presented to the top student posters.

Conference Venue

Siracusa, Sicily, Italy  Thanks to its geographical position, at the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily has always been a crossroads for different people and cultures. From the grumbling, lava-filled volcano of Mount Etna to the ancient Greek temples of Agrigento, Sicily is a land of natural and man-made beauty.

The countryside is filled with nature reserves and vineyards, all in a near-perfect climate, mild all year round, with an average rainfall among the lowest in Europe. But Sicily is not just about nature. The Greek temples, the Byzantine, Norman and Roman monuments, the cities of Palermo, Taormina, Catania, Siracusa and Agrigento, are places where the past and the present blend into an idyllic ensemble. Sicily surprises visitors at every step with its gorgeous beauty and immense cultural heritage. A huge number of castles and manors, private villas, ancient chapels and churches are there to be explored.

The town of Siracusa (45 km from Catania), known to English speakers as Syracuse, is a wonder to behold. One of the great ancient capitals of Western civilization, the city was founded in 734 BC by Greek colonists from Corinth and soon grew to rival, and even surpass, Athens in splendor and power. Siracusa became the largest, wealthiest city-state in the West and a bulwark of Greek civilization.

A World Heritage Site, this was the second Greek colony to be founded in Sicily in the second half of the 8th century B.C. Today, Siracusa is one of the most interesting cities in Sicily – the cradle of an incredible variety of art styles: from ancient Greek plays to the baroque. Crisscrossed by two legendary rivers, the Ciane and the Ananapo. Siracusa’s beauty and the mythology of the land have inspired poets and writers from Cicero to d’Annunzio.

Conference Hotel – Grand Hotel Minareto
A luxury, five-star seaside resort located near the island of Ortigia, The Grand Hotel Minareto is perched next to the crystal-clear waters of the Plemmirio Nature Reserve. There is a magnificent view of Siracusa which is just across the bay from the hotel and Mt. Etna seems to float in the sky above Siracusa..

The resort’s 93 rooms and 4 suites are cottages scattered around the luxurious Mediterranean grounds, a splendid setting dominated by the sea and the sky. The hotel has a number of bars and restaurants, a pool, private beach and spa. Rooms are air-conditioned and have televisions, mini-bars, safes and other amenities.

Please click here to watch a video introduction of Minareto Resort  

36 Hours in Syracuse, Sicily


Transporation Options from the Catania Airport to the Grand Hotel Minareto

Siracusa is in the southeast corner of Sicily, on Sicily’s east coast, about an hour south of Catania.  The closest airport to the Grand Hotel Minareto is Catania-Vincenzo Bellini Airport (CTA, It is 69 km from the hotel (about a one-hour drive).

You have several choices of transportation: Individual transfer, group transfer, train (and taxi), bus (and taxi), and rental car.

Nadia Davi ( of Liberty Incentives and Congresses, Italy is the contact person for those wanting to book transportation from the Catania Airport to the Gran Hotel Minareto.  Do not contact her for train, bus or rental cars.

Individual and Group Transfers

You can choose an individual transfer or a group transfer.  The group transfer will be organized by the expected time of arrival at Catania Airport within the range of one hour.  For example, if two people are arriving at 11:30 am and 6 people are arriving at 12:00 pm, then the transfer would be 8 people.  The rate of a “group” transfer is €45 per person for arrival hours between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm.  For arrivals between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am there is a night supplement of €13.5 per person.

An individual transfer (for one – three persons) in a private vehicle with driver is €90.  The night supplement is €27

Other requests will be quoted individually by Ms. Davi.

Please use this form when contacting Ms. Davi.

By Train

From Catania Station (Taxis can transport you from the airport to the train station) take a train to Syracuse (Siracusa). There are hourly trains from the train station in Catania to the train station in Siracusa.  The train ride is approximately 85 minutes.  Taxis can be hired at the Siracusa station for transfer to the hotel (about a 10-minuted drive). For schedules and fares visit

Siracusa’s train station is on Via G. Rubino (where Corso Umberto I and Via Ermocrate come together) in the “New City” mainland.  It is just south of the archaeological zone and about a dozen blocks west of the bridges to Ortigia (the “old town” on an island).

By Bus

Interbus ( runs buses to Sircusa regularly during the week from Catania to Siracusa and less frequently on Sundays.  Please visit their website for details.  This is the most economical way, although you will need to add a taxi at each end of your journey.

By rental car from Catania Fontanarossa Airport

(About 50 minutes) Get on E45 from SP701.  Follow E45 and the Catania-Siracusa highway (SS114) and take the “Siracusa Sud” exit from SS114 onto Via per Floridia/SS124 in Siracusa.  Continue on Floridia/SS124 until the next roundabout where you take the 2nd right onto Via Antonio Ascari.  At the next roundabout (Largo Primo Levi), take the second exit onto Viale Pantanelli (essentially following the main road).  At the roundabout at the Viale Paolo Orsi, turn to the right, Via Columba, (where there is a median strip of palms, and on the left you will see a McDonalds) and go straight until the crossroads where you make a right onto Via Elorina (on the left you will see a Bingo) which is now SS115.  Pass the Agip and QB petrol stations on your right and after about 500 meters pass the QB you will come to a roundabout where you will take the second exit onto Via Lido Sacramento.  At the next roundabout, take the first exit on Via Lido Sacramento. Continue straight onto Via La Maddalena which turns right and becomes Via del Faro Massollivieri.  You will see a sign for the Minareto and Nesos. Go straight on the coastal road and the hotel will be on the right.

Driving Directions

Endosomal Escape T-Shirts!


Shirts will be available when registration opens.

General Information About ECI

Engineering Conferences International (ECI) is a global engineering conferences program, originally established in 1962, that provides opportunities for the exploration of problems and issues of concern to engineers and scientists from many disciplines.

The format of the weeklong research conference provides morning and late afternoon or evening sessions in which major presentations are made. Available time is included during the afternoons for ad hoc meetings, informal discussions, and/or recreation. This format is designed to enhance rapport among participants and promote dialogue on the development of the meeting. We believe that the conferences have been instrumental in generating ideas and disseminating information to a greater extent than is possible through more conventional forums.

All participants are expected both to attend the entire conference and to contribute actively to the discussions. The recording/photographing of lectures and presentations is forbidden. As ECI conferences take place in an informal atmosphere, casual clothing is the usual attire.

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