International drug-discovery leader Dr Jeanette Wood has been appointed to the Advisory Committee of The University of Queensland’s (UQ) drug discovery initiative, QEDDI, the Queensland Emory Drug Discovery Initiative.
Managed by UQ’s commercialisation company UniQuest, QEDDI is the only facility of its kind in Australia: a world-class, fully-integrated, small molecule drug discovery facility to accelerate the development of new drugs from leading academic research.
UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said QEDDI’s team of industry-experienced biologists and medicinal chemists were working on projects that aimed to translate academic disease biology to new therapies for diseases with unmet medical need.
“Dr Wood brings extensive experience in all aspects of drug discovery and development across disease areas relevant to QEDDI projects including: cancer, cardiovascular, and inflammatory diseases,” he said.
“She has an enviable track record in the discovery of many approved drugs, and has been regularly recognised for her scientific and drug discovery excellence.
“She has served as a scientific and strategic advisor to biotech companies and universities with drug discovery activities around the world, is author of more than 180 peer-reviewed journal publications, book chapters and reviews and an inventor on more than 20 patents.”
Born and educated in New Zealand (University of Otago, Dunedin), Dr Wood began her career in the pharmaceutical industry with Ciba-Geigy in Switzerland working in the cardiovascular area.
Most recently Dr Wood was Chief Scientific Officer of Genkyotex, a Swiss-based biotech company developing new treatments for fibrotic diseases.
Her previous positions include: Vice President and Head of iScience Oncology at AstraZeneca with responsibility for early discovery oncology, and Head of Biology at S*BIO, Singapore’s first biotech drug discovery company.
Dr Wood joined S*BIO after holding senior scientific leadership roles in the pharma company Ciba-Geigy/Ciba/Novartis, including her last role at Novartis as a member of the Oncology Research Management Team and the Research Management Committee.
She is currently performing board director and advisory roles for: Nuevolution in Denmark, Idorsia, Basilea and Telremo in Switzerland, Cumulus in the UK and Maurice Wilkins Institute in New Zealand.
Dr Wood played a key role in the discovery and profiling of several marketed drugs including: Aliskiren (Tekturna), Valsartan (Diovan), Everolimus (Afinitor), Imatinib (Glivec), Fingolimid (Gilenya) and Osimertinib (Tagrisso).
Dr Moss said the QEDDI model was similar to that of leading drug discovery centres such as Emory’s Institute for Drug Development in Atlanta, US, LifeArc in London, and the Lead Discovery Centre in Dortmund, Germany.
“Translating research into drug candidates for clinical trials and taking them through to market can take decades and has a high attrition rate. It is expensive and the risks are great,” he said.
“QEDDI, with its long-term commitment from supporters and its strong team of industry-experienced medicinal chemists and biologists is designed to translate novel world-leading academic research into significant commercial and patient outcomes.”
Dr Wood said QEDDI had the ability to fill gaps not well covered by the pharma industry. “Integrating industry-experienced drug discovery professionals with leading academic research affords a great opportunity for finding novel approaches to treating diseases with high unmet medical need,” she said.
“I am excited to be part of the advisory committee and looking forward to supporting this great initiative.”
UQ’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and member of QEDDI’s Advisory Committee, Professor Robyn Ward, said Dr Wood joined a distinguished group of industry leaders on the committee, which included: world-renowned authorities on the development of antiviral drugs - Professor Dennis Liotta and Dr George Painter - previously of GSK and Triangle Pharmaceuticals; former Head of Medicinal Chemistry at Novartis UK, Professor Brian Cox; and former Global Head of Musculoskeletal Disease Therapeutic Area, Head of Immunology, Inflammation and Respiratory research and Head of preclinical research in Switzerland and the UK at Novartis, Dr Brian Richardson.
“These international leaders have, for the past two years, supported QEDDI’s ongoing projects, targeting some of the world’s most challenging diseases including: cancer, inflammatory disorders and neurodegenerative diseases,” Professor Ward said. “We welcome Dr Wood’s expert guidance.”
QEDDI is supported by the Queensland State Government’s Advance Queensland Initiative, The University of Queensland and UniQuest.
Media: UniQuest, Danielle Koopman, firstname.lastname@example.org, +61 409 767 199.