2019 - a year in review

Published: 15 December 2019

2019 has been an exciting one for us at BioAscent and this month GEN – Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, published a profile about BioAscent that captured our story so far - a fitting way to round off the year.

This year has seen new partnerships, government minister visits, team growth and an expansion into the US market. We have taken time to reflect on all that has been achieved this year.

A successful year

We were delighted to announce a three-fold increase in our revenues during 2018 and with projections on-track for a further 2-fold increase in 2019. This year ends with four times the resource than at the start of 2018, with a team of 40 members of staff, and we have successfully combined our existing compound management business with highly experienced chemistry and biology teams with a significant track record of drug discovery success.  We continue to build the team with high calibre and well-respected scientists to meet the growing demand for our services. Find out more about our growth here.

MSP visits

This year we welcomed members of the Scottish Parliament, Ivan McKee MSP (Minister of Trade, Investment and Innovation) and Graham Simpson MSP (Deputy Convener), to our site. During the visits we showcased our biology, chemistry and state-of-the-art compound management and library facilities so that they could see first-hand the great work our team are doing.

Dr Phil Jones’ career journey podcast

Dr Phil Jones talked about his career on the ‘Careers in Discovery’ podcast. He discussed the importance of becoming an expert in this field; why having good people around you is vital; how the role of the chemist is changing and the crucial role of networking and interacting with different kinds of people to expand knowledge. You can listen to the podcast here.

New Partnerships

2019 has been a year of forging partnerships, alliances and collaborations:

European Lead Factory

In May we announced that we had been chosen as partner for the European Lead Factory’s ESCulab (European Screening Centre: unique library for attractive biology) project to push towards the transformation of potential drug targets to new medicines. Over the next five years, the European Lead Factory will initiate 185 new drug discovery projects. Find out more.

Medicines Discovery Catapult

We have collaborated with the Medicines Discovery Catapult to harness the power of AI and machine learning to focus compound collections. To find out more, you can read the case study on the collaboration here. BioAscent was also selected as one of the world-class CRO partners tasked with delivering support to the Medicines Discovery Catapult’s Virtual R&D Discovery Services platform. Read more here.

Heriot-Watt University

We collaborated with scientists at Heriot-Watt University to find a molecule that could be used to stop heart stents failing. Each year, thousands of people in the UK have stents permanently inserted into their arteries to keep blood flowing and treat the underlying cause of coronary heart disease however, 5% of patients have artery walls damaged causing inflammation in the process, meaning several thousand patients have to be readmitted annually. Find out more about the work being done to reduce the failure of stents.

Huntington’s promising leads identified using compound cloud library

Our unique on-demand compound library, Compound Cloud, has been used by the ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute for virtual screening and to progress promising leads against a novel Huntington’s disease target. Find out more here.

PAINS article published in Drug Discovery World

We recently published an article in Drug Discovery World, a quarterly review of drug discovery and development, voicing opinions of some of the industry’s leading experts. The article, written by Dr Philip Jones and Dr Stuart McElroy, is titled ‘Reducing the PAINS in high throughput screening: assay design as a toll for maximising efficiency.’ You can download the full article here.

Welcoming an intern

In June we welcomed Kirsty Tinto, a Pharmacology student at the University of Strathclyde, as part of the Scot Grad Life Sciences Internship Programme. It was fantastic to work with a leading Scottish university to promote opportunities for young graduates. You can read more about Kirsty’s internship experience here.

PhD student welcomed back to BioAscent

George Pandarakalam has been welcomed back to BioAscent as a Senior Scientist in its Biology team. George worked on an assay development project at the European Screening Centre (now BioAscent) back in 2015 and 2016. His work during that time has now been published in a recent  paper alongside BioAscent’s Director of Biosciences, Dr Stuart McElroy, published in the International Journal of Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance. To read more, click here.


We attended a whole host of events throughout the year all across the world including (but not limited to) exhibiting at SLAS 2019 in Washington, poster presentation at the NovAliX conference in Cannes, attended the EFMC-ACSMEDI MedChem Frontiers Symposium in Krakow, and exhibited at ELRIG Drug Discovery in Liverpool and Discovery on Target in Boston, to name a few. These events have been a great way to get the word out about all our services, as well as the perfect opportunity to catch-up with clients and make new, long lasting contacts. Our events schedule is on the website, so you can find out where we will be in 2020.

Thank you for all your support throughout the year and look forward to working with you in 2020.

Integrated Drug Discovery

Science-led drug discovery

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