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Head of the Drug Discovery Unit

1983 - 1990

  • Medicinal Chemist, SmithKlineBeecham

1991 - 2001

  • Group Leader, Glaxo
  • Project leader, Glaxo Wellcome
  • Project Leader, GlaxoSmithKline

2001 - 2006

  • Project Leader, Section Head, Astex Therapeutics

2006 -

  • Head of the DDU

Paul has led the development of the DDU since 2006 and has overall responsibility for the Unit’s strategy, scientific quality, delivery of outputs to milestones and building collaborations. Cross-DDU working groups, with input from key opinion leaders, ensures the DDU constantly improves its working practices and approaches, to make certain it is at the forefront of best practice for most effectively running drug discovery projects.

Paul brings a considerable track record of success during his 30 years in drug discovery, playing a significant part in 7 compounds entering pre-clinical development, 2 of which are now in Phase II oncology clinical trials. Paul has a breadth and depth of knowledge of drug discovery through involvement in all aspects of the process, from target assessment, hit discovery, medicinal chemistry, design and interpretation of data from pharmacokinetic and animal model studies to pre-clinical development and regulatory submissions.

Paul’s background is in medicinal chemistry, from the validation of hits from assays, to the development of optimised leads suitable for clinical trials. His experience has included leading a team at Astex Therapeutics Ltd that delivered 3 pre-clinical candidates for oncology, leading a team at GSK that developed a clinical candidate to prevent women giving birth prematurely - a major cause of infant death and morbidity, at Glaxo making a major contribution to the development of a synthetic route to an anti-viral candidate which allowed it to be made in kilogram quantities enabling its entry into pre-clinical development, and at SKB, being the first to make an antiviral agent and designing an effective pro-drug of it , which allowed the project to enter pre-clinical development.

During four and half years at Astex Therapeutics Ltd Paul gained expertise in fragment based drug discovery and strengthened his expertise in structure based drug discovery including the use of ligandability and ligand efficiency concepts. Paul designed the first analogues of a fragment screening hit, and led and contributed to all aspects of the resulting project. The project culminated in AT7519 (Astex Therapeutics Ltd) approved during the summer of 2005 to enter Phase 1 studies in patients with refractory solid tumours. AT7519 is one of the first compounds from fragment based drug discovery to reach clinical trials. Paul designed and was the project leader for a programme that developed AT9311 (Astex Therapeutics Ltd) a novel oral cell cycle inhibitor, which formed the basis of a worldwide licensing agreement with Novartis worth $25 million in upfront payments with potential milestone fees of up to $520m.  Paul also initiated a spin off from the AT9311 project against another oncology kinase target, which identified a clinical development candidate, AT9283, currently in Phase II trials, and helped to initiate a PKB project that resulted in an out licensing package with AstraZeneca.

At Dundee Paul has continued to pursue fragment based approaches, building our fragment library and helping to refine the DDU’s strategy for fragment based hit discovery.