Small Molecular Drug Discovery Case Studies

Peter Cherepanov (Group Leader Chromatin structure and mobile DNA Laboratory, Crick) Peter Cherepanov

Research in Peter's laboratory focuses on essential mechanisms involved in retroviral replication with the emphasis on DNA integration and virus-host interactions. Peter obtained his PhD degree from the University of Leuven (Belgium) in 2000. After a postdoc at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston, MA) he established his independent research group at Imperial College London in 2005. He joined Clare Hall Laboratories of the London Research Institute in 2011, before moving to the Francis Crick Institute in 2016.

Puja Pathuri (Associate Director in the Molecular Sciences Group at Astex Pharmaceuticals)Puja Pathuri

Astex Pharmaceuticals is a fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD) company in Cambridge, United Kingdom.  Previously Puja received her B.S. in Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2002 and received her Ph.D. in Biological Sciences in 2007 at the University of California, Irvine (UCI).  Before joining Astex Pharmaceuticals in 2010, she completed a 2-year postdoc at the ETH in Zürich, Switzerland in the Richmond lab.

Nuska Tschammer (Subject Matter Expert (SME) at Crelux, a WuXi AppTec Company in Munich, Germany) Nuska Tschammer

Prior to joining Crelux, Nuska was Head of Research and Development, Biochemistry at NanoTemper Technologies, where her contributions led to the development of new generation of dyes for the MicroScale Thermophoresis (MST). During her tenure in Medicinal Chemistry at Friedrich-Alexander University, Erlangen, Germany, where she managed a group of PhD students, her research on the allosteric modulation of GPRCs was funded by several grants of German Research Foundation (DFG), resulting in many publications and patents in the field of allosteric modulation and early drug discovery.  She received various prices and awards, among them Innovation Award in Medicinal Chemistry, which is jointly awarded by Society of German Chemists (GDCh) and German Pharmaceutical Society (DPhG).


Alastair Lawson (Vice-President and Senior Fellow, UCB)  Alastair Lawson

Alastair joined Celltech in 1983, having obtained a Ph.D. at the Tenovus Research Laboratory at Southampton General Hospital in the UK, working on a patient-specific, antibody-based, therapy for B cell leukaemia.

He has been closely involved with the discovery of UCB/Celltech’s therapeutic antibodies, including Mylotarg, Cimzia, Evenity, Besponsa, dapirolizumab pegol, olokizumab, bimekizumab and rozanolixizumab.  Alastair led the development of UCB’s proprietary antibody variable region discovery platform, and is now applying structure-based, rational design to antibody discovery.

He pioneered UCB’s small molecule protein/protein interaction initiative, in which information derived from antibodies is applied to the discovery and design of new chemical entities.  Current research interests include the use of function-modifying antibody fragments to define specific conformations of target proteins, linking X-ray crystallography, molecular dynamics simulations and antibody technology to small molecule fragment screening.

Svend Kjaer (Structural Biology, Science Technology Platform Deputy, Crick) Svend Kjaer

Svend earned his PhD from the University of Aarhus working on phage display of antibodies. He did a first post-doc at the Karolinska Institute on neurotrophic factor signalling (GDNF and RET) before moving on to structural studies of the RET receptor in Cancer Research-UK’s Lincoln’s Inn Fields laboratories, where he subsequently headed the Protein Platform before moving to the Francis Crick Institute as part of the Structural Biology Science Technology Platform.

Emerging Technologies

Aude Echalier-Glazer (Scientific Coordinator, Exscientia) Aude Echalier-Glazer

Aude is the Scientific Coordinator at Exscientia, a drug discovery AI company. Previously she ran her research group focusing on structurally enabling oncology targets at the University of Leicester, where she retains a Honorary academic position. She also held an academic post at the Université de Montpellier (France). After a PhD at the University Warwick, she joined the University of Oxford to work on cell cycle kinases in the Endicott lab.


Jose Marquez (Head of the Crystallization Facility, EMBL Grenoble) Jose A. Marquez

José  holds a PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Valencia, Spain, after which he specialized in structural biology at EMBL Heidelberg. Currently, he is Team Leader and Head of the High Throughput Crystallization Facility at EMBL Grenoble. This facility, co-located at the EPN campus along with the ESRF, provides access to fully automated, remote controlled crystallography pipelines for structural analysis and small molecule screening, based on the CrystalDirect™ technology and the CRIMS software that his team has contributed to develop. He is also co-founder of ALPX, a company offering crystallographic services to the pharma and biotech industry sector based on innovative technologies.

Martin Noble (Professor of Biomolecular Structure and AntiCancer Drug Design, Northern Institute for Cancer Research,Martin Noble Newcastle University)

Martin was recruited to Newcastle in 2011 from the Department of  Biochemistry, Oxford University, where he was a Professor at the Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics. He worked in Oxford from 1993 as postdoc (with Professor Dame Louise Johnson), Royal Society University Research Fellow, University Lecturer, and ultimately Head of Laboratory. Research in Martin’s group has consistently focussed on understanding the molecular recognition events that drive cellular signalling processes, and in exploiting that understanding to produce new chemical probes and leads for drug discovery. Martin is a project champion in Collaborative Computational Project 4, where he served for four years as Chair of the Executive Committee. He is also chairman of the XChem beamtime allocation committee and a member of the EBI Molecular Sciences Cluster Scientific Advisory Board. Martin’s current position is Professor of Biomolecular Science and Anticancer Drug Discovery, and Head of Structural Sciences for the CRUK Newcastle Drug Discovery Unit.

Key note speaker: Stefan Knapp (Institute of Pharmaceutial Chemistry, SGC node at the Goethe-University Frankfurt)

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