Advisory Board

Guy Hembury, Deputy Director at the University of Portsmouth

Dr Guy Hembury is currently Deputy Director (Commercialisation and External Partnerships) within Research & Innovation Services at the University of Portsmouth, UK. He has the lead role across the University for commercialisation of research and innovation activity, developing strategies and mechanisms to increase commercial and academic returns. Working with faculties to develop strategic activities and build the partnerships with external organisations to create mutual value.

Guy is also active in science policy and politics. He is Vice-President and Council member of the Parliamentary & Scientific Committee (the UK’s first All Party Parliamentary Group), providing long-term liaison between Parliament, scientific bodies, industry and academia on key issues of science and policy. Additionally, he is a member of the Parliamentary Affairs Committee, which comprises senior representatives of the UK’s national professional scientific bodies (academic and industrial) and Parliamentary organisations, and explores and develops joint thinking and responses to key science-impacting policy issues.

Prior to his current positions, Guy’s career has over 20-years of multi-perspective university sector experience: research, teaching, enterprise, student recruitment, professional services and senior management – internally and as an external industry partner. Working at and with organisations globally, bringing together academics, professional services and senior management staff to partner with funders, business and Government to develop and deliver strategic and major projects, programmes and change agendas.

Nick Lynch, CTO of Open PHACTS

Nick has over 20 years experience in Informatics and was at AstraZeneca for 13 years leading teams in R&D Informatics, working especially on global integration projects within pre-clinical & early clinical research, externalisation & data exchange for the AZ R&D activities. Became involved in various pre-competitive activities and a co-founder of Pistoia Alliance as well supporting the initial Open PHACTS project from early business case definitions, eTriks and EBI industry programme.

Established Curlew Research in 2014 working on a number of projects with Pharma/Biotech and Life Science informatics companies. Nick is also the CTO of Open PHACTS, a semantic data and services platform for pre-clinical data.

Delighted to be part of the BioExcel SAB and to support the project and its sustainability

Zara Sands, Principal Scientist, UCB BioPharma

After graduating from Manchester University with a 1st class BSc Hons degree in Chemistry Zara Sands embarked upon a PhD in the Cancer Research School, at Nottingham University where she successfully completed her doctoral training in Computational Medicinal Chemistry. In 2003 she took a Welcome Trust Fellowship position at the University of Oxford and under the direction of Prof. Mark Sansom developed an expertise in membrane protein (MP) structural biology & biophysics. In 2006 Zara joined AstraZeneca where she applied and developed cutting edge in silico technologies for studying challenging CNS targets. In 2009, she was recruited by UCB BioPharma to support and strengthen their CNS drug discovery pipeline through the application and development of in silico technologies towards membrane protein targets. She has been instrumental in developing UCB BioPharma’s MP drug discovery capabilities and through the judicious application of computational approaches has been able to successfully drive UCB’s GPCR drug discovery projects towards clinical candidates. She is engaged in numerous collaborations with world leading MP (computational) structural biology researchers – with the aim of developing and applying state of the art science to address membrane protein drug discovery/design challenges.

Marc Baaden, Group Leader CNRS/IBPC

Dr. Marc Baaden is internationally recognized for research on membrane proteins via high performance computing, comprising the development of novel bioinformatics methods offered to the scientific community. A physical chemist by training, he oriented his research towards biological systems and phenomena at membranes and interfaces. Water and ion transport play a particular role in these computational studies that are always connected to experimental and clinical biomedical research.

Mark Forster, Group Leader STFC Daresbury laboratory

Dr. Mark Forster gained his Ph.D in NMR spectroscopy from the University of London. His early research focused on NMR and computational studies of organometallic and biological macromolecules. A key highlight was the first elucidation of the solution state structure of heparin, which later proved to be consistent with several independent crystal structure studies. Mark has experience a of commercial scientific software environment from his time working in the USA. From 2001 to 2016 Mark held a number of roles at Syngenta, a world leading agri-business. These spanned a range from plant biotechnology, to chemical informatics, structure elucidation, compound logistics and structure databases, as well as external relations and supplier management. Mark plays an active role in the scientific open source community, with both code contributions, publishing, and organising conferences. He was awarded a ‘blue obelisk’ in 2016 for his work in this community. In terms of project and research infrastructure engagement Mark has served as chair of the Industry Advisory Committee (IAC) for Elixir, as well as chair of the Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) for the OpenPHACTS project. From 2016 onwards Mark has worked in the field of scientific computing at the STFC Daresbury laboratory in NW England.

Ola Engkvist, Head Molecular AI, AstraZeneca, and Adjunct Professor in AI and Machine Learning Based Drug Design, Chalmers University of Technology

Dr Ola Engkvist is head of Molecular AI in Discovery Sciences, AstraZeneca R&D. He did his PhD in computational chemistry at Lund University followed by a postdoc at Cambridge University. After working for two biotech companies he joined AstraZeneca in 2004. He currently lead the Molecular AI department, where the focus is to develop novel methods for ML/AI in drug design , productionalize the methods and apply the methods to AstraZeneca’s small molecules drug discovery portfolio. His main research interests are deep learning based molecular de novo design, synthetic route prediction and large scale molecular property predictions. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific publications. He is adjunct professor in machine learning and AI for drug design at Chalmers University of Technology and a trustee of Cambridge Crystallographic Data Center.

Herman van Vlijmen, Senior Director, Computational Chemistry at Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson

Dr. Herman van Vlijmen graduated with a Master’s degree in Bio-Pharmaceutical Sciences at Leiden University in The Netherlands and a PhD degree in Physical Chemistry at Harvard University

He worked 9 years at the biotech company Biogen in the Boston area, ultimately as Senior Scientist, in the computational design of small molecule drugs and protein therapeutics.

In 2005 he joined Tibotec, a Johnson and Johnson company focusing on infectious diseases, as Director of Computational Drug Design. He is now Global Head of Computational Chemistry in the Discovery Sciences organization at Janssen, Pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson, located in Belgium.

Since 2008 he is also Adjunct Professor of Computational Drug Discovery at Leiden University.

Herman has more than 70 publications and is inventor on 8 patents.