Chair: Prof Simon E. Ward MA PhD
Simon Ward is the Sêr Cymru Professor in Translational Drug Discovery and Director of the Medicines Discovery Institute at Cardiff University. He has wide ranging experience of drug discovery in both major pharmaceutical companies, biotech & academia (GlaxoSmithKline, BioCrea, Knoll Pharmaceuticals, Vernalis, Chiroscience, University of Sussex, Cardiff University) and specialist experience of discovering and developing drugs for patients with neurological and psychiatric illness and against cancers. He has led multidisciplinary project teams & medicinal chemistry groups from early stages through to clinical studies, bringing multiple molecules into clinical development for a wide range of diseases.
Vice Chair: Dr Wendy Alderton PhD
Wendy is currently Early Detection Programme Manager at the CRUK Cambridge Centre at Cambridge University. Wendy has over 20 years of experience in diagnostics and in pre-clinical drug development in oncology and other therapeutic areas in biotechnology and pharma companies. Wendy has previously held positions at Abcodia Ltd, Summit plc, PIramed Ltd, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, UK and GlaxoSmithKline.
Honorary Treasurer: Dr Richard Davenport MSc, PhD, Post
Richard is currently a Senior Programme Leader at C4X Discovery working on Inflammation and CNS programmes. Richard has over 20 years' experience of drug discovery research and has previously held senior medicinal chemistry positions at Takeda Pharmaceuticals, UCB and Celltech working in the therapeutic areas of Inflammation, CNS and Metabolism.
Honorary Secretary: Dr Ruth Lock
Ruth is a Consultant and Director in DMPK and Clinical Pharmacology at AUCuba Sciences Ltd. She has extensive experience in a number of therapeutic areas for both small molecule and biologics. She has managed programmes from early discovery, through development up to marketing authorization and also licensed products and their life cycle management. She has previously held positions in the UK with Servier, Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Novartis and Takeda. Ruth has particular interests in the areas of inhalation and paediatric drug development.
Fundraising Officer: Dr James Ritchie PhD
James is currently a Drug Development Scientist at Cancer Research UK's Drug Development Office. He has been working in the field of oncology drug discovery and development since 2001, having worked previously at TopoTarget A/S (formerly Prolifix Ltd) for 8 years. James's interests are in the translational and clinical development of new anti-cancer agents covering everything from small molecules to immune therapies.
Development Officer: Dr Gregor Macdonald B.Sc., Ph.D.
Gregor is Senior Director of Scientific Licensing (Neuroscience), within Janssen Business Development, the Pharmaceutical Companies of J&J. In this role, he leads the global identification and evaluation of all clinical stage therapeutic opportunities in Neuroscience, particularly focussed on Alzheimer's disease, Mood disorders and Schizophrenia. Prior to this position, Gregor was Head of Neuroscience Medicinal Chemistry at Janssen, where he led discovery teams in Belgium and Spain towards the identification of clinical drug candidates in the fields of Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and order psychiatric and neurological disorders. In addition, Gregor was also extensively involved in identifying external drug discovery opportunities and prosecuting research collaborations with a variety of academic, biotech and pharma partners. Previously, he has worked within the Medicinal Chemistry depts. of GlaxoSmithKline and SmithKline Beecham, also in the CNS area, identifying several late clinical stage drug candidates. Gregor is also a co-author and co-inventor on over 110 scientific publications and patents and has been an invited speaker and panellist at several national and international conferences.
SMR Secretariat: Mr Stuart Hex
SMR Secretariat: Mr Chris Barron
Dr Mohammad Alavijeh PhD MSc BSc
Mo is director of research at Pharmidex. His background is in drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics with particular interest in neuropharmacokinetics. He has experience in drug discovery and early phase development in a number of therapeutic areas. He has previously held positions with Vernalis, Aventis and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer.
Dr Katherine Brown
Kate is a lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at Imperial College London. Her laboratory is part of the Centre for Molecular Microbiology and Infection located on the South Kensington campus. Her research principally involves structure-function studies of proteins from microbial pathogens with applications in vaccine and antimicrobial development.
Dr Michael Durrant
Mick is the Director of Business Development for MercaChem's Discovery and Development services in Europe. An organic chemist by training, he followed PhD studies at Leicester with a postdoctoral fellowship at Oxford, and subsequently forged a career in business development. For the past 16 years, he has worked variously for several CROs, notably Maybridge, Peakdale Molecular and Charles River, serving clients in the global pharma, biotech and lifescience sector with discovery support services across the spectrum of chemistry & biology, from early research to development & commercialisation.
Dr Farnaz Fallah-Arani
Farnaz is currently a senior group leader in the Therapeutic area of immunology at UCB Celltech in Slough and has experience in pre-clinical research and drug discovery of biologics and small molecules. Farnaz is an Immunologist by training and has a strong interest in the biology of autoimmune disease, immunemodulation and transplantation.
Dr Mike Hann
Mike has over 35 years experience of Pharma drug discovery activities with Roussel, Wyeth, GD Searle and Glaxo/GlaxoWellcome/GSK, initially as a medicinal chemist, then as a computational chemist and more recently in managing teams in structural biology, biophysics and bioMS and other sciences at the interface of chemistry and biology. He has contributed to the development of concepts in computational chemistry, fragments, attrition reduction and compound disposition in cells and maintains a keen interest in new methodologies but with a firm grip on the realities of the eternal challenge that drug discovery presents.
Dr Phil Jeffrey BSc, MSc, PhD
Phil is Senior Vice President of Preclinical Development at Bicycle Therapeutics and has over 35 years in experience of in the pharmaceutical industry. He has a successful track record in drug discovery from early lead optimisation through to clinical proof of mechanism and proof of concept across a wide variety of therapeutic areas and drug modalities. Phil previously held positions at Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, SmithKline Beecham and The Upjohn Company and is an Honorary Professor at the William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London.
Dr Juan-Miguel Jimenez
Juan-Miguel is Senior Director, Global Head of Medicinal Chemistry at Galapagos NV, where he's leading the Medicinal Chemistry Department over two sites in Mechelen (Belgium) and Romainville (France). Juan-Miguel has more than 20 years' experience in Medicinal Chemistry working in diverse therapeutic areas with strong background in immune-inflammation and oncology. Prior to taking up this new position Juan-Miguel worked at Vertex Pharmaceuticals (UK) and Almirall SA (Barcelona). In addition to Head of Department experience, Juan-Miguel has a strong background as Project Leader, leading several drug discovery projects to clinical candidate identification.
Dr Matthew Konneh
Matthew is founder and Lead Consultant of Konnsult Lifesciences Ltd, a UK based consultancy providing strategic and business development services to preclinical pharmacology and early clinical development CROs, and enables accelerated access to niche service providers for the global pharma-biotech industry. Matthew is based in London and has worked in in pre-clinical pharmacology (Novartis), clinical research ( Parexel, Biotrial) and strategic consultancy (Accenture) in the pharma industry for the past 20 years. He holds a PhD in Pharmacology and an MBA.
Dr John Overington
John studied Chemistry at the University of Bath (1987), and then completed a PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London in the Department of Crystallography (1990). There he developed automated approaches to protein modelling, contributing to the development of the programs COMPOSER and MODELLER; however his primary research was exploring sequence-structure relationships, exploring the constraints applied by the local physical environment of a residue in constraining mutational trajectory (JOY and HOMSTRAD). John then held a postdoctoral position at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now part of CRUK). John then joined Pfizer (1992), originally as a computational chemist, progressing to a role where he led a highly multidisciplinary group combining rational drug design with structural biology. During this time, John explored the reasons for target/drug attrition and the falling productivity of the pharmaceutical industry. In 2000 John moved to the biotech company, Inpharmatica, where he led the development of a series of computational and data platforms to improve drug discovery; these included the medicinal chemistry database StARLite. In 2008 John was central to the transfer of this database to the EMBL-EBI, where the successor is now known as the ChEMBL, where he took on a position as group leader. While at the EMBL-EBI, his work expanded into large-scale patent informatics with the Open patent database SureChEMBL. John then moved (2015) to a London-based Artificial Intelligence technology company - Stratified Medical (later renamed BenevolentAI), where he continued his translational drug discovery informatics research and development activities applying machine learning methods to the development of novel biomedical data extraction and integration strategies, and integrating deep learning and other machine learning approaches to drug target validation and drug optimisation. In 2017 John joined the UK's Medicine Discovery Catapult as CIO, where he leads the development and application of informatics approaches to promote and support innovative, fast-to-patient drug discovery in the UK through collaborative projects across the applied R&D community.
Dr Rod Porter
Rod is an independent medicinal chemistry consultant working with a range of clients. Previously Rod was a medicinal chemistry group and matrix programme leader, (GlaxoSmithKline, G. D. Searle) for over 25 years, involved in projects from target id to candidate selection and working in numerous therapeutic areas with particularly emphasis on the CNS. Amongst others, areas of interests include understanding effective drug distribution and protein-protein interactions.
Dr David C Pryde
David has been in the drug discovery industry for 20 years, working as a medicinal chemist in both a large pharma company and a small biotech. He has extensive experience in leading drug discovery projects from hit seeking through to clinical development candidates across a variety of therapeutic areas in both small molecule and synthetic biologic programmes.
Dr Peter Weber
Peter is Director at Immunocore Ltd. in Abingdon (Oxfordshire), where he's responsible for strategic leadership to advance Immunocore's auto-immune platform. Previously Peter worked for nearly 18 years at Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Europe) Ltd, where he contributed significantly to the foundation and growth of its UK site. Peter has a strong background in drug discovery, has led several drug discovery LO programs and has extensive experience in leading biology groups and multidisciplinary project teams. His main interests are in the areas of inflammation and oncology.
Dr Pamela Williams
Dr. Pamela Williams is an Associate Director in the Molecular Sciences group at Astex Pharmaceuticals. Pamela is a structural biologist working in X-ray crystallography and cryoEM, and has worked on many fragment screening campaigns in her 15+ years in industry.
Dr Stephen Wren
Dr Stephen Wren is highly experienced in medicinal chemistry and has worked on a diverse set of biological targets over many disease areas in several organisations (Xenova, Argenta Discovery and Summit plc). He has an extensive track record in project and team management, intellectual property, drug discovery in many therapeutic areas. An example highlight of Stephen's work was helping to lead the chemistry effort directed towards the identification of SMTC1100 (Summit's Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy drug, currently undergoing clinical evaluation).