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NDM is pleased to announce that Professor Paul Brennan has been appointed to be the new Director of the Centre for Medicines Discovery (CMD). Dr Emma Mead will take over as interim Chief Scientific Officer of the Alzheimer's Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ODDI) until a permanent replacement is identified.

Paul Brennan and Emma Mead outside the CMD
Dr Emma Mead and Prof Paul Brennan

The appointments follow a process of internal and external consultation involving CMD’s stakeholders and partners. The previous CMD Director, Prof Chas Bountra, recently commenced a new role as NDM Head of Impact and Innovation, in addition to being Pro Vice-Chancellor for Innovation for the University of Oxford.

The CMD works to identify new therapeutic approaches, develop new technologies, and build broad partnerships to translate scientific discovery into new medicines. In a rapidly changing world, the CMD uses academic approaches to address bottlenecks in medicine discovery and in particular works to accelerate the development of drugs for unmet medical needs.

Prof Brennan received his PhD in organic chemistry from UC Berkeley. Following post-doctoral research at Cambridge University, he spent eight years working in the pharmaceutical industry at Amgen and Pfizer. Prof Brennan joined NDM in 2011 and is Professor of Medicinal Chemistry. His research group works at the interface of chemistry and biology to design probes and inhibitors to investigate the intricate workings of human proteins and cells, with particular interest in GTPases, rare diseases, and dementia.

Prof Brennan said: “It’s an exciting moment to take the helm of the CMD. Now more than ever, it’s vital we bridge the gap between discovery research and getting drugs to patients. As Director of the CMD my aim will be to bring world-leading scientists and commercial partners together to accelerate the discovery of novel therapeutics across a diverse set of disease areas. I want to thank Chas Bountra for his leadership of the CMD for the past three years, his mentorship throughout my time in Oxford, and look forward to working with him in his new role, the Head of Department and the other unit directors across NDM and other departments in the University to deliver cutting edge research and discovery.”

Dr Emma Mead will take over from Prof Brennan as interim Chief Scientific Officer of the Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute. The ODDI couples the deep disease knowledge and biology expertise of the academic community with high quality, innovative drug discovery technologies, to accelerate the discovery of novel, effective therapeutics for Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr Mead received her PhD in Neuroscience from University College London and undertook post-doctoral research at Cardiff University. Dr Mead joined NDM in 2018 following a career working in industry. Her research focuses on the innate immune system and neuroinflammation and she is currently Head of Biology for the ODDI.

Dr Mead said: “The ODDI was set up to bridge high-quality drug discovery expertise with a deep scientific and academic understanding of patients, disease mechanisms, and model systems. I want to continue this vital work, translating cutting edge academic science into drug discovery, and delivering projects from target to lead status and beyond.”