I trained as a synthetic organic chemist with Jeremy Robertson at Oxford University and received my D.Phil in 1996 on free-radical methodology and studies towards a total synthesis. Since then I worked at AstraZeneca until 2008 as a medicinal chemist working in areas of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, diabetes, neurology and anti-infectives. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work at Södertälje in Sweden for three years, in addition to Alderley Edge, in the UK, with AZ and led teams and sections across the drug discovery continuum in Lead Generation and Lead Optimization. In 2008 I joined Medicines for Malaria Venture, a product development partnership, based in Geneva, Switzerland, with the mission to discover, develop and deliver new antimalarials for the world’s poor.
Consequently, I’ve been involved in research for over 22 years. I originally joined the pharmaceutical industry because I passionately believe in using my scientific skills to improve the lives of others. Working at MMV is an extension of this, but is particularly special because we are working in such a neglected area of research, for patients who cannot afford expensive medicines. I see it as a real privilege to have the opportunity to do what I do; the mission is so powerful and provides an irresistible focus for me and the wider team; it is literally life-changing. I have admired and respected the work of colleagues at LSTM for the last 10 years, and have served on the Scientific Advisory Committee for the AWOL, as well initiated a collaboration with IVCC, and so I am so delighted to have been awarded an Honorary Research Fellowship with the institution. My hope and vision, with the support of LSTM staff, is to grow the next generation of translation scientists and to contribute towards areas of research that can have the greatest impact.
I’m an inventor on over 35 patent applications and, in addition, have published over 70 papers and book.
I currently lead MMV’s Drug Discovery team which is responsible for discovering and delivering the next generation of antimalarial compounds for preclinical and clinical evaluation. We are only able to do this because of the amazing work of my Discovery colleagues at MMV, and the tremendous collaborations that we have with over 35 partners globally, including LSTM. Key aspects of my role are drug discovery and medicinal chemistry input into projects, articulating the antimalarial drug discovery strategy and raising the profile of MMV externally to help raise funds for our critical work.
I have lectured on the malaria landscape, the priorities and challenges for the future, and target product profiles as part of the M.Res module that is an Introduction to Translational Research in Global Health at LSTM. As someone who has benefitted from cross-functional, multi-disciplinary training and interaction to deliver small molecule therapeutics into human studies as potential new medicines, I am passionate about training and mentoring students and post-docs in drug discovery and translational research.
I am a fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and a member of the American Society of Tropical Medicines and Hygiene. I regularly review for a broad range of scientific journals, serve on review committees as well as review proposals from various donor and funding organisations for neglected tropical disease, malaria and tuberculosis drug discovery and development.