The Institute is made up of dedicated drug discovery teams led by a Chief Scientific Officer and a Lead Academic Scientist.
Chief Scientific Officer
Our Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) leads the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute and drives scientific progress. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss potential collaborations.
Dr John Skidmore
John Skidmore is a chemist by training, receiving a BA and DPhil from the University of Oxford. Following a post doc at the University of Liverpool with Prof Stan Roberts, John joined GSK where he worked as a medicinal chemist and project leader in the pain and neurodegeneration therapeutic areas. In 2010 John moved to the University of Cambridge, where, funded through the Wellcome Trust’s Seeding Drug Discovery scheme, he led a number of protein-protein interaction inhibitor projects. In 2015 John moved within the University, to his present position as the CSO of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute. To discuss possible targets, please get in touch.
Head of Chemistry
Dr Steve Andrews
Steve Andrews obtained his Ph.D. in organic chemistry with Prof Steve Ley CBE FRS at the University of Cambridge. Following postdoctoral studies at ETH-Zürich with Prof Erick Carreira, Steve joined Heptares Therapeutics in 2008 where he played a key role in establishing the chemistry laboratories. Steve led structure-based drug design programs with “intractable” GPCRs across multiple disease areas at Heptares, including with peptide, orphan, purine, and chemokine receptors. He is a co-inventor of Heptares’ first nominated clinical candidate, the adenosine A2A receptor antagonist HTL-1071. Steve joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute as Head of Chemistry in 2016.
Head of Biology
Dr James Duce
James Duce obtained his Ph.D from Cardiff University in the neurobiology of Huntington’s disease. He broadened his neurodegenerative disease research knowledge through postdoctoral studies with Prof Carmela Abraham in Boston USA and Profs Colin Masters and Ashley Bush in Melbourne, Australia. His return to the UK in 2012, supported through an Alzheimer’s Research UK Senior Fellowship, enabled him to run a team at University of Leeds that validated several posttranslational modifications as disease targets. He has subsequently led several internationally funded translational projects in neurodegenerative disease. James joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute as Head of Biology in 2017.
Lead Academic Scientist
Our Lead Academic Scientist acts as an ambassador for the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute, facilitating interactions with scientists and access to resources within the University of Cambridge and beyond.
Prof David Rubinsztein
David Rubinsztein did a BSc(Med) Hons and PhD at the University of Cape Town after his basic medical training and house jobs. He came to Cambridge in 1993 as a senior registrar in Genetic Pathology. He was awarded a Glaxo Wellcome Fellowship in 1997, a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellowship (2001, renewed in 2006) and a Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellowship in 2011. He is also deputy director of the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research.
David has focussed on understanding the biology of autophagy in mammalian systems, particularly in the context of neurodegenerative diseases. His laboratory was the first to suggest the strategy of autophagy upregulation as a possible therapeutic approach in various neurodegenerative diseases and they have identified drugs and novel pathways that may be exploited for this objective. His laboratory has also identified druggable pathways independent of autophagy that may be relevant to diseases caused by aggregate-prone proteins.
Collaborating academics include:
- Peter St George-Hyslop
- Michel Goedert
- Chris Dobson
- Rick Livesey
- Mike Murphy
- Chris Abell
- Ashok Venkitaraman
- John O’Brien
- Roger Barker
- Ed Bullmore.
Andrew obtained a BSc (Hons) degree at The University of Melbourne in Australia and was a research assistant for over 10 years before completing a PhD in neuroscience at The University of Leeds. His research resulted in the discovery of a potential drug target in Alzheimer’s Disease where the precise cellular mechanism of action was elucidated. Andrew joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute as an Associate Biologist in 2019.
Andrew Lim obtained his PhD from the University of Dundee. He then proceeded to work as Postdoctoral Researcher in Drug Discovery in a project funded by the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation, in which he represented the academic partner Oxford Clinical Research Unit based in Vietnam to work in an academic-industrial collaborative project on the development of an intracellular bacterial assay in GSK Tres Cantos research site in Spain. He joined ADDI on Feb 2020 as the Assay Development and Screening Scientist.
Caroline’s role within the ADDI is the Laboratory Manager / Laboratory Coordinator providing service and support for the biology and chemistry laboratories. She is responsible for the general maintenance and upkeep of the team including procurement of equipment and consumables, servicing and repair of equipment, health and safety training and record keeping. Caroline is the key person for liaising with senior scientists and building management in order to keep the team ship shape and Bristol fashion.
After obtaining a Master’s Degree at the University of Toulouse – France (2015), Clément has been working in pharmaceutical & biotech companies. He first started at UCB pharma in Slough where he joined the Biomarker team to implement flow-cytometry and new assays. Then he moved to Cambridge and F-Star therapeutics to develop bispecific antibodies crossing the blood-brain barrier. In 2020, Clément joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery as Research Assistant to be part of the screening team.
David joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute in February 2019 to lead the in vivo biology group. David has spent more than twenty years working as a neuroscientist in the pharmaceutical industry (GSK and Takeda), with spells in academia (Cambridge University Sub-department of Animal Behaviour and Department of Pharmacology). David’s main areas of interest are in in vivo pharmacology, validation of novel drug targets, cognition testing in rodents and transgenic models of neurodegenerative disease.
David Winpenny joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute in 2016 after >20 years working in Drug Discovery research within industry. David has worked across a wide range of disease areas and developed assays and HTS for multiple target classes including receptors, ion channels, transporters and enzymes. David now leads the Screening team at the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute and is responsible for compound libraries and supporting chemistry led projects though screening campaigns and ongoing SAR generation.
Duncan obtained his PhD in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge, and went on to lead a multidisciplinary drug discovery team against challenging protein targets at the University. He joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute in 2016, where he currently leads a drug discovery team. His research interests include drug discovery, medicinal chemistry, biophysics and neurodegeneration.
Greg completed his PhD in the field of natural product total synthesis at the University of St Andrews in 2015. After a brief foray into research and development for a fine chemicals contract manufacturing company, he joined the Northern Institute of Cancer Research based at the Newcastle University working on the synthesis of kinase inhibitors. From January 2018 Greg has been part of the medicinal chemistry team at the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute working on the design and synthesis small drug-like molecules for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
After obtaining her Chemistry PhD at Southampton University, Helen has worked in drug discovery on a variety of biological targets and therapeutic areas, including the delivery of a clinical candidate for a CNS indication. Having gained over nine years’ industrial experience, Helen joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute in 2016, where she has managed the medicinal chemistry within key projects aimed at treating dementia-related diseases.
Henriëtte joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute as a Senior Research Associate in 2016. She obtained her PhD in Medicinal Chemistry in 1996 from the University of Cambridge. She then joined software company Molecular Simulations (now BIOVIA), and moved into computational chemistry. Subsequently, she worked as a computational chemist for several small biotechs and large pharma companies, including Astex Pharmaceuticals, GSK and Takeda. She has published on several structure-based drug design projects and contributed to drug discovery patents in a wide range of therapeutic areas.
Iryna obtained her PhD at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium in the lab of Bart De Strooper, heavily focused on molecular mechanisms of neurodegenerative disorders. She studied potential side effects arising from BACE2 cross-inhibition by BACE1 inhibitors that were evaluated in clinical trials for AD at the time. Iryna joined the in vivo Biology team of the ALBORADA DDI in April 2019.
Jonathan joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute in September 2015 from a senior research position in Prof Robin Irvine’s lab in the Department of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge. Since completing a PhD in bacterial enzymology and molecular biology at the Babraham Institute he has been working extensively in the fields of cell signalling and lipid biochemistry at both the Netherlands Cancer Institute and the University of Cambridge.
Luisa graduated in Biological Sciences from the University of Milano and obtained her PhD from the University of Brescia, Italy. She is a cell biologist and molecular biologist whose main research interests are in cell signalling, lipid intracellular transport and enzymology. Luisa has worked at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands with Prof G. van Meer, at the University of Cambridge with Prof. R. Irvine and at the Babraham Institute with Dr N. Ktistakis and Dr L. Stephens. She joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute in March 2019.
Matthew obtained his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Sheffield before doing his first Postdoc at the University of Leeds. His research focused on amyloidogenic proteins and protein misfolding diseases, studying these proteins both biophysically and in cells. Since August 2018 he has been using these skills within the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute to develop cellular aggregation assays for neurodegeneration.
Peter Sterk obtained his PhD in Molecular Biology from Wageningen University in the Netherlands. Since then his focus has changed from wet lab research to bioinformatics. He has worked at the European Bioinformatics Institute (Hinxton, UK), the Universities of Amsterdam, Oxford and Cambridge and Pfizer Neusentis. He joined the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research in 2015 where he provides core bioinformatics support. Since September 2017 he also provides bioinformatics support at the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute.
Stefan obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2014, studying the molecular mechanisms of axon degeneration. During his first Post-Doc at the University of Cambridge, he worked on the role of microglial phagocytosis in neurodegenerative disease. He joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute in 2017, focussing on high-content imaging assay development and screening.
Stephen obtained his Chemistry PhD in 2017 from Imperial College London, in which he developed a novel and divergent synthesis of 3‑dimensional molecular scaffolds for use within drug discovery. Upon completion of his PhD he joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute as a synthetic chemist, developing novel molecules of interest to the dementia-research field.
Tim obtained a DPhil from the University of Oxford with Prof Stuart Conway, developing some of the first selective ligands for non-BET bromodomains. In 2014, Tim moved to a postdoctoral position with Prof Chris Abell at the University of Cambridge, using fragment based drug discovery to develop inhibitors of protein-protein interactions. Tim joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute in 2016, helping to get the chemistry labs established, and is lead chemist on a number of neurodegeneration drug discovery projects.
Verena finished her training as a Biomedical Analyser in 2009 which was followed by a Master’s Degree in Molecular Cell- and Developmental Biology at the University in Innsbruck, Austria. After gaining experience in a medical routine laboratory Verena joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute in July 2017 and is involved in various projects and also works on high-content imaging assay development and screening.
Yoo Koung Ko
Yoo Koung (YK) is a neuroscientist by training, receiving a BSc (Hons) and PhD from the University of Edinburgh. During her PhD research, she studied synapse biology using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing in Prof Seth Grant and Dr Noboru Komiyama labs. Upon completion of her PhD, she joined the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute as Associate Biologist in August 2018.