Current expertise and future directions in drug discovery

An Oxford-Industry conversation

Friday 31st July 2015
Andrew Wiles Building
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This event showcased top chemical biology research from labs at Oxford. Particular emphasis was placed on linking basic chemical biology research to work in the clinic.

11 top speakers from departments across Oxford gave very different talks touching on disease-agnostic technologies and drug discovery platforms, target and pathway expertise, and validating hypotheses in the clinic. Two industry experts also gave their viewpoints and highlights of successful academia-industry collaboration.

Our industry guests were unanimously impressed with the diversity and quality of research taking place at Oxford, as well as our collaborative approach.

“I liked the breadth and high quality of the presentations.”

VP Business Development, contract research organisation

“Great academic work being done at Oxford University.”

CEO, biotech company

“It‘s great to see Oxford leading the way to interact with industry.”

Senior Director, multinational pharma organisation

“The sense of collaboration (internally and externally) at Oxford was encouraging to see.”

Senior Manager: Open Innovation, multinational pharma organisation

The symposium brought together over 180 delegates including Oxford researchers, industry colleagues and technology transfer professionals. In doing so, it provided the ideal forum for discussion and will lead to lasting collaborative relationships.


Industry delegates reported 49 new research connections with academics at Oxford.

“I had an invaluable introduction and 1:1 with a researcher from a major pharma company in which we discussed potential collaboration.”

Principal investigator, DPAG, University of Oxford


Oxford delegates reported 24 new research connections with colleagues in Industry.

“The one-to-one meetings with academics not previously known to me were a great way to initiate discussion.”

VP, biotech company

Following the presentations, delegates were invited to participate in an interactive discussion entitled “How can Oxford best help industry translate new ideas into pioneer medicines?”

Professor Chris Schofield chaired a panel of four experts from Oxford and Industry with strong track records of academia-industry collaboration.

The discussion was vibrant, with the audience posing a range of interesting questions to the panel. Key themes that emerged throughout were the importance of communication, training and industry-guided research facilitation in academia.

“Some of the comments and questions during the roundtable discussion were really interesting. I've wanted to have this debate in Oxford for years!!”

VP Business Development, contract research organisation

“The round table discussions with industry representatives explaining how they interact with academia were illuminating.”

Senior Post-Doc, University of Oxford

This event was generously supported by:

Medical Research Council logo

MRC Proximity to Discovery Industry Engagement Fund

The Medical Research Council (MRC) improves human health through world class medical research. The MRC Proximity to Discovery: Industry Engagement Fund provides funding for innovative ways to enable to initial development of academic-industry collaborations.

HEFCE logo

Higher Education Funding Council For England

The Higher Education Funding Council For England (HEFCE) provides funding for knowledge exchange through Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF). HEIF supports and develops a broad range of knowledge-based interactions between universities and colleges and the wider world. These collaborations benefit the UK economically and socially.


Download Programme PDF


Introduction by Professor Andrew Hamilton, FRS 
Vice-Chancellor, University of Oxford

Chas Bountra
Professor of Translational Medicine, SGC

Research interests: Using X ray structures of novel human proteins to generate small molecule inhibitors, screening in human cells to identify novel targets for drug discovery, and then developing clinical candidates for evaluation in patients.

Tom Brown
Professor of Nucleic Acid Chemistry, Department of Chemistry

Research interests: Nucleic acid chemistry, DNA sequence recognition and application of nucleic acids to nanotechnology, diagnostics and biology.

Ian Churcher
Head, Protein Degradation Discovery Performance Unit, GlaxoSmithKline

Daniel Ebner
Operational Cell Screening Officer, Target Discovery Institute

Research interests: Phenotypic screening and the UK National Phenotypic Screening Centre.

Christian Eggeling
Professor of Molecular Immunology, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine

Research interests: The Eggeling laboratory focuses on the application and development of advanced ultra-sensitive, live-cell fluorescence microscopy techniques, such as optical super-resolution microscopy or nanoscopy featuring a spatial resolution down to the molecular level, superior to conventional optical microscopes. These super-resolution microscopes are optimized and used to unravel nanoscopic changes at the molecular level in living cells following cellular immune responses, such as T-cell activation.

Christophe Genicot
Senior Director, Global Chemistry, UCB

David R. Greaves
Professor of Inflammation Biology, Sir William Dunn School of Pathology

Research interests: My lab studies the role of monocytes and macrophages in the initiation and resolution of chronic inflammation. We are particularly interested in the role chemokines and other chemoattractants play in atherosclerosis - a disease process in arteries that leads to angina, heart attacks and strokes.

Geoff Higgins
Cancer Research UK Clinician Scientist, Department of Oncology

Research interests: Laboratory and clinical research to better understand the molecular basis of tumour cell resistance to radiation treatment with the long term aim of developing treatments to make radiotherapy more effective.

Simon Lovestone
Professor of Translational Neuroscience, Department of Psychiatry

Research interests: Seeking new targets for therapy in Alzheimer's disease by understanding basic mechanisms, in disease modification trials and experimental medicine and in the search for biomarkers for early diagnosis.

Frances Platt
Professor of Biochemistry and Pharmacology, Department of Pharmacology

Research interests: Identifying drugs to target steps in the pathogenic cascade of lysosomal disorders, and testing them as mono-therapies or in combination with other therapies. Evaluating these in a pre-clinical setting before conducting translational studies in patients with clinical collaborators.

Chris Schofield
Head of Organic Chemistry, Department of Chemistry

Research interests: Current projects involve investigations into how human cells respond to variations in oxygen supply, how complex antibiotics are made by biosynthesis in a few steps, how small molecules regulate transcription in humans, and on the chemical basis of epigenetics.

Kevin Talbot
Professor of Motor Neuron Biology, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences

Research interests: Identifying the earliest pathological pathways activated in motor neuron disease in order to define the most therapeutically tractable areas for drug therapy and to apply these findings to clinical studies in patients.

Richard Wade-Martins
Associate Professor of Biomedical Science, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics

Research interests: Understanding molecular mechanisms of age-related neurodegenerative diseases to generate novel molecular therapies.

Anthony Watts
Professor of Biochemistry, Department of Biochemistry

Research interests: Resolving structural details of membrane peptides and proteins at high resolution.

Cathy Ye
Associate Professor in Engineering Science, Department of Engineering Science

Research interests: Stem cell technologies and stem cell based screening platforms.


Ian Churcher

Maximising benefits for all at the academia-industry interface

Simon Lovestone

Alzheimer’s disease - Platforms for translational research

More slides from the symposium presentations will be available shortly - check back soon