Chief Scientific Officers take the helm of £30 million dementia Drug Discovery Alliance

Posted on 4th December 2015

Alzheimer’s Research UK has appointed three Chief Scientific Officers to drive its £30million Drug Discovery Alliance. The Alliance, which unites three Drug Discovery Institutes at the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and University College London, is a unique drug discovery venture in dementia research.

There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and that number is set to reach one million by 2020. Yet, there have been no new treatments for Alzheimer’s since 2002 and many people with other causes of dementia have no specific treatments available to them.

The Alzheimer’s Research UK Drug Discovery Alliance will tackle this desperate lack of medicines head-on. Dr John Skidmore will lead the work of the Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute as its Chief Scientific Officer, joined by Dr John Davis at the Oxford Drug Discovery Institute and Prof Paul Whiting at the UCL Drug Discovery Institute. Together, they bring decades of drug discovery experience, spanning the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, as well as academia. The Chief Scientific Officers will unite the groundbreaking neuroscience research taking place across the UK and beyond, driving the development of the best ideas in the hunt for new treatments for dementia.

Dr John Skidmore, Chief Scientific Officer at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute, said:

“I’m delighted to take on this new challenge at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute, to support research through the critical early phases of drug discovery. I’ll be drawing on the wealth of expertise that surrounds us at the University of Cambridge and throughout the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, in the hunt for key proteins or biological processes that could play a critical role in the diseases that cause dementia. I’ll lead an expert drug discovery team, made up of biologists and chemists, to start the search for compounds that could act to slow or stop these diseases.”

Dr John Davis, Chief Scientific Officer at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, added:

“There is a growing recognition of the huge impact dementia has and the desperate need to develop medicines to tackle the diseases that cause it. We aim to capitalise on the momentum building within the dementia research community and accelerate progress towards new treatments. We will make sure that research taking place in Oxford and beyond is at the cutting edge of current drug discovery efforts in dementia and I firmly believe that we will be successful in delivering experimental drugs with the potential of being the new dementia drugs of tomorrow.”

Prof Paul Whiting Chief Scientific Officer at the Alzheimer’s Research UK UCL Drug Discovery Institute, added:

“The Drug Discovery Alliance is a fantastic opportunity to make tangible steps towards treatments for neurodegenerative diseases. While we will draw on individual strengths within our host institutions to drive innovation and progress, the three Institutes will keep an open dialogue to maximise potential for developing promising targets. We are interested in talking to academic scientists whose ideas and proposals for can be explored as potential treatment targets.”

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:

“Dementia is our greatest medical challenge and to find new treatments for the condition, we need big ambitions supported by a world-class team. We’re delighted to welcome the three Chief Scientific Officers on board to share our vision and drive. They’ll bring more than a decade of drug development experience to our unique venture, ensuring that we’re exploring as many promising avenues as we can to find successful new treatments. With 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, this is a condition we cannot ignore and we must continue to invest in world-leading research to change the lives of those affected.”

Posted in Science news