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Angelo Pugliese is a highly experienced computational chemist with over 15 years' experience working across different organisations in the US and UK. In this blog, we look at Angelo’s career journey which started at the School of Pharmacy in Naples and has taken him across the Atlantic before settling in Scotland.

Angelo’s story starts in his home country of Italy where he studied Pharmacy at the University of Naples. He then moved to the UK to pursue his PhD in Computational Chemistry at the University of Nottingham. His research there involved the utilisation of molecular dynamics and high-performance computing to simulate the dynamics of Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA), an artificially synthesised polymer to DNA and RNA.

Angelo reflects: “The molecular modelling group at the University is world-renowned and I was keen to be able to carry out my PhD there and work alongside such a specialised and respected group.”

Upon completion of his PhD, Angelo then moved to the US to focus on his postdoctoral study as a Hormel Fellow at the Minnesota Supercomputing Institute & Hormel Institute at the University of Minnesota. During his time there, Angelo spent the first two years working on computational structural biology and drug discovery projects. In his third year, he was involved in planning a new molecular modelling lab at the Hormel Institute in collaboration with IBM Rochester which also involved gaining experience of the newly installed Blue Gene/P supercomputer.

At the end of 2009, Angelo moved to Maryland as a ‘visiting scientist’ at the National Cancer Institute where he stayed for two years and developed machine learning models to predict the metabolism and metabolites of drug-like small molecules.

On completion of his work as a Research Fellow at the National Cancer Institute, Angelo then moved back across the Atlantic to Scotland where he took up a position in the Drug Discovery Unit at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow.

Angelo recalls: “I wanted to be back in Europe to be close to my family and home. I was hired to lead the computational chemistry effort at the Drug Discovery Unit at the Beatson Institute which was an exciting opportunity for me.”

Angelo worked on numerous projects and progressed from Staff Scientist and Project Lead in Computational Chemistry and Machine Learning to Team Lead responsible for the development and application of computational chemistry and artificial intelligence. His team was responsible for the computational drug discovery process including ligand and structure-based drug design, fragment-based drug design, library design, virtual screening, cheminformatics, simulations, data analysis and predictive and generative chemistry.

After nine and a half years at the Beatson Institute, Angelo decided it was time for a change and whilst looking for a new challenge, he came across an interesting new opportunity at BioAscent.

Angelo comments: “I was aware that BioAscent was fast becoming a leading integrated drug discovery CRO, and that they were keen to develop their computational chemistry service offering to their global customer base. The opportunity at BioAscent was exciting as I could see it would be a new challenge for me that would push me out of my comfort zone.”

Angelo joined BioAscent in January 2021 as Associate Director of In Silico Discovery and Data Analysis, with the clear remit to establish the in silico offering as part of the company’s integrated drug discovery service

“Joining a new company in a pandemic was interesting as I didn’t get the opportunity to properly meet with many of the team. However, given my work is computer-based, it wasn’t too much of an issue and I was able to focus on getting the right systems and processes in place to provide the foundations to grow the in silico group.” 

In Silico Discovery has become an integrated part of the BioAscent service offering and Angelo is now responsible for growing the group as demand increases, whilst working on numerous customer projects. 

Angelo’s career has also seen him published in a number of journals, and he is an established presenter and speaks regularly at industry meetings and events.

“I was working from a blank canvas, and it took a while to understand BioAscent and how computational chemistry fits into the bigger picture, in part this was due to working from home during lockdown. However, the team has been nothing but supportive. Being part of a growing CRO is fast-paced and offers so many opportunities – there are many exciting developments in my area of specialism, not least in the field of artificial intelligence. Keeping ahead of the curve to support our customers will be key, as well as ensuring we continue to attract people with the right skills.”

 

BioAscent is a growing drug discovery contract research organisation based in Scotland. To find out more about why BioAscent is such a great place to work and to read more about current vacancies, click here.

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Associate Director, In Silico Discovery and Data Analysis

Dr Angelo Pugliese

Angelo is a highly experienced computational chemist, project leader and strategic contributor to discovery teams, and has over 15 years’ experience working across different organisations in US and UK. He has a PhD in computational chemistry from the University of Nottingham. Prior to joining BioAscent, Angelo led the computational chemistry and artificial intelligence team at the drug discovery unit at the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research in Glasgow. Angelo is an expert in in silico structure-based and fragments-based methodologies applied to drug design with a passion for machine learning. He is a co-author on more than 30 publications and patents including a book chapter on fragments library design. Angelo is also a reviewer for several highly regarded journals and fellowships, and serves as an advisory board member for several international conferences.

Director of Chemistry

Dr Angus Morrison

Angus has over 15 years’ experience as a practising medicinal chemist leading both project and medicinal chemistry delivery in multinational and multidisciplinary teams.  In his most recent role as Head of Chemistry at the European Screening Centre Newhouse he was Medicinal Chemistry lead of the European Lead Factory project responsible for over 30 hit to leads programmes.  Prior to this Angus has held leadership roles at Organon, Schering-Plough, MSD, Prosidion and Redx Oncology. During his time in pre-clinical drug discovery he has had broad exposure and experience of working across a diverse range of therapeutic areas and target classes from hit generation to candidate nomination.  Angus has a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Strathclyde University and carried out Postgraduate studies at Cambridge University. He is a co-author on over 30 papers and patents.

Director of Chemistry

Dr Angus Morrison

Angus has over 15 years’ experience as a practising medicinal chemist leading both project and medicinal chemistry delivery in multinational and multidisciplinary teams.  In his most recent role as Head of Chemistry at the European Screening Centre Newhouse he was Medicinal Chemistry lead of the European Lead Factory project responsible for over 30 hit to leads programmes.  Prior to this Angus has held leadership roles at Organon, Schering-Plough, MSD, Prosidion and Redx Oncology. During his time in pre-clinical drug discovery he has had broad exposure and experience of working across a diverse range of therapeutic areas and target classes from hit generation to candidate nomination.  Angus has a PhD in Organic Chemistry from Strathclyde University and carried out Postgraduate studies at Cambridge University. He is a co-author on over 30 papers and patents..

Dr David Milroy

David is a Partner at Maven Capital Partners where he is a member of Maven’s Investment Committee and is responsible for sourcing and executing private equity investments in Scotland as well as technology and life science investments across the UK. His current investments include Blacktrace Group, Curo Compensation, Optoscribe, QikServe, CB Technology and BioAscent. David started his career as a scientist with GlaxoSmithKline.

After completing his PhD, he moved to international consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie (and then parent Deutsche Bank) where he supported the healthcare banking team, advising clients on their corporate and licensing strategies; and performing due diligence projects on companies, products and technologies.

David joined Aberdeen Asset Management’s private equity division (spun-out to form Maven in 2009) in September 2007 as Fund Manager for an early-stage technology fund. David has a First Class Honours degree in Pharmacy, a PhD (Molecular Biology/Gene Delivery) from the University of Bath and a MBA from The University of Edinburgh.

Associate Director of Chemistry

Dr Duncan McArthur

Duncan is an experienced medicinal chemist having worked in the pharmaceutical and not-for-profit sectors for over 18 years. He has broad scientific expertise in several therapeutic areas, working in both lead finding and lead optimisation project teams. Duncan is expert in fragment-based hit finding strategies and developing HTS campaigns. In his previous roles at MSD and more latterly, the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research (BICR), Duncan led multiple internal and cross-site collaborative project teams and managed outsourced chemistry efforts across different companies. Duncan spent over 10 years at the BICR working in the area of fragment-based drug discovery, prioritising and developing mM affinity fragment hits to high affinity lead series. Duncan is a co-author on 20 papers and patents.

CEO BioCity

Dr Glenn Crocker MBE DPhil

Glenn Crocker is an experienced CEO, company founder, non-executive director and investor in the life sciences sector. He has been CEO of BioCity Group since mid-2003, shortly after it was founded. He has a DPhil in Immunology from Oxford University and qualified as a chartered accountant with EY, focussing on working with biotech companies in Palo Alto, California and Cambridge, UK, where he headed up the UK Biotech practice for EY.

BioCity builds, funds and grows life science companies at its four incubator sites in the UK.

Glenn is a non-executive director of a number of companies and consults on business incubation, start-up creation and cluster growth. He has been directly involved in investing in life science companies through BioCity’s own or managed funds since 2006.

In 2014 Glenn received an MBE for services to the biotechnology industry.

Dr Louis J. Nisbet D.Sc. - Vivanova Ltd

Dr Louis Nisbet

Louis began his career in pharmaceuticals R&D with Roche, Glaxo and SmithKline during which period he achieved international recognition in the discovery of NCEs in infectious diseases. He was one of the UK’s first biotechnology entrepreneurs establishing Xenova and Brax both of which achieved successful exits via IPO and trade sale respectively.

He was the first recipient of the Ernst & Young Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Since 2000 he has been active in investing and building businesses in the private and public equity markets across the health sector. Venture capital investments have been with Kurma Partners, Sitka Partners, Noble Group and Alderley Park Ventures.

He has considerable executive and non-executive Board experience with over 20 quoted and private companies. He has a Ph.D. from Imperial College, London and D.Sc. from the U of Strathclyde.

Chief Commercial Officer

Dr Mike Piper

Mike is an experienced life sciences professional with a track record in sales and marketing strategy, general management, licensing and contract negotiation.  Mike was formerly Head of Sales and Marketing at CXR Biosciences, an investigative toxicology CRO. Following CXR’s acquisition by Concept Life Sciences in 2015 he became Vice President Business Development Safety & Toxicology.  Prior to his time at CXR, Mike worked in business development and licensing at the specialty pharmaceutical company Ardana plc, and held various pharmaceutical industry management consultancy roles at ZS Associates, Deloitte and Arthur Andersen Business Consulting.  Mike has a PhD in genomics from the University of Cambridge, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.

Chief Scientific Advisor

Dr Phil Jones

Phil has over 30 years medicinal chemistry and drug discovery experience from Roche, Organon, Schering-Plough, Merck and the University of Dundee including senior roles as Executive Director and Acting Site Head. He was a member of the Research Leadership Council at Schering-Plough. Numerous clinical candidates resulted from groups for which he was responsible. These span a broad range of target families and therapeutic areas. He has led the European Screening Centre team at Biocity Scotland, Newhouse for the past 5 years and this group plays a key role in delivering validated hit series for SMEs and academics through the IMI funded European Lead Factory. Phil’s postgraduate studies were carried out at the University of Manchester and Imperial College. Phil was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2005, he chaired the Medicinal Chemistry interest group of the Royal Society of Chemistry for 8 years, chaired the organising committee of the European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry – International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC-ISMC) in 2016 and sat on the Executive Committee of the EFMC for four years. He is a co-author on over 70 scientific papers and patents.

Chief Scientific Advisor

Dr Phil Jones

Phil has over 30 years medicinal chemistry and drug discovery experience from Roche, Organon, Schering-Plough, Merck and the University of Dundee including senior roles as Executive Director and Acting Site Head. He was a member of the Research Leadership Council at Schering-Plough. Numerous clinical candidates resulted from groups for which he was responsible. These span a broad range of target families and therapeutic areas. He has led the European Screening Centre team at Biocity Scotland, Newhouse for the past 5 years and this group plays a key role in delivering validated hit series for SMEs and academics through the IMI funded European Lead Factory. Phil’s postgraduate studies were carried out at the University of Manchester and Imperial College. Phil was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2005, he chaired the Medicinal Chemistry interest group of the Royal Society of Chemistry for 8 years, chaired the organising committee of the European Federation of Medicinal Chemistry – International Symposium on Medicinal Chemistry (EFMC-ISMC) in 2016 and sat on the Executive Committee of the EFMC for four years. He is a co-author on over 70 scientific papers and patents.

Director of Biosciences

Dr Stuart McElroy

With over 15 years working in drug discovery Stuart has extensive experience of developing and trouble-shooting novel screening assays, designing screening cascades, compound screening, hit validation and supporting hit to lead and lead optimisation programs. Throughout the 5 years of the European Lead Factory project he held the position of Head of Biology at the European Screening Centre (ESC), leading a team of bioscientists in prosecuting and triaging the output of over 90 high throughput screens across all major target classes and disease indications. Prior to this Stuart helped establish the Dundee Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) where he spent 7 years as a project and then team leader working across a wide array of novel drug targets and assays. He also had a leading operational role in DDU-Industry partnerships with both large pharma and SMEs.

Director of Biosciences

Dr Stuart McElroy

With over 15 years working in drug discovery Stuart has extensive experience of developing and trouble-shooting novel screening assays, designing screening cascades, compound screening, hit validation and supporting hit to lead and lead optimisation programs. Throughout the 5 years of the European Lead Factory project he held the position of Head of Biology at the European Screening Centre (ESC), leading a team of bioscientists in prosecuting and triaging the output of over 90 high throughput screens across all major target classes and disease indications. Prior to this Stuart helped establish the Dundee Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) where he spent 7 years as a project and then team leader working across a wide array of novel drug targets and assays. He also had a leading operational role in DDU-Industry partnerships with both large pharma and SMEs.

Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder

Dr Sylviane Boucharens

Sylviane has more than 20 years’ experience in scientific research and drug discovery environment. Sylviane has a track record in building and leading outstanding and productive teams into seamless successful enterprises in start-up and medium and large pharma environment. Prior to BioAscent Sylviane was Head of Global Compound repository and in-vitro Screening (Merck Sharp & Dohme, Newhouse Scotland). She was also responsible for managing a portfolio of early Drug Discovery projects in Cardiovascular from Target Identification and validation to Lead Optimisation. Sylviane attained her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France, followed by post-doctoral positions at the INSERM U366 Laboratory, France and University of Manchester, UK under the Wellcome Trust International Fellowship.

Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder

Dr Sylviane Boucharens

Sylviane has more than 20 years’ experience in scientific research and drug discovery environment. Sylviane has a track record in building and leading outstanding and productive teams into seamless successful enterprises in start-up and medium and large pharma environment. Prior to BioAscent Sylviane was Head of Global Compound repository and in-vitro Screening (Merck Sharp & Dohme, Newhouse Scotland). She was also responsible for managing a portfolio of early Drug Discovery projects in Cardiovascular from Target Identification and validation to Lead Optimisation. Sylviane attained her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France, followed by post-doctoral positions at the INSERM U366 Laboratory, France and University of Manchester, UK under the Wellcome Trust International Fellowship.

Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder

Dr Sylviane Boucharens

Sylviane has more than 20 years’ experience in scientific research and drug discovery environment. Sylviane has a track record in building and leading outstanding and productive teams into seamless successful enterprises in start-up and medium and large pharma environment. Prior to BioAscent Sylviane was Head of Global Compound repository and in-vitro Screening (Merck Sharp & Dohme, Newhouse Scotland). She was also responsible for managing a portfolio of early Drug Discovery projects in Cardiovascular from Target Identification and validation to Lead Optimisation. Sylviane attained her PhD in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France, followed by post-doctoral positions at the INSERM U366 Laboratory, France and University of Manchester, UK under the Wellcome Trust International Fellowship.

Ian McDonald

Ian is a Chartered Accountant and an experienced Finance Director/Chief Financial Officer with a successful track record gained in SMEs and PLCs in the manufacturing and customer service industries - particularly within life sciences, pharmaceuticals and FMCG.  

Ian has successful record of achievement as a CFO within Private Equity backed businesses with credibility gained from developing positive and effective relationships with stakeholders, and successful participation in exits with a proven track record in securing funding for growth from both public sector finance providers as well as institutional finance providers. 

Ian’s career is varied having worked primarily in the UK but with extensive overseas travel. As well as heading up a number of large finance teams Ian’s experience extends to successfully evaluating  and commercially shaping high value projects including worldwide ERP system implementations as well as mergers and acquisition experience.

Chief Executive Officer

Paul Smith

An experienced Senior Executive with both General Management and Business Development experience in the pharmaceutical/CRO arena. Paul has an understanding of the drug development process from discovery to clinical research gained through more than 29 years in the CRO/pharmaceutical sector. A strategic thinker and management professional with experience gained in both small and large companies and with recent start-up experience including leading  funding discussions with VCs and other corporate finance groups. Paul recently turned around and sold CXR Biosciences to Concept Lifesciences in late 2015. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, 2013.

Chief Executive Officer

Paul Smith

An experienced Senior Executive with both General Management and Business Development experience in the pharmaceutical/CRO arena. Paul has an understanding of the drug development process from discovery to clinical research gained through more than 29 years in the CRO/pharmaceutical sector. A strategic thinker and management professional with experience gained in both small and large companies and with recent start-up experience including leading  funding discussions with VCs and other corporate finance groups. Paul recently turned around and sold CXR Biosciences to Concept Lifesciences in late 2015. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, 2013.