Our team

The Institute is made up of dedicated drug discovery teams led by a Chief Scientific Officer and two Lead Academic Scientists.

Dr John Davis

Chief Scientific Officer (CSO)

Following postdoctoral training at the Ludwig Institute and the Salk Institute, John joined GlaxoSmithKline where he led a variety of non-clinical pharmacology research departments for pain and neurodegenerative diseases. In 2010, John and colleagues formed the spinout company Convergence Pharmaceuticals, which John later left to become Director of Discovery for Selcia Ltd., and CSO and cofounder of Cypralis Ltd. John has 20 years of drug discovery expertise from target to phase IIa and has helped steer a dozen drug candidates into clinical development and to four positive proof of concepts.

Our Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) leads the Oxford Drug Discovery Institute and drives scientific progress. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss potential collaborations.

Prof Paul Brennan

Head of Chemistry

Paul received his PhD in organic chemistry from UC Berkeley working on combinatorial chemistry and antibiotics. Following post-doctoral research at the University of Cambridge on total synthesis, Paul returned to California to take a position at Amgen. His research was focussed on kinase inhibitors for oncology. After two years at Amgen, Paul moved to Pfizer in Sandwich, UK. In 2011, Paul joined the Structural Genomics Consortium as the Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Nuffield Department of Medicine to discover chemical probes for epigenetic proteins.

Dr Elena Di Daniel

Head of Biology

Elena received her PhD in Biology at University College London working on the mechanism of action of mood stabilizing drugs. Prior to joining the Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, Elena accumulated over 15 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry working with GSK, Takeda and UCB on bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Elena has led teams of scientists responsible for target validation and the initiation of early drug discovery projects and the introduction of stem cell technologies for neuroscience research. Consequently, Elena was responsible for the introduction of several neuroscience targets into the portfolios of these companies and the progression of projects through the early stages of the drug discovery process. She is excited to be working to help translate cutting-edge academic research into medicines to cure or prevent dementia.

Dr Emma Mead

Senior Biologist and Team Leader

Emma received her PhD in Neuroscience from University College London, investigating the role of reactive oxygen species in modulating neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. Following a post-doctoral research position at Cardiff University, where she studied the mechanism of action of naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds, Emma joined Eli Lilly as a senior scientist and team co-ordinator. Emma worked in target validation and early drug discovery for neurodegeneration, and established an in vitro neuroinflammation assay platform. Emma now leads the neuroinflammation team at the ODDI, who utilise human iPSC macrophage and primary microglial cultures for target validation, and develop cell based screening assays for progression of neuroinflammatory projects.

Lead Academic Scientists

Our Lead Academic Scientists act as ambassadors for the Oxford Drug Discovery Institute, facilitating interactions with scientists and access to resources within the University of Oxford and beyond.

Prof Chas Bountra

Chas Bountra is currently Professor of Translational Medicine at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, Head of the Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC) and an Associate Head for the Medical Sciences Division, at the University of Oxford. He has more than two decades of academic and industrial experience in target identification, lead discovery, lead optimisation, and designing phase II and III studies in several neuro-psychiatric, gastro-intestinal and inflammatory conditions. He has now established the SGC as a world leading outfit for human protein structural biology and the chemical biology of epigenetics. Prof Bountra was voted one of the top innovators in the industry in 2012.

Prof Simon Lovestone

Simon Lovestone is Lead for the NIHR Translational Research Collaboration in Dementia – a network of six centres in England working together in translational research for dementia, and Deputy Director of the MRC Dementias Platform UK. He is also Professor of Translational Neuroscience at Oxford University. He has research interests in the regulation of tau phosphorylation, dementia therapeutics and in the search for genetic and other biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease. He has a particular interest in harnessing the power of informatics, including clinical informatics and bioinformatics, and developing innovative ways to extract value from very large variable datasets.