Meet the Team

Group photo, 01-Nov-2019

Chief Scientific Officer

Our Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) leads the Oxford Drug Discovery Institute and drives scientific progress. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss potential collaborations.

Dr John Davis

Dr John Davis

Following postdoctoral training at the Ludwig Institute and the Salk Institute, John joined GlaxoSmithKline where he led a variety of non-clinical pharmacology research departments for pain and neurodegenerative diseases. In 2010, John and colleagues formed the spinout company Convergence Pharmaceuticals, which John later left to become Director of Discovery for Selcia Ltd., and CSO and cofounder of Cypralis Ltd. John has 20 years of drug discovery expertise from target to phase IIa and has helped steer a dozen drug candidates into clinical development and to four positive proof of concepts.

PA: Kate Humphrey (kate.humphrey@cmd.ox.ac.uk)

 

Head of Chemistry

Paul Brennan

Prof Paul Brennan

Paul received his PhD in organic chemistry from UC Berkeley working on combinatorial chemistry and antibiotics. Following post-doctoral research at the University of Cambridge on total synthesis, Paul returned to California to take a position at Amgen. His research was focussed on kinase inhibitors for oncology. After two years at Amgen, Paul moved to Pfizer in Sandwich, UK. In 2011, Paul joined the Structural Genomics Consortium as the Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Nuffield Department of Medicine to discover chemical probes for epigenetic proteins.

 

Team Leaders

 
Emma Mead headshot, November 2019

Dr Emma Mead

Emma received her PhD in Neuroscience from University College London, investigating the role of reactive oxygen species in modulating neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. Following a post-doctoral research position at Cardiff University, where she studied the mechanism of action of naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds, Emma joined Eli Lilly as a senior scientist and team co-ordinator. Emma worked in target validation and early drug discovery for neurodegeneration, and established an in vitro neuroinflammation assay platform. Emma now leads the neuroinflammation team at the ODDI, who utilise human iPSC macrophage and primary microglial cultures for target validation, and develop cell based screening assays for progression of neuroinflammatory projects.

 

Dr Emma Murphy

 

Emma received her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Leicester where she studied the function and mechanism of heme peroxidases and the engineered introduction of novel catalytic activities. Emma continued working on biophysical characterisation of peroxidases as a postdoctoral researcher at University College London before moving to the University of Colorado. Here Emma used a combination of high-throughput in silico and medium-throughput biophysical screening to discover novel compounds that bind to and disrupt the normal functioning of mosquito odorant binding proteins. Emma joined the ODDI in 2015 as an assay development and screening scientist and since 2018 Emma has led the assay development and screening team who develop and run biochemical and biophysical high-throughput screening assays. The team aims to identify chemical matter as tool compounds to validate novel neurodegeneration targets and as potential leads for therapeutic intervention.

Dr Margarida Ruas

Margarida received her PhD from Imperial College London for her work on cancer research at the CRUK LIF Institute, and she pursued her interest in cancer research by taking a post-doctoral research position at the John Gurdon Institute at the University of Cambridge. Since 2002, her research work on fundamental aspects of endolysosomal biology has led to the development of molecular tools, cellular assays and animal models to better understand the role of lysosomes as signalling hubs. She also held a Todd Bird Junior Research Fellowship in Biochemistry at New College Oxford. Margarida joined the ODDI to set up and lead the organelle biology team, aiming to validate targets for therapeutic intervention and develop early drug discovery projects to correct organelle dysfunctions that contribute to neurodegenerative phenotypes. 

 

Lead Academic Scientist

Our Lead Academic Scientist act as ambassadors for the Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, facilitating interactions with scientists and access to resources within the University of Oxford and beyond.

Chas_Bountra

Prof Chas Bountra

Chas Bountra is Professor of Translational Medicine, Head of the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), Acting Director of BioEscalator, a Theme Lead in the Academic Health Science Network and Director of Oxford Innovations,  at the University of Oxford. He has nearly three decades of academic and industrial experience in target identification, lead discovery, lead optimisation, and clinical trial design for several neuro-psychiatric, gastro-intestinal and inflammatory conditions. He has taken more than 40 novel molecules into Phase I, and more than 20 into Phase II, he was the first to demonstrate the anti-emetic effects of NK1 antagonists, helped launch Alostetron for IBS and recently helped a biotech develop a novel analgesic. He has now established the SGC as a world leading outfit for human protein structural biology, chemical biology and ‘open’ target discovery. Prof Bountra was voted one of the top innovators in the industry in 2012, and is an invited expert on several government and charitable research funding bodies; advisor for many academic, biotech and pharma drug discovery programmes.

Emma received her PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Leicester where she studied the function and mechanism of heme peroxidases and the engineered introduction of novel catalytic activities. Emma continued working on biophysical characterisation of peroxidases as a postdoctoral researcher at University College London before moving to the University of Colorado. Here Emma used a combination of high-throughput in silico and medium-throughput biophysical screening to discover novel compounds that bind to and disrupt the normal functioning of mosquito odorant binding proteins.Emma joined the ODDI in 2015 as an assay development and screening scientist and since 2018 Emma has led the assay development and screening team who develop and run biochemical and biophysical high-throughput screening assays. The team aims to identify chemical matter as tool compounds to validate novel neurodegeneration targets and as potential leads for therapeutic intervention.