Focus on new talent


Welcome to this New Talent themed issue, the first of its kind for MedChemComm. The journal's mission is to publish work which brings new thinking to the subject; both highly significant studies in traditional areas of medicinal chemistry and research from interdisciplinary subjects (such as chemical biology and nanotechnology) which enables drug discovery. Our aim with this issue is to showcase the strength of research being carried out in these fields by tomorrow's leaders. The end result of this is an issue of MedChemComm with more than 30 high-quality research articles and reviews that reflect the broad range of interests within the community. We hope you enjoy this New Talent issue. Now let us introduce you to those that it is all about.


Steve Andrews
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Steve Andrews completed his MChem degree at Leicester University where he graduated with first class honours in 2002. Following a brief position as a research scientist at GlaxoSmithKline, Steve undertook postgraduate studies in Organic Synthesis in the research group of Professor Steve Ley CBE FRS and graduated from Cambridge University with a PhD in 2006. He then moved to ETH-Zürich to work with Professor Erick Carreira as a postdoctoral research fellow. Steve joined Heptares Therapeutics in 2008 where his research focuses on drug discovery for GPCR targets using Heptares' unique structure-based methods. During his time at Heptares, Steve has held the position of lead chemist for a number of drug discovery programs, including adenosine A2A for which a preclinical candidate has been nominated and is now in development in collaboration with Shire.

Andreas Bender

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Dr Andreas Bender is a Lecturer for Molecular Informatics and Drug Design with the Unilever Centre for Molecular Informatics at the University of Cambridge. He previously was an Assistant Professor at Leiden University, The Netherlands from 2008–2010, and a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow with Novartis in Cambridge, MA, in 2006–2007. Previously, Andreas received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, where he was working with Prof. Robert C. Glen on ‘New Approaches to Molecular Similarity’. His current research interests are in the area of chemical and biological data integration, aiming to utilize heterogenous and ‘big’ data for decision making when designing chemical probes and, eventually, novel drugs.

Paul Brennan

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Paul Brennan received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, under the mentorship of Paul Bartlett working on synthetic methodology for combinatorial chemistry and synthesizing inhibitors for new anti-bacterial targets. Following three years of post-doctoral research with Steve Ley in Cambridge University on the total synthesis of rapamycin, Paul returned to California to take a position at Amgen. After two years at Amgen, Paul accepted a position as medicinal chemistry design lead at the Pfizer labs in Sandwich, UK. In 2011 Paul joined the Structural Genomics Consortium at the University of Oxford as the principal investigator for medicinal chemistry where he currently leads the chemistry group. His research is focussed on the design and synthesis of chemical probes for epigenetic proteins, with a focus on bromodomains, lysine demethylases and tudor domains.

Luc Brunsveld

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Luc Brunsveld was born in the Netherlands, in 1975. He received his PhD in Supramolecular Chemistry from the TU Eindhoven in 2001. After a post-doctoral stay at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Physiology in Dortmund and a Medicinal Chemistry group leader position at Organon, he joined the Chemical Genomics Centre of the Max Planck Society in Dortmund in 2005 as group leader. Currently he is professor of chemical biology at the Eindhoven University of Technology. His current research interests are: protein interactions, drug discovery, supramolecular chemistry.

Seung Bum Park

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Prof. Seung Bum Park was born in Seoul, Korea, in 1970. He received his PhD in Bioorganic Chemistry from Texas A&M University in 2001. Then, he became a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University under the guidance of Prof. Stuart Schreiber. In 2004, he joined the Department of Chemistry at Seoul National University as an assistant professor and promoted to an associate professor with tenure in 2008. In 2009, he spent his sabbatical as a visiting Professor at the Scripps Research Institute with Prof. Peter Schultz. His current research interests are: chemical biology, diversity-oriented synthesis, combinatorial chemistry, bioorganic/organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, target identification, fluorescent bioprobes.

Erin E. Carlson

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Erin E. Carlson was born in Vancouver, Canada, in 1978 and went on to receive her BA at St Olaf College in 2000. She received her PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2005, and pursued postdoctoral studies at The Scripps Research Institute from 2006–2008. In 2008, she joined Indiana University as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Her current research interests are: development and application of new technologies to explore the mechanisms of bacterial growth and pathogenesis and identification of potential therapeutic agents, especially natural products.

David Chen

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David Chen was born in Taipei (Taiwan) in 1976. He received his PhD in Organic Synthesis from Cambridge University (UK) in 2001, and further postdoctoral training from the Scripps Research Institute between 2002 and 2003. Late in 2003, he joined the Merck Research Laboratories (US) and shortly after in 2005 he was appointed as Principal Investigator in A*STAR (Singapore). In 2011, he accepted a position as professor of Organic Chemistry at Seoul National University (South Korea). His current research interests are development of novel synthetic strategy, natural product synthesis and chemical biology.

David A. Colby

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David A. Colby was born in Bloomington, Illinois, USA in 1977. He received his Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Iowa in 2001 and his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of California, Irvine in 2006. He completed postdoctoral studies at the Scripps Research Institute in 2008. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor at Purdue University in the Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology with a joint appointment in the Department of Chemistry. His current research interests are: medicinal chemistry, natural products, and developing new chemical reactions to remodel complex, organic molecules.

Micha Fridman

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Micha Fridman was born in Israel, in 1971. He received his PhD in Chemistry from the Technion: Israel Institute of Technology in 2005 under the supervision of Professor Timor Baasov. In 2005 he joined the group of Professor Daniel Kahne at the Harvard University Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology as a post doctoral fellow. Since October 2008 he has been a Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemistry of Tel-Aviv University, Israel. His current research interests are: glyco-chemistry, glyco-biology, and glyco-medicine.

Assaf Friedler

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Prof. Assaf Friedler was born in Israel in 1971. He received his PhD in Peptide Chemistry and Medicinal Chemistry from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, in 2000. Between 2000 and 2004 he did his post-doc in the field of Biophysical studies of protein–protein interactions at the MRC centre for protein engineering Cambridge, UK, in the lab of Prof. Sir Alan Fersht. In 2004 he joined the institute of chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Since 2010 he is Professor of Chemistry and the head of the school of chemistry at the Hebrew University. His major research interests are using peptides to study protein–protein interactions in health and disease, and developing peptides as drugs that modulate these interactions. Prof. Friedler won a starting grant from the ERC (European Research Council) as well as the outstanding young scientist prize by the Israeli Chemical Society.

Kentaro Futatsugi

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Kentaro Futatsugi is Senior Principal Scientist in the Worldwide Medicinal Chemistry Group at Pfizer. He was born in 1978 in Japan. He received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Chicago in 2006 under the supervision of Prof. Hisashi Yamamoto before joining Pfizer in 2006. His current research focus includes the medicinal chemistry and the discovery of small molecule agents to modulate novel mechanisms for the treatment of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

Karl Gademann

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Karl Gademann (born 1972) was educated at ETH Zürich and Harvard University (PhD with Prof. Dr Dieter Seebach, postdoctoral studies with Prof. Dr Eric N. Jacobsen, Habilitation associated with Prof. Dr Erick M. Carreira). After four years at the EPFL in Lausanne, he moved in 2010 to University of Basel holding a chair of Organic Chemistry and serving as dean of research. He has had over seventy publications, holds two patents, and received several awards including the Ruzicka Medal, the Liebig Lectureship of the GDCh, the 2011 Novartis Early Career Award and the national Latsis Prize. He was awarded the European Young Investigator grant related to natural product synthesis research. His research interests include the synthesis and chemical biology of natural products.

Lori Krim Gavrin

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Lori Krim Gavrin earned her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001 in Professor Jeffrey Winkler's laboratory. She started her professional career as a medicinal chemist at Wyeth Research (now Pfizer). Over the past 11+ years, her work has spanned various stages of research from early exploratory to late discovery within multiple therapeutic areas. Lori has led teams from HTS to lead discovery, and has also advanced several late stage programs. As a member of the norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor program at Wyeth, Lori designed and synthesized a compound that entered Phase I clinical trials for the treatment of vasomotor symptoms. At present, Lori is leading chemistry design efforts within Pfizer's Orphan and Genetic Disease Research Unit and will be the chair of the 2015 Medicinal Chemistry Gordon Research Conference.

Matthew Paul Gleeson

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Matthew Paul Gleeson was born in Ireland, in 1978. He received his PhD in Theoretical Chemistry from the University of Manchester, UK in 2003. He then started his industrial career in the UK as a post-doctoral research fellow in Physical Organic Chemistry at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. He moved to GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals in 2005, where he worked as a Computational Chemist. In 2009 he altered his career path, taking up an academic position at Kasetsart University in Thailand, where he presently works as a lecturer in Physical Chemistry. His current research interests are focused on the use of cheminformatics and computational chemistry techniques to help guide lead generation and optimization projects.

Frederick Goldberg

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Frederick Goldberg was born in the UK in 1977. He received his masters from Cambridge University in 2000, his PhD at Imperial College London in 2004, and then received a Fulbright scholarship to perform postdoctoral studies with Philip Magnus at the University of Texas at Austin. He returned to the UK in 2006 to work for AstraZeneca, initially as associate team leader and now senior Medicinal Chemist. He has worked across all discovery phases in diabetes and oncology disease areas, and his research interests include kinases, structure based design, compound collection enhancement, chemical biology and metabolism.

Chris de Graaf

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Chris de Graaf performed his PhD research (cum laude) in Computational Medicinal Chemistry and Molecular Toxicology at VU University Amsterdam (2002–2006). He then joined the Structural Chemogenomics group at Université de Strasbourg and worked in collaboration with AstraZeneca on the development of new GPCR modelling methods (2006–2008). In 2009 he was appointed assistant professor in the Division Medicinal Chemistry at VU University Amsterdam, where he is currently responsible for the computer-aided drug design research line, complementing synthetic medicinal chemistry and molecular pharmacology programs. In 2009 he obtained a personal grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) to develop selective structure-based virtual screening strategies against intended and undesired protein targets. Chris de Graaf was designated as most meritorious runner-up of the 2012 EFMC Prize for a Young Medicinal Chemist.

Patrick Gunning

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Dr Patrick Gunning received his BSc (2001) and PhD (2005) from the University of Glasgow. He pursued postdoctoral studies with Professor Andrew D. Hamilton (Yale University) before joining the University of Toronto, Department of Chemistry as an Assistant Professor (Canada; 2007). Patrick was promoted to Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Toronto (2012). Patrick’s medicinal chemistry research program investigates the development of inhibitors targeting: Stat3 and Stat5; PTP1B; and UBA1, 3 and 5, as well as developing SH2 domain mimetics and protein-membrane anchorage drug modalities. Patrick was the recipient of the 2010 Boehringer Ingelheim Young Investigator Award, a 2010 Ontario Early Researcher Award, and the 2012 RSC MedChemComm Emerging Investigator Lectureship Award, among others.

Howard Hang

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Howard Hang was born in Vietnam, in 1976. He received his BSc in Chemistry from University of California, Santa Cruz, USA working with Prof. Joseph Konopelski in 1998, PhD in Chemistry from University of California, Berkeley, USA with Prof. Carolyn Bertozzi in 2003 and then performed postdoctoral studies at the Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research with Prof. Hidde Ploegh. In 2007 he joined The Rockefeller University as an Assistant Professor and Head of Lab. The Hang Laboratory is interested in chemical biology and microbial pathogenesis.

Christian Heinis

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Christian Heinis was born in Aarberg, Switzerland in 1975. He received his PhD from the ETH in Zurich in 2003. After two post-docs, one at the EPFL in Lausanne and a second one at the LMB in Cambridge, he became in 2008 assistant professor at the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering at the EPFL. Since 2009 he is holding a professorship of the Swiss National Science Foundation. His main research goal is the development of therapeutics based on novel macrocyclic peptide structures. Christian is a scientific founder of the start-up company Bicycle Therapeutics.

Adrian Keatinge-Clay

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Adrian Keatinge-Clay was born in Canada in 1977. He earned BS degrees in Chemistry and Biology from Stanford University in 1999. He then received his PhD in Biophysics from the lab of Robert Stroud at the University of California, San Francisco in 2004. He stayed in the same lab during his postdoctoral studies. He has worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin since 2008. His current research focus is advancing our structural and mechanistic understanding of type I polyketide synthase enzymes so that they may be employed in the synthesis of pharmaceutically relevant molecules.

Neil Kelleher

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Dr Neil Kelleher was born in Cheverly, Maryland, USA, in 1970. He received his PhD in Chemistry from Cornell University (USA) in 1997 under Dr Fred McLafferty and Dr Tadhg Begley, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship under Dr Christopher Walsh from Harvard Medical Shool (USA) in 1999. In 1999 he joined the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry. Since 2010 he has been a Professor of Molecular Biosciences, Chemistry and the Feinberg School of Medicine as well as the Director of the Proteomics Center of Excellence at Northwestern University. His current research interests are: top down proteomics, natural products biosynthesis/discovery and chromatin oncobiology.

Sylvain Ladame

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Dr Ladame was born in Ruffec, South West of France, in 1974. He received his PhD in Chemistry of Biomolecules from the University of Toulouse in 2001. He then travelled to Cambridge (UK) to work for five years as a post-doctoral researcher in the group of Prof. Shankar Balasubramanian. In 2006, he joined the CNRS as an Assistant Professor and started his independent academic career as a junior group leader within the ‘Institut de Science et d'Ingénierie Supramoléculaires’ (Strasbourg, France). Four years later, in 2010, he became a lecturer in the department of Bioengineering of Imperial College London (UK) where he is currently directing a research laboratory interested in the engineering of nucleic acid binding ligands and probes.

Andrew Leach

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Andrew Leach was born in Chester, UK. He obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge, UK, in the group of Professor S. V. Ley. Subsequently, he received a Fulbright scholarship to study in the group of Professor K. N. Houk at UCLA, investigating pericyclic reactions and enzymatic catalysis. On returning to the UK, he joined AstraZeneca as a Computational Chemist and worked in the oncology, diabetes and obesity areas. He is currently a Lecturer in pharmacy at Liverpool John Moores University and a Director of MedChemica Limited. His interests include applied quantum mechanics and informatics.

Antonio Macchiarulo

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Antonio Macchiarulo was born in Italy, in 1972. He received his PhD in Chemistry and Technology of Drugs from the University of Perugia (Italy) in 2003. In 2004 he joined the Department of Chemistry and Technology of Drugs at the University of Perugia as assistant professor of Medicinal Chemistry. Currently he is associate professor of Medicinal Chemistry Department of Chemistry and Technology of Drugs at the University of Perugia. His current research interests include: design of bile acids biomimetics; development of computational approaches to study polypharmacology; design of anticancer compounds targeting nuclear receptors as well as protein–protein interaction.

Vincent Mascitti

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Vincent Mascitti was born in Reims, France, and received his diploma in Chemical Engineering from the ECPM (Strasbourg, France) in 1999. He completed his PhD in 2003 with Professor Hanessian (University of Montreal, Canada), and did his postdoctoral studies in the laboratories of Professor E. J. Corey (Harvard University, USA). Vincent joined Pfizer in 2006, where as a Medicinal Chemist in the CVMED chemistry department, he contributed to various diabetes and obesity related projects. Particularly, Vincent was the driving force behind the design and synthesis of SGLT2 inhibitor Ertugliflozin (PF-04971729), a clinical candidate currently in phase 2 and being evaluated for type 2 diabetes treatment. He is currently a Senior Director at Pfizer and Synthesis Head in the CVMED medicinal chemistry department.

Michael M. Meijler

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Michael M. Meijler was born in The Netherlands, in 1970. He received his PhD in Chemistry from The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel in 2003, after which he was a postdoctoral fellow in the group of Kim Janda at The Scripps Research Institute. In 2006 he joined the Department of Chemistry at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev as Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2011. His current research interests are: chemical communication between species, quorum sensing, chemical biology.

Jordi Mestres

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Jordi Mestres was born in Girona, Catalonia (Spain). He received his PhD in Computational Chemistry from the University of Girona. After a post-doctoral stay at Pharmacia and Upjohn (Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA), in 1997 he joined N.V. Organon (Oss, The Netherlands) and in 2000 he was appointed Head of Computational Medicinal Chemistry at Organon Laboratories (Newhouse, Scotland, UK). In 2003, he took on his current positions as Head of Chemogenomics at the IMIM Hospital del Mar Research Institute and Associate Professor at the University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona (Catalonia, Spain). He is also the founder of Chemotargets. His research interests focus on the use and development of computational approaches to integrate chemical, biological, and phenotypic spaces and their application to systems chemical biology and drug discovery.

Caren Freel Meyers

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Caren Freel Meyers completed her PhD in Chemistry from the University of Rochester under the direction of Professor Richard Borch. She pursued a postdoctoral position under the guidance of Professors Richard Borch and Marc Loudon at Purdue University, where she developed novel phosphorylation methods using phosphoramidate-based chemistry, while teaching Organic Chemistry. Caren carried out a second postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School with Professor Christopher Walsh where she studied aminocoumarin antibiotic biosynthesis. She is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her laboratory pursues studies to understand enzyme mechanism and regulation in the non-mammalian isoprenoid biosynthetic pathway, toward the development of new anti-infective agents.

Kazuo Nagasawa

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Kazuo Nagasawa was born in Japan. He received his PhD from Waseda University in 1993. In 1993, he joined RIKEN (The institute of Physical and Chemical Research) as a researcher. From 1997 to 1999, he worked in Kishi group at Harvard University. In 2009, he was appointed to his current position of Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology as a professor. His current research interests are natural products synthesis, G4 DNA related medicinal chemistry, and organocatalysis chemistry.

Alleyn Plowright

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Alleyn Plowright was born in the UK, in 1974. He received his PhD in Organic Synthesis with Professor Gerald Pattenden at University of Nottingham, UK in 1999, and continued with post-doctoral studies with Professor Andrew Myers at Harvard University in 2000. In 2002 he joined AstraZeneca at Alderley Park, UK as a Medicinal Chemist. In 2006 he became Associate Director, Medicinal Chemistry at AstraZeneca in Mölndal, Sweden and in 2012 became Senior Principal Scientist, Medicinal Chemistry. His current research interests are: drug design and chemical approaches within cardiovascular research and diabetes and obesity research.

James Scott

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James Scott was born in the UK, in 1972. He received his PhD in Organometallic Chemistry from Strathclyde University, Scotland in 1997 with Prof. William Kerr and went on to do postdoctoral studies in total synthesis with Prof. Steven Ley in Cambridge, UK. From 2001–2002 he worked as a Chemistry Teacher in Kenya with Voluntary Services Overseas. In 2003 he joined AstraZeneca as a medicinal chemist and became a Team Leader in 2006 working on lead generation and optimisation programs. In 2012 he was awarded the Capps Green Zomaya Award for medicinal chemistry. His research interests are in oncology and metabolic disease targets.

Sarah Skerratt

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Sarah earned her PhD from the University of Nottingham, UK under the supervision of Professor Jim Anderson and carried out postdoctoral research with Professor Paul Wender at Stanford University, CA before joining Pfizer as a Medicinal Chemist in 2004. Over the past 8+ years she has worked in both early and late stage drug discovery research with expertise in HTS and lead development through to the delivery of clinical candidates. Sarah is currently an Associate Research Fellow at Pfizer Neusentis, UK and is a member of the Pfizer Medicinal Chemistry Design Network Group.

Steven G. Van Lanen

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Steven G. Van Lanen was born in the USA, in 1975. He received his PhD in Chemistry from Portland State University, USA in 2003. In 2004 he joined the group of Dr Ben Shen, then at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as a National Institute of Health postdoctoral research fellow. Currently he is an Assistant Professor within the College of Pharmacy at the University of Kentucky, USA. His current research interests include antibiotic drug discovery, mechanisms of antibiotic resistance, and natural product biosynthesis.

Patrick Verhoest

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Patrick Verhoest was born in the US in 1973 and received his PhD in 2001 in the laboratories of Amos Smith at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2001 he joined Pharmacia and 2003 moved to Pfizer in Groton Ct. Currently he is a Senior Director in Pfizer Neuroscience Medicinal Chemistry in Cambridge Ma. Patrick has published heavily within the area of PDE inhibitors with the disclosure of the first PDE10 and PDE9 compounds that have advanced into phase 2 clinical testing. Additional areas of research have centred on physical chemical property based design for CNS compounds.

Michael Waring

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Michael Waring was born in the UK, in 1974. He received his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Manchester, UK in 1999, and carried out post-doctoral research at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2001 he joined AstraZeneca as a Medicinal Chemistry Team Leader. Currently he is a Principal Scientist in Medicinal Chemistry at AstraZeneca, Alderley Park, UK. His current research interests are: drug discovery, physical property control, optimisation of binding kinetics, new methods of hit generation and the application of organic chemistry techniques to biological problems.

Douglas B. Weibel

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Douglas B. Weibel received a BS degree in Chemistry from the University of Utah in 1996 and a PhD in Chemistry from Cornell University (with Jerrold Meinwald) in 2002. From 1996–1997 he was Fulbright Fellow in Japan (with Yoshinori Yamamoto). He was a Postdoctoral Fellow in Chemistry at Harvard University (with George M. Whitesides) from 2002–2006. He joined the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as an Assistant Professor in 2006 and also became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2008.


This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2013