About Us

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Dr. Alan D. Roth

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Alan D. Roth

Alan’s career in life sciences sciences comprises basic research, investment management/capital markets, strategic consultancy and emerging company operations. Starting his career as a chemist at Merck & Co., Inc. in New Lead Discovery, after his academic work he joined McKinsey serving leading companies in a variety of industries. He subsequently became Director at Commerzbank Asset Management ($140bn AUM) in London and Frankfurt in charge of global equity bio-investments as well as overall industrial investment research. He co-founded, took public and was first CEO and CFO of Chiral Quest, Inc., a life sciences company in the area of chiral pharmaceuticals. Alan earned his BA (Hons) from Cornell University, PhD from Columbia University, and Postdoctoral Fellowship in from the University of Oxford in organic chemistry. He also serves as Director in Fitzroy Partners in London developing new health sciences ventures internationally. At the University of Oxford, he is Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence and Visiting Lecturer in the area of science entrepreneurship.

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Prof. Paul Finn

Chief Scientific Officer

Prof. Paul Finn

Paul has been leading scientific progress at Oxford Drug Design after an extensive career at Pfizer, Smithkline Beecham (GSK) and TopoTarget. His expertise extends over drug discovery and early pharmaceutical development. At TopoTarget, where he was Director of R&D, Paul led the preclinical development Beleodaq®, of which he is also an inventor, used to treat patients with peripheral T-cell lymphoma. At Oxford Drug Design he has led our computational drug discovery platform as well as our drug discovery efforts and has been instrumental in the raising of c. £10M of non-dilutive finance internationally. Paul studied biochemistry at the University of Oxford and obtained his PhD at the University of Manchester. He is a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham School of Computer Science, working at the interface of drug discovery and machine learning.

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Dr. Mike Dawson

Head of Biology

Dr. Mike Dawson

Mike has led natural product chemistry and biotransformation programmes contributing to the development of important drugs such as Epivir, Zanamavir and Abacavir. He spent the first 20 years of his career with GSK and legacy companies and subsequently was involved in the founding and leadership of two biotech companies in the antibacterial space. As cofounder and CSO of Novacta Biosystems he led the development of the anti-C. difficile drug NVB302 from concept to clinic.

Subsequently as CEO of Cantab Anti-infectives he led the discovery of the next generation polymyxin, currently undergoing clinical development as SPR206. He joined Oxford Drug Design in 2019. Mike has a first degree from the University of Cambridge and a PhD from the University of Leicester. He is an author of over 65 peer-reviewed papers and an inventor of over 20 patent families.

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Prof. Richard Cooper

Head of ML & Methods Development

Prof. Richard Cooper

Richard is a computational chemist with an extensive career in both industry and academia successfully applying modelling technologies towards molecular optimisation.

Starting his career as chemistry software specialist at Oxford Diffraction, he then led efforts in automation of structural model building and validation as R&D Manager at oXray. His leadership role continued as Software Architect at Inhibox - which engendered Oxford Drug Design- applying molecular fragment linking tools to drug discovery projects. Since 2010 he has been Head of Chemical Crystallography in the Department of Chemistry at Oxford University where his research has focused on method development for open source crystal structure modelling tools and combining chemical descriptors, machine learning models and experimental data to enable interpretation and tuning of properties in molecular materials.

He received his BA, MA and DPhil in chemistry from Oxford where he also conducted postdoctoral work and is currently appointed as Associate Professor. He serves as President of the British Crystallographic Association and Co-editor of the structural chemistry journal, Acta Cryst. Section C.

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Dr. Grace Edmund

Sr. Computational Chemist

Dr. Grace Edmund

Grace leads the computational chemistry effort for our tRNA synthetase project, the most advanced of our anti-bacterial discovery projects. She also manages the logistics and coordinates assays in our critical path between our scientists and external collaborators. Prior to joining Oxford Drug Design in 2015, Grace completed post-doctoral research in the field of polymer modelling for DSTL.

Grace earned her MChem in Chemistry from Durham University and Ph. D in computational chemistry from the University of Surrey. Her masters research was in the field of ion channels in pain therapeutics and her doctoral work focused on modelling species variation in CYP450-mediated metabolism.

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Dr. Aras Asaad

Mathematician

Dr. Aras Asaad

Aras is developing Oxford Drug Design’s topological data analysis pipeline to build topological fingerprints from molecules. The work mainly involves using algebraic topology methods to design novel anti-infectives and other therapeutic agents. He is also combining topological methods with machine learning approaches to enrich our pipeline of molecular featurisation methods. Aras obtained his MSc and D. Phil in mathematics both from The University of Buckingham in the area of applied topology. His doctoral thesis developed novel topology-based algorithms for various image analysis tasks such as fake face detection and biomedical image analysis. He was appointed Honorary Research Fellow by the School of Computing at The University of Buckingham.

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Marco Albanese

Early Stage Researcher

Marco Albanese

Marco has been leading Oxford Drug Design’s bacterial histidine kinases inhibitors discovery program with a focus on tackling veterinary pathogens. He employs structure- and ligand-based computational methods to optimise ligand interactions, anti-bacterial activity and pharmacokinetic properties. Marco earned his Master’s degree in pharmaceutical chemistry and technology from the University of Salerno. In collaboration with the University of Eastern Finland, he completed his thesis applying computational methods on anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer projects. Marco joined Oxford Drug Design in 2018 as part of a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Horizon 2020 Innovation Programme. He is currently completing his PhD at the University of Buckingham.

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Prof. W. Graham Richards CBE FRS

Chairman

Prof. W. Graham Richards CBE FRS

Graham is one of the pioneers of computational chemistry and molecular design, particularly for pharmaceutical applications. Over 40 years at the University of Oxford Chemistry Department, he introduced many of the techniques now routinely used in computer-aided drug design both in industry and academia. Graham’s influential paper Third age of quantum chemistry marked the development of computational techniques for theoretical analysis whose precision equaled or surpassed experimental results.

He was the scientific co-founder of Oxford Molecular, an Oxford spinout company that produced software for modelling of small molecules and proteins which went public in the London Stock Exchange and it is today part of Biovia. Graham was responsible for the creation of IP Group Plc whose first spin-out from the Oxford Chemistry Department was Oxford Nanopore Tech. Graham received his B.A. and D.Phil. from the University of Oxford. He was awarded a CBE and has been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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Sunil Shah

NED

Sunil Shah

Sunil is a serial entrepreneur having begun a career in the Life Sciences team at PA Consulting group followed by co-founding two companies in the information technology and life sciences sector. The second of these companies, Oxygen Healthcare Ltd was acquired by Piramal Enterprises Ltd (BSE: PEL). Sunil co-founded O2h Ventures which involves seeding drug discovery, academic in-licensing and biotechnology incubation. Sunil has a degree in Biochemistry and an MBA from Cambridge University

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Robert G. Boyle

NED

Robert G. Boyle

Robert is a founder and the CEO of Sentinel Oncology Ltd, a company dedicated towards the discovery of novel small molecules for the treatment of cancer. He is a medicinal chemist by background with over twenty-five years’ industrial experience. He has held positions at Pfizer (1993-1997); Cambridge Discovery Chemistry (1997-2000); Millennium Pharmaceuticals (200-2003); Astex Therapeutics (2003-2005) & Sentinel Oncology (2005-present).

As CEO & founder of Sentinel Oncology, he has successfully raised multiple rounds of funding, built a pipeline of small molecule drug assets and secured multiple licensing deals with Biotech and Pharma. Sentinel has been the recipient of numerous awards & grants for innovation and Robert is a named inventor on over 50 patents & publications describing the discovery and use of small molecules for the treatment of unmet medical needs

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David Ford

NED

David Ford

David is an Oxford-based life sciences investor with over 25 years of global investment and capital markets experience. He started his career with Prudential Capital Group in London and San Francisco as equity research analyst covering the biotech, pharmaceuticals and chemical sectors before moving to fixed income and private equity. He was latterly a Managing Director and Head of Research for Intermediate Capital Group (ICG), a London-listed asset manager. A member of the Cambridge Angels, since 2017 he has focused full-time on his early stage investment portfolio. He is currently chairman of SomaServe Ltd and has other Non-Executive Directorships with Oppilotech and BoobyBiome. He is also an Independent Non-Executive Director of Alcentra Ltd, a $40bn London-based asset manager owned by Bank of New York. He holds a Masters in Biochemistry (M.Biochem) from the University of Oxford.

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Dr Michael Murphy

Dr Michael Murphy

Mike is the Portfolio Manager of Meltwind Advisory LLP, a company founded by Jonathan Milner to help manage investments in early stage healthcare and biotech companies. Jonathan was the Founder of Abcam plc, is an experienced entrepreneur and investor and is passionate about supporting UK life science and high-tech start-ups. He has provided considerable investment and support to over 60 companies and has assisted three technology companies to IPO on the London AIM Stock exchange. Mike has worked for Cambridge startup companies in engineering, computer science and biotechnology, engaged in technical, operational and business development roles. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from Cambridge University

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Prof. Xiang-Lei Yang

Prof. Xiang-Lei Yang

Xiang-Lei Yang, PhD, is the Ernest W. Hahn Endowed Chair and a professor in the Department of Molecular Medicine at Scripps Research. Her lab pioneers the field of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases regarding their broad regulatory functions in higher organisms and in the context of human diseases, including neuromuscular diseases and cancers.
The Yang lab uncovered diverse non-enzymatic functions of aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases that regulate the vasculature, stress responses, and proteostasis, and demonstrated their pathophysiological significance. Her lab also deployed state-of-the art structural biology to elucidate the molecular basis of these functions and of their disease-causing dysregulations. Furthermore, Prof. Yang’s work showed that the tRNA synthetase function is sensitive to the environment and can connect the environmental change to gene expression regulation, thus playing a key role in maintaining cellular homeostasis.
Beyond these discoveries, her lab has also expanded our understanding of tRNAs themselves, which are co-deployed in some of these mechanisms.
Dr. Yang is the author or co-author of more than 98 scientific publications and 8 issued or published patents. She has given numerous invited lectures at international conferences, universities, and pharmaceutical companies. She founded the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on "Translation Machinery in Health and Disease”, the first disease-focused conference for the broad field of mRNA translation. She is a scientific co-founder aTyr Pharma, which is aimed at developing tRNA synthetase-related molecules as therapeutic biologics.
Dr. Yang received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Capital Institute of Medical Science (Beijing), and her Ph.D. in Biophysics and Computational Biology from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Dr. James B. Kahn

Dr. James B. Kahn

Dr. Kahn is a US Board-certified Infectious Diseases specialist with extensive expertise in policy modelling in health care, cost-effectiveness analysis, and evidence-based medicine. After practicing as an independent physician, Dr. Kahn joined Johnson and Johnson where he was responsible for the development of levofloxacin and ofloxacin at their Ortho-McNeil affiliate over nearly 20 years. He has authored/co-authored almost 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers and presentations in the area.

He remains an active member of national and international Infectious Diseases societies, including ASM,IDSA, ISID, and ESCMID. Dr. Kahn served two years as an EIS Officer at the US Center for Disease Control (CDC). He earned a B.A. from Harvard University and M.D. from Harvard Medical School. He the founder and principal of JBK Strategic Consultations, LLC, specialising in infectious disease expertise to the pharmaceutical industry.

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Dr. Tom Parr

Dr. Tom Parr

Tom Parr, PhD, is the Chief Scientific Officer of Spero Therapeutics. He has more than 30 years drug discovery experience across both large pharmaceutical and small biotechnology companies, including Eli Lilly and Nimbus Therapeutics. Tom has worked on several successful molecules including nacubactam a novel diazabicyclooctane beta-lactamase inhibitor, the echinocandin antifungal anidulafungin and a range of other marketed antibiotics including beta-lactams (cefaclor, loracarbef, cefuroxime axetil, cephalexin, moxalactam, ceftazidime, cefazolin); glycopeptides (vancomycin and oritavancin); lipodepsipeptides (daptomycin); aminoglycosides (tobramycin); quinolones (cinoxacin); macrolides (dirythromycin); also development stage antimicrobial peptides such as the iseganins.

Tom earned his PhD from the University of Calgary and conducted a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of British Columbia. He was Assistant Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Biochemistry at the University of Ottawa before beginning his drug discovery and development career.

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