Medicines Discovery Catapult welcomes new scientific and people leaders

Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC) is proud to announce an extension to its talented workforce, further expanding the organisation’s expert R&D offer and adding over 80 years of drug discovery and corporate experience to the team.

The people working for MDC are the organisation’s greatest asset and that is reflected in the appointment of Clare Atherton to the newly created role of Chief People Officer – a strategically significant step for the continued development of MDC. Clare previously held the role of Vice President – People & Organisation at Wood PLC, where she led the delivery of strategic imperatives with a high-level focus on leveraging the talent agenda and the development of leadership capabilities.

Clare believes that MDC is an organisation that “has a strong purpose and provides a positive impact for the benefit of society”. She will be responsible for continuing the great benchmark already set at MDC to attract and retain the best talent.

It is crucially important to MDC to have experts working in key areas of drug discovery. Three exciting new senior scientific appointments have been made in the areas of Bioinformatics, Translational Science and Infection Biology.

Dr Rafael Jimenez joins MDC as the new Head of Bioinformatics. Rafael is the former Head of Research Informatics at Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) where he managed the technical operations of the Early Detection of Neurodegenerative Diseases initiative. Rafael will be leading the development of MDC’s bioinformatics capability, which is creating innovative solutions to be applied to drug discovery challenges. He will be working to advance MDC’s informatics science and services and to further integrate bioinformatics into its laboratory capabilities to offer sophisticated solutions to MDC’s customers and partners.

Dr Anderson Ryan is MDC’s new Head of Translational Science. Anderson spent ten years working as a scientist at AstraZeneca and a further ten years at Oxford University as an Associate Professor where he led a group focussing on translational research in cancer therapeutics and radiotherapy. At MDC, Anderson will be overseeing Translational Science and Biomarker programmes using transcriptomics, mass spectrometry and tissue pathology and also MDC’s preclinical imaging capability. He is also leading MDC’s forward agenda into increased clinical impact. Anderson is looking forward to “doing tremendous work with tremendous people” at MDC and with the drug discovery community, bringing a wealth of drug development experience from his time in academia and pharma.

Dr Helen Bright is an esteemed virologist with 30 years of experience in the biopharmaceutical industry. She joins MDC as the new Head of Infection Biology, overseeing the establishment of MDC’s new Translational Research Facility in Infectious Disease (TRF-ID) and also leading MDC’s wider strategy in infectious diseases. Helen joins MDC from AstraZeneca where she was their Director of Virology Biopharma R&D in the United States and was directly involved in the development of the second generation of COVID-19 vaccines and monoclonal antibodies. Helen’s return to the UK brings a depth of knowledge and expertise back into this area which is a great boost for the UK infection drug discovery community.

Professor Chris Molloy, CEO at MDC, said:

“Attracting, retaining and valuing talent is a company’s greatest responsibility. Clare’s appointment reflects MDC’s maturity, diversity and intent towards its teams across the business.

“We are proud that MDC is a destination for top talent with a desire to enable innovative drug discovery in the UK.”

Professor Peter Simpson, Chief Scientific Officer at MDC, said:

“These appointments truly show the commitment that MDC has to recruit the very best expertise.

Clare joining the senior leadership team as Chief People Officer will enhance our strategy for recruitment and retention of talent, which we need as we continue to drive innovative science forward. Helen, Anderson and Rafael provide us with decades of expertise and experience in areas of strategic priority for MDC, and it is exciting it is to have them join our scientific leadership team.

“MDC is committed to being a priority destination for top-level recruits in UK-based drug discovery, and these appointments demonstrate the ambition of this organisation to enhance and expand our already outstandingly skilled workforce.”