× Medicines Discovery Catapult
An article from our series:

Which team do you work in, and what does that team do?

I work in the Cheminformatics team, headed by Dr Andrew Pannifer. Our team is primarily focused on supporting the UK SME drug discovery community, through the development of AI and statistical approaches in order to better leverage the chemical and biological data to help them better achieve their goals.

Some of the current focus areas of the team include:

  • The development of modern AI predictive tools for target and physicochemical property prediction
  • The development of generative deep learning approaches for computer-assisted de novo drug design
  • Data-driven drug repositioning

What’s your role in the team?

I work as a Cheminformatics Data Scientist. My particular focus is on the application of machine learning methods to aid drug design, and in particular to facilitate UK SME access to recent advancements in this area.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The opportunity to work with UK SMEs specialising in a wide variety of therapeutic areas.

How long have you worked at Medicines Discovery Catapult, and why did you join?

I have worked at Medicines Discovery Catapult for approximately 1.5 years at this point. Prior to the role, I had recently completed my PhD in computational X-ray crystallography, focusing on the development of automated tools for the detection and mitigation of unwanted radiation damage with MX data collections.

I was very interested in pursuing opportunities that would combine my background in mathematics and structural biology, and after chatting with Andrew and John Overington (CIO), I was hooked on the goals of MDC.

Tell us about the work you’ve done, either at Medicines Discovery Catapult or elsewhere, that you’re most proud of.

At MDC, we have recently worked with the MS Society, in order to develop a data-driven approach to the identification of potential drug candidates for multiple sclerosis using modern machine learning approaches. This project ultimately led to a short-listed set of priority drugs for consideration by the MS Society’s own expert review panel.

Check out our MS Society case study >

How do you stay connected with what’s happening in the industry?

I work alongside a highly talent set of colleagues with expertise extending across the drug discovery pipeline – I find that working closely with my team keeps me connected with advances in the industry. Conferences are also an excellent tool to stay informed; I’ll be speaking at the UK QSAR Spring 2020 Meeting held at Alderley Park, if you would like to chat.

Tell us something you like doing outside of work.

I’m passionate about fitness and always looking to throw myself into some kind of ambitiously long distance run, triathlon or open water swim.

Get to know our Cheminformatics team – meet Anna Pallo, Cheminformatician as she shares her passion for programming and chemistry in her role.

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