About Heptares | Advisors

David Brown, Chair of Drug Discovery SAB

David has over 30 years' experience in the pharmaceutical industry both in research and in senior executive roles. He served with four of the top ten pharmaceutical companies: Zeneca, Pfizer, Glaxo, and most recently with F. Hoffman La-Roche as Global Head of Drug Discovery, Roche Pharma. In this role he had responsibility for the output of clinical candidate drugs from approximately 200 scientists across Roche's five research sites. David has extensive experience of pharmaceutical R&D in all phases from early discovery through clinical trials, and he has experience of leading research in all major disease areas. While at Pfizer he was named co-inventor of the patent for Viagra, and he led the team that developed Viagra through to proof of concept (clinical efficacy) in man. At Roche, David also served on the committee responsible for clinical drug development and he was core member of the Business Development Committee responsible for in-licensing products and for technology agreements and acquisitions. He has also been President and CEO of biotechnology company Cellzome AG. He is now Chairman of Babraham Biotechnology, Chairman of Amura Ltd, and he serves also as a consultant to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. David received his PhD in chemistry from the University of Bristol. He is an Editor-in-Chief of Current Opinion in Drug Discovery and Development, and is author of more than 50 primary and review publications and patents.

Elliot Ehrich

Elliot is Senior Vice President of Research & Development and Chief Medical Officer at Alkermes plc, with responsibility for the discovery, delivery science, research and development, project management and medical affairs functions. Prior to joining Alkermes in 2000, Elliot spent seven years at Merck & Co. Inc., overseeing the successful clinical development and registration of novel pharmaceuticals. Elliot is a Fellow of the American College of Rheumatology and has had numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals. He also serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Aileron Therapeutics, a privately held biopharmaceutical company. Elliot was a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Princeton University where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biochemistry. He worked as a research associate at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany and later earned his medical degree from Columbia University, College of Physicians and Surgeons. At Stanford University, Elliot completed a residency in internal medicine and a clinical fellowship in the Department of Immunology and Rheumatology. He was subsequently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Stanford University School of Medicine, in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

Richard Henderson, Founder

Originally a physicist from Edinburgh, Richard started in protein crystallography in 1966 when he was a PhD student working with David Blow at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) on the structure of chymotrypsin, which in 1967 was one of the first ever protein structures determined. As a Helen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellow at Yale, he characterised biochemically the voltage-dependent sodium channels from nerve membranes. in 1975 and back at LMB, he determined the first ever 3D structure of a membrane protein, bacteriorhodopsin. He then developed the methods for electron crystallography of 2D crystals, and used them to obtain the atomic structure of bacteriorhodopsin in 1990. He served as Joint-Head of the Structural Studies Division at LMB (1986-2000) and Director (1996-2006), while developing an interest in G-protein-coupled receptors and single particle electron microscopy. He is a fellow of the Royal Society (1983), a foreign associate of the US National Academy of Sciences (1996), and has been awarded several prizes for his work (William Bate Hardy, Ernst Ruska, Rosensteil, Louis Jeantet and Gregori Aminoff).

Richard was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 together with Jacques Dubochet (University of Lausanne, Switzerland) and Joachim Frank (Columbia University, New York, USA) "for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution."

Duncan Higgons

Duncan is the Chief Operating Officer of Agios Pharmaceuticals, Inc., which he joined in 2009. Prior to this, he worked at Archemix Corporation from 2006 to 2009 where he most recently served as President, Chief Operating Officer and interim Chief Executive Officer. Prior to Archemix, Duncan served as the Chief Commercial Officer at TransForm Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a privately-held biotechnology company which was acquired by Johnson & Johnson Company. Previously he held senior business and commercial positions at Alkermes, Eli Lilly and Baxter. He holds a BSc in Mathematics from King's College University of London and an MSc in Economics from London Business School.

Bob Holland

Bob qualified in medicine and obtained a DPhil in neurobiology at Oxford University. After hospital medical practice he joined the pharmaceuticals industry in 1985, working for The Wellcome Foundation, Solvay, The Upjohn Company and AstraZeneca. He played leading roles in the development of significant medicines in the CNS and oncology therapeutic areas, maintaining a special interest in clinical pharmacology, biomarkers and patient segmentation. From 1999 to 2004, Bob was worldwide head of clinical pharmacology and experimental medicine at AstraZeneca. He then became worldwide head of the CNS therapeutic area responsible for Discovery and Development activities for psychiatry, neurology, analgesia and anaesthesia. In 2010, Bob created an entirely new function within AstraZeneca (personalised healthcare and biomarkers) dedicated to the invention of patient segmentation tools to enable the identification of patients most likely to respond to AstraZeneca drugs. After retiring from AstraZeneca in 2012, Bob became Chief Medical Officer of Oxford Gene Technology. He is a Non-Executive Director of Newron Pharmaceuticals SA, a publicly listed company that has recently brought to the market a novel drug for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. He also serves as a consultant to The Wellcome Trust and to several large and small pharmaceuticals companies.

Patrick P. A. Humphrey OBE

Patrick graduated from the School of Pharmacy, University of London, in 1968, with a strong interest in drug receptor theory. After obtaining a PhD in pharmacology at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, he joined Allen and Hanburys, at Ware, U.K., to initiate a project on migraine. His work on cerebrovascular pharmacology led directly to the development of sumatriptan, the prototype of a new drug class for the treatment of migraine. During this time, he became the Director of the Glaxo Division of Pharmacology that was not only instrumental in the discovery of sumatriptan, but also naratriptan, alosetron, ondansetron, vapiprost and salmeterol. Patrick has received a number of important academic honours, including an honorary professorship from the University of Cambridge, as well as the Royal Society's Mullard medal. In 1999, he was awarded the OBE for "services to migraine research". He maintains a passion for research aimed at drug discovery and was latterly the Head of Research at Theravance in South San Francisco from 2001 to January 2008. He has about 300 published scientific papers and book chapters to his name and was ranked 4th in the list of total literature citations in Pharmacology and Toxicology from 1994-2004.

Paul Leeson

Paul is a medicinal chemist with more than 35 years’ experience in major pharmaceutical companies.  He obtained BSc and PhD degrees in chemistry from the Universities of Liverpool and Cambridge, followed by postdoctoral work at Sussex University.  His industrial career began at Smith Kline and French Research Laboratories, and has taken him to Merck Sharp and Dohme, then to Wyeth (USA), and from 1997-2011, AstraZeneca, where he was head of medicinal chemistry at the Charnwood site and leader of AstraZeneca’s Global Chemistry Forum.  Since 2011 he has been a consultant for GlaxoSmithKline.  Paul’s drug discovery contributions have been in the cardiovascular, neuroscience, respiratory and inflammation therapy areas and he has a special interest in compound quality in relation to pipeline attrition.  In 2014 he received the Nauta Award for Pharmacochemistry from the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC).

Beverly Lybrand

Bev is an experienced healthcare executive with worldwide commercial business expertise in both pharmaceuticals and vaccines. She has spent the majority of career at Merck & Co. Inc., where she was instrumental in the successful commercialisation of more than 30 global brands, including major Merck products such as Singulair® in respiratory diseases; Gardasil®, a vaccine against cervical cancer & HPV diseases; and Mevacor®, Zocor® and Cozaar®/Hyzaar® in cardiovascular indications. Most recently, Bev served as SVP & General Manager at Merck's Neurosciences and Ophthalmology groups, during which time she was responsible for leading the commercialisation of Saphris®/Sycrest®, Bridion® and Maxalt® and for defining the commercial development strategies for multiple key programmes targeting migraine (telcagepant), schizophrenia, sleep disorders, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease. Prior to this role, she held the positions of SVP and General Manager for the Cardiovascular and Adult/Adolescent Vaccine franchises and VP & GM for the HPV and New Products franchises. Before joining Merck, Bev worked as a healthcare consultant in New York; as a Special Assistant to the Executive Director of US Department of Health and Human Services; and as a Nurse Manager at the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital critical care unit in Philadelphia, PA. Bev holds a BS in Nursing from Trenton State College and earned her MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Andreas Plückthun

Andreas has been Full Professor at the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Zurich since 1993. His pioneering scientific work on protein engineering has made him one of the most highly cited scientists in this field and his work has been honored by a number of international awards. He studied chemistry at the University of Heidelberg (Germany) and received his graduate education at the University of California San Diego, where he obtained a PhD in 1982 in the group of Prof. Edward Dennis. He subsequently worked as a postdoctoral fellow in the Chemistry Department of Harvard University (1982-1985), before becoming group leader at the Genzentrum and Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie in Martinsried, Germany (1985-1993). His work on synthetic antibodies and directed evolution led to the co-founding of MorphoSys (1992), a leading antibody company in Munich. His work on alternative scaffolds led to the co-founding of Molecular Partners (2004), a leading Swiss biotech company. His work on engineering and evolving G-protein coupled receptors led to the co-founding of G7 Therapeutics in Zurich (2014), which has now become Heptares Zurich.

Roberto Solari

Roberto is a Visiting Professor within the Infection in Airway Disease research group, Respiratory Infections section within the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, where he is focused on the discovery of novel targets to allow the development of anti-viral drugs against human Rhinovirus. Previously, he worked at Glaxo (now GlaxoSmithKline), which he joined in 1986, and worked on inflammation and allergy drug discovery. He has since held a number of research posts in industry working from target discovery through to human clinical trials. Most recently, he was Vice President in the Respiratory Therapy Area at GSK leading a group working on the discovery of novel asthma drugs. Roberto has also been involved with the creation of UK companies such as Astex Pharmaceuticals, Lorantis, Chroma Therapeutics and Heptares Therapeutics. Roberto has a BSc and PhD from Nottingham University, and has conducted post-doctoral research at the University of Lausanne and Liverpool University.

Chris Tate, Founder

Chris obtained his PhD from the University of Bristol (1989) and then moved to the University of Cambridge (Dept of Biochemistry) to work on a unique 10-helix sugar transporter, RhaT. After obtaining a research fellowship at Girton College (Cambridge) he moved to the LMB to work in Richard Henderson's group on the serotonin transporter where he showed the role of N-glycosylation and the chaperone calnexin was important for protein folding. Chris then worked on the E. coli multidrug transporter EmrE and obtained both 2D and 3D crystals as well as a 3D crystal structure using cryo-EM.

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