In 2017, I graduated from the University of Glasgow with a first-class MSci degree in Chemistry with Medicinal Chemistry. I then went on to be selected for the highly prestigious industrial PhD programme run as a collaboration between GSK and the University of Strathclyde. Upon embarking on this research, based at GSK Stevenage, I was introduced to the field of Chemical Biology. I quickly became fascinated by mass spectrometry technology and how it could be leveraged to advance many aspects of the drug discovery pipeline. In addition, ‘reactive fragments’ were emerging as a new drug type that showed great promise in providing starting points for therapeutics.

My research focused on the development of a photoreactive fragment screening platform which aimed to enable the early identification of starting points in drug discovery programmes. This novel technology utilised mass spectrometry approaches to not only study drug-protein interactions in an isolated setting, but also within cells, a crucial advantage in the target validation phase. I graduated in 2020 and was awarded the Prof Sir David MacMillian (2021 Chemistry Nobel Laureate) Prize for the best thesis from the University of Strathclyde, and went on to join GSK as a Senior Scientist.

In my new role, I began to industrialise the technology that I developed during my PhD. This involved expanding the platform to include additional reactivities beyond photoaffinity. My role as a Senior Scientist within the Chemical Biology group was to leverage this platform to identify opportunities for therapeutics. Over the course of two years, I initiated new and exciting drug discovery efforts on >10 programmes, all of which were supported by the technology developed in the group. Due to the impact this platform had across early drug discovery, I was awarded an internal prize as a top performer within GSK in 2021; this annual award is only given to 10% of the workforce.

In order to support the experimental technology, I also developed an in silico assessment platform to enable the prioritisation of proteins of interest. This involves mining data from chemoproteomic experiments and analysis of structural information to provide a score for the protein of interest. This technology is now in the process of being expanded to assess other disease areas.

In November 2022, I was promoted to an Investigator within the Chemical Biology group. I am now accountable for the application of this technology to discover alternative starting points for novel targets / disease areas that are challenging to drug. There are multiple projects in hit-to-lead chemistry and one in late lead optimisation. In addition, I work to enhance the throughput and quality of the technology in order to support the increasing demand within my organisation.