Team

Chris Keightley

(Chief Executive Officer)

Dr Keightley has more than 30 years senior management experience in the life sciences, and holds an MA in Physiology and a PhD in biochemistry, both from Cambridge University. Formerly he was Life Sciences Director at Cambridge Research and Innovation Ltd (CRIL), one of the earliest high tech investment funds, MD of Cambridge Research BioVentures Ltd LLC, a life science investor, and founder and CEO of IQ Bio Ltd which was acquired by Novo Nordisk.

He has also held numerous Non-Executive directorships in drug discovery and diagnostic companies, and was Chairman of Lumora Ltd (molecular diagnostics) for 8 years and a director of Spirogen Ltd (DNA-interactive pharmaceuticals) for 11 years. He has extensive experience of biomedical product development, and has been active in formulating business plans and raising venture finance for numerous early stage biomedical companies, guiding business development and overseeing the negotiation of substantial collaborative development programmes, partnerships and patent licensing deals with global corporations.

David Thurston

(Scientific Co-founder, Chief Scientific Officer)

Professor Thurston has a BSc (Hons) in pharmacy, a MSc in personalized medicine, and a PhD in synthetic medicinal chemistry, and has worked at six schools of pharmacy (two in the USA, and four in the UK). He is presently Professor of Drug Discovery in the Institute of Pharmaceutical Science at King’s College London.

In 2000 he co-founded, and acted as CSO for, the oncology biotech company Spirogen Ltd which was acquired by AstraZeneca/Medimmune in 2013. His research team discovered the first-in-class DNA sequence-selective C8/C8’-linked PBD dimer SJG-136, which is now in Phase II clinical trials in ovarian cancer and leukaemia. PBD dimers have since become important payloads for use in Antibody-Drug Conjugates (ADCs), and over five ADCs are now in clinical trials through licensing from Spirogen Ltd and its successor to various pharmaceutical companies (e.g., SGN-CD33A and SGN-CD70A in Acute Myelogenous Leukemia with Seattle Genetics Inc).

Professor Thurston is also a scientific co-founder, and Chief Scientific Advisor for, Transcriptogen Ltd, a company founded in 2013 to exploit novel transcription factor inhibition technology. He has published widely in the scientific literature, and is presently Editor-in-Chief of the “Drug Discovery” book series of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) of Great Britain.

Khondaker Miraz Rahman

(Scientific Co-founder, Chemistry & Biology Consultant)

Dr Rahman, initially trained as a pharmacist, completed PhD studies in synthetic medicinal chemistry at the UCL School of Pharmacy, followed by three years as a Cancer Research UK (CRUK) postdoctoral fellow in the same institute. Prior to his PhD, Dr Rahman worked for three years as a research and development pharmacist at (the then) SK&F Pharmaceuticals Limited, and also held a number of academic positions at Universities including Asia Pacific and Dhaka University.

He is currently a Senior Lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry at King’s College London, and his research interests focus on the application of synthetic medicinal chemistry and chemical biology techniques to the design, synthesis and evaluation of novel anticancer and antibacterial agents, along with studies to understand their molecular and cellular mechanisms of action.

Dr Rahman has extensive research experience in the discovery of DNA-interactive molecules (e.g., the PBD-based transcription factor inhibitor KMR-28-39). He is also a scientific co-founder of Transcriptogen Ltd, a company founded in 2013 to exploit novel transcription factor inhibition technology.

Paul Jackson

(Scientific Co-founder, Computational Chemist and Project Manager)

Dr Jackson holds an undergraduate degree in the pharmaceutical sciences (LJMU), an MSc in Bioinformatics (University of Liverpool) and a PhD in Computational Drug Discovery (King’s College London). He has extensive experience in in silico methods, including structure-, ligand- and fragment-based drug design. He has also been involved in the development of QSAR, lead optimization and molecular docking techniques.

Both his PhD and post-doctoral research have involved the development of novel computational chemistry methods (e.g., molecular dynamics simulation techniques) for the design and evaluation of ADC payloads, which has contributed to Femtogenix’s novel payload discovery platform. Dr Jackson also provided the modelling support for the discovery of the novel NF-κB inhibitor TSG-1301 (KMR-28-39) which is presently in development with Transcriptogen Ltd, a company which he also co-founded in 2013.

He has commercial, project management and consulting experience through previous positions both in Ireland and the UK.