brain 180Alzheimer’s Research UK has appointed three chief scientific officers (CSOs) to drive its £30 million Drug Discovery Alliance that draws from the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford and London (UCL).

The Alliance will couple the disease knowledge and biology expertise of the academic community with high quality, innovative drug discovery capabilities. The Alliance aims to accelerate the discovery of novel, effective therapeutics for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions.

Dr John Skidmore, Dr John Davis and Professor Paul Whiting will head up the Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute, the Oxford Drug Discovery Institute and the UCL Drug Discovery Institute respectively. Together, they bring decades of drug discovery experience, spanning the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, as well as academia.

Dr Simon Ridley, director of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “The Alliance is an ambitious and joined up approach to pharma-standard drug discovery within major academic centres of dementia research, and one of only a few such approaches in the world.

"We’re delighted to welcome on board three experienced CSOs, who share our vision and drive. The Drug Discovery Alliance is a call to action to the academic community and will act as a conduit between basic research and treatments in the clinic. The CSOs will collaborate extensively to ensure multiple parallel approaches are tested and developed – a concerted effort to tackle society’s greatest medical challenge.”

Dr Skidmore is a medicinal chemist, with a wealth of expertise working in the neurodegeneration and pain disease areas at pharma company GSK. Most recently, he has lead drug discovery projects at the University of Cambridge, funded through the Wellcome Trust’s Seeding Drug Discovery Scheme.

He hopes to "tackle this huge area of unmet clinical need by uniting the growing understanding of the underlying disease provided by academia with the broad drug discovery expertise of the Drug Discovery Alliance.”

Dr Davis has 20 years of drug development expertise, from target to Phase IIa, and has helped steer a dozen drug candidates into clinical development. In his role Dr Davis plans to "take a broad and collaborative approach to target identification, drawing on discoveries being made by academic researchers in the UK, as well as further afield, making extensive use of disease specific in vitro and in vivo models for robust validation.”

Finally, Professor Whiting has more than 20 years of pharmaceutical neuroscience drug discovery and sees the Drug Discovery Alliance as "a fantastic opportunity to make tangible steps towards treatments for neurodegenerative diseases.”

As well as seeking academic partners, the Drug Discovery Alliance is looking to interact with industrial collaborators to support the development of the portfolio through a variety of drug discovery functions. The three CSOs are now recruiting to their drug discovery teams to drive forward the work of the Alliance.

To find out more visit