Meet Duygu Yilmaz – Senior Scientist

Enter into Duygu's world as a Molecular Scientist focusing on complex medicines - exploring and coming up with experimental strategies

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

I work in the Target Engagement & Validation team – our goal is to help companies develop better drug molecules that have meaningful effects in the clinic.

We design experiments to demonstrate that a drug molecule engages with its molecular target and affects the biology of the target cell, as intended.

What’s your role within your team?

I am a molecular biologist – I have about 6 years’ industry experience in this field of work. I really enjoy research on the mechanistic biology to understand how complex processes occur inside the cell.

My role is based around exploring and devising experimental strategies to characterise complex medicines. I set up workflows to understand how complex medicines are taken up by the cells, where they traffic inside the cell, and what kind of molecular changes they cause.

What is your scientific training/ career background?

I did my PhD in Biochemistry in the Netherlands. My goal was to study the structure-function of certain ion channels with a view to engineering and reconstituting these proteins in liposomal drug delivery systems. Now I’m using my experience in drug delivery and RNA therapeutics in the characterisation of complex medicines.

In three words, what would best describe your team?

Diverse, committed, and collaborative.

What should people ask you about?

I may not know all the answers, but they can ask me about RNA therapeutics and drug delivery challenges, and we can have a good conversation.

What attracted you to the drug discovery industry and Medicines Discovery Catapult?

It was the concept of accelerating drug discovery by helping small companies and academics to progress their ideas and products faster to patients.

Coming from a small biotech background myself, I am familiar with the difficulties small companies face. Bringing a diverse set of expertise together to support SMEs in developing better therapeutics can really advance drug discovery.

To date, what’s the most extraordinary or interesting job/project you’ve had in your career?

As we were living in extraordinary times with the COVID pandemic, I was volunteering at the Lighthouse Lab – we were testing patient samples for COVID-19. This is definitely the most extraordinary thing I have done, and as a scientist, it is exciting to see the immediate effect of our efforts.

If you could swap your job with anyone in the world, who would you swap with?

I would swap my job with a yoga instructor who lives by the beach in a warm country.

Tell us something you like doing outside of work.

I enjoy a bit of yoga in my spare time, and some day I may swap my job – I can dream!

Learn about how we are shaping the UK into an epicentre for complex medicines – download our State of the Discovery Nation 2021 >