Driving DUB drug discovery and development
Founded 13 years ago, Ubiquigent has cultivated an unrivalled track record and comprehensive range of specialist services focused on the exploitation of DUBs and the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS). As such, we are the partner chosen by many leading industry and academic organisations for their drug discovery programmes spanning the development of DUB inhibitors and modulators in the fields of protein degradation, stabilisation, and homeostasis.
Alongside the delivery of specialist services to customers, we have an internal pipeline of drug discovery programmes and are developing a strong IP portfolio encompassing DUB inhibitors, DUB-targeting Proteolysis Targeting Chimeras (PROTACs) and Deubiquitinase-Targeting Chimeras (DUBTACs), providing potential new starting points for client discovery programmes through partnerships and out-licensing agreements.
Ubiquigent benefits from high calibre backing, including from IP Group PLC and Scottish Enterprise. Based in a state-of-the-art facility located in Dundee, Scotland, we sit at the centre of highly relevant additional scientific expertise and capabilities.
Mark Treherne PhD
Chairman of the Board
Mark has over 25 years’ experience in drug discovery and development and has raised over £140 million for life science companies. He has served on the boards of fifteen private and public companies and is currently a director of Cyclofluidic, Domain Therapeutics, Talisman Therapeutics and Avilex Pharma. Previously, Mark was Chief Executive of Senexis and co-founded Cambridge Drug Discovery as Chief Executive in 1997, which he sold in 2001 to BioFocus plc, which was then subsequently acquired by Galapagos. Mark also worked at Pfizer to lead its neurodegeneration research team in the UK. Prior to that, Mark held a Senior Faculty position at the Biozentrum in Basel and has a B.Sc. in Physiology from St Andrews University (1983) and a Ph.D. in receptor neuropharmacology from the University of Cambridge (1987).
Jason Mundin MBA
Chief Executive Officer, Board Member
Jason has over 30 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. He joined Ubiquigent in 2015 as Commercial Director, becoming Managing Director in 2018 and CEO in 2021. Jason began his career as a research scientist at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), where he focused on cardiovascular disease research. He moved from GSK into the biotech sector, where he joined a team that founded Pharmagene Laboratories: a company that focused on drug discovery through the application of human-tissue-based approaches. At Pharmagene he transitioned to a commercial role, taking responsibility for business development activities in the UK, US and Japan. Following his time at Pharmagene Jason held a number of commercial positions within small and medium-sized biotech companies and prior to joining Ubiquigent headed strategic alliances for the European Bioinformatics Institute, an outstation of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). Jason gained his BSc from the University of Hertfordshire whilst at GSK and his MBA from Imperial College London.
Sheelagh Frame PhD
Chief Scientific Officer, Board Member
Sheelagh has over 25 years’ experience in oncology drug discovery and development. She joined Ubiquigent in 2018 as Head of Biology taking responsibility for the company’s operations in Dundee, and becoming CSO in 2021. Sheelagh began her career as a postdoctoral research scientist at Onyx Pharmaceuticals in California, USA. She then returned to Scotland to take up positions with Professor Sir Philip Cohen within the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy consortium at the University of Dundee, and subsequently as a translational research scientist and Program Manager at Cyclacel Limited before moving to Ubiquigent. Sheelagh gained her BSc Hons in Molecular Biology from the University of Edinburgh and her PhD in Medicine from the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, which is affiliated to the University of Glasgow.
Hozefa Amijee PhD
Head of Business Development
Hozefa has over 20 years’ scientific and commercial experience in the life sciences industry, ranging from small biotech R&D to bespoke CRO and CDMO offerings. He joined Ubiquigent in 2022 as Head of Business Development (BD). Hozefa began his career with Cambridge-based scientific roles at Senexis, Total Scientific and RxCelerate, before moving to Cellesce Ltd as Head of BD. At Cellesce, he focused on growing partnerships and strategic alliances with top biotech and pharma companies, bringing the use of better patient-centric organoid models to drug discovery and development. Hozefa completed his PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Manchester, exploring amyloid aggregation inhibitors as a therapeutic strategy for Alzheimer’s disease treatment.
Laurence is the former Managing Director and co-owner of Tocris Bioscience, a specialist life science reagent business providing bioactive chemicals, peptides and antibodies to researchers worldwide. During his time with the business Laurence set-up and ran Tocris’ wholly owned US subsidiary and had overall responsibility for Tocris’ product development, marketing, sales and distribution activities. In 2006 Laurence led a Management Buyout from the founder shareholders and subsequently oversaw the sale of Tocris to Techne Corporation in 2011. Laurence has a BSc in Chemistry from Reading University and an MBA from the University of Bath.
Ian Ratcliffe founded Stemgent – a stem cell reagent and service company – in 2008 and serves as its Executive Chairman. Stemgent acquired Asterand Plc’s Human Tissue Business in July 2012. Previously Ian was President of Upstate Biotechnology, a leading provider of cell signalling research products and services which was acquired by Serologicals, Corp. in 2004. Ian is also the Chairman of Enzymatics, a manufacturer of molecular biology reagents and a director of Global Cell Solutions, a biotech company commercialising proprietary 3D cell culture technology. Ian is a General Partner with Keswick Ventures and has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Surrey and an MBA from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia.
Professor Sir Philip Cohen FRS FRSE
Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board
Philip Cohen received his BSc (1966) and PhD (1969) from University College London and then spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle, USA with Edmond Fischer (the 1992 Nobel Laureate for Medicine or Physiology). In 1971 he returned to the UK to become a Faculty member at the University of Dundee, Scotland where he has worked ever since. Philip was a Royal Society Research Professor from 1984 to 2010, Director of the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation Unit from 1990 to 2012 and Director of the Scottish Institute for Cell Signalling (focussed on ubiquitylation research) from 2008 to 2012. Philip was the Co-Director of the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy, Europe’s largest collaboration between a basic research institution and the pharmaceutical industry from 1998 to 2012 and is Deputy Director from 2012 to 2016. The DSST is widely regarded as a model for productive interaction between industry and academia, for which it received a Queen’s Anniversary Award for Higher Education in 2006.
For the past 40 years, Philip’s research has been devoted to studying the role of protein phosphorylation in cell regulation and human disease, a process that controls almost all aspects of cell life. His contributions to this topic include working out the signalling pathway downstream of PI 3-kinase by which insulin stimulates glycogen synthesis in muscle, the classification and characterization of serine/threonine-specific protein phosphatases and the elucidation of MAP kinase cascades. Currently his laboratory is trying to unravel the signalling networks in the innate immune system that control the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and interferons during bacterial and viral infection, and in which the interplay between protein ubiquitylation and protein phosphorylation plays a critical role. According to Thomson Scientific, Philadelphia, Philip Cohen was the world’s second most cited scientist in the field of biology and biochemistry from 1992-2003, and the most cited biochemist from 1999-2009.
Professor Dario Alessi FRS FRSE
Dario Alessi was born in France, attended high school in Brussels and obtained a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Birmingham, UK in 1988. He received his PhD in 1991 for work on the synthesis and use of spin-labelled ATP analogues to study muscle contraction under the joint supervision of Ian Trayer (University of Birmingham) and David Trentham FRS (National Institute of Medical Research, Mill Hill, London). He then carried out postdoctoral research with Sir Philip Cohen FRS in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit at Dundee from 1991 to 1997, where he became fascinated by protein kinases and how they are regulated by insulin, growth factors and other extracellular signals that control almost all aspects of cell biology.
In 1998 Dario became a Programme Leader in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation Unit, and assumed the Directorship of the combined Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit in April 2012. A key focus of his current research is to understand the regulation and physiological roles of poorly understood protein kinases and regulators of the ubiquitylation system that are implicated in human disease. Dario is very keen to exploit findings emerging from his studies to develop novel treatments for disease.
Professor Ron Hay FRS FRSE
Ron Hay was born and educated in Dundee and obtained his BSc in Biochemistry at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh in 1975. He obtained his PhD in 1979 from the Medical Research Council Virology Unit in Glasgow under the supervision of Dr John Hay for studies on the replication of herpes simplex virus DNA. A Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell Cancer Fund post doctoral fellowship award led him to work in the laboratory of Dr Mel DePamphilis at Harvard Medical School, Boston where he determined the location and structure of RNA primers that initiate DNA replication at the Simian Virus 40 origin of replication. Returning to the MRC Virology Unit in 1982, he established an independent laboratory working on the initiation of adenovirus DNA replication. In 1985 he moved to the University of St. Andrews where he held Lecturer and Reader positions before taking up the Chair in Molecular Biology and becoming Deputy Director of the new Centre for Biomolecular Sciences. In 2005 he joined the Wellcome Trust Centre for Gene Regulation and Expression in the College of Life Sciences at the University of Dundee as Professor of Molecular Biology.
Ron’s research has established conjugation with the Small Ubiquitin-like Modifier (SUMO) as an important regulatory mechanism in eukaryotes. He recently uncovered a key role for SUMO and ubiquitin in mediating the therapeutic effects of arsenic for the treatment of Acute Promyelocytic Leukaemia.
Dr John Harris CChem FRSC
John Harris graduated from Exeter University in 1969. After gaining a PhD at Queen Mary College (University of London) he spent two years at Liverpool with Charles Rees FRS then joined the Wellcome Foundation, initially working with Sir John Vane’s group on the discovery of prostacyclin and novel prostanoid drugs. Later, he joined Sir James Black’s analytical pharmacology team, work which led to a number of pre-clinical candidates, culminating in the invention of the 5HT1b/d agonist, ZomigTM, the second major prescription antimigraine drug that was developed latterly by AstraZeneca as a consequence of the Glaxo acquisition of Wellcome at that time. He was appointed Head of Wellcome’s UK cardiovascular therapeutic area, during which time he became interested in the then new field of kinase inhibitors. After the acquisition of Wellcome by Glaxo, he decided to leave GW and, together with some key colleagues, he founded BioFocus, a highly successful early-stage CRO, now part of the Charles River organization. As pharmaceutical interest in kinase inhibitors took off, he initiated the development of small highly-designed focused libraries for screening, leading to many patents in the kinase area for clients and commercial success for BioFocus, and he subsequently developed the focused library concept into other fields, including anti-infectives and ion channel modulators, from which other clinical candidates, notably against malaria, have emerged. John retired from BioFocus after the successful friendly merger with Galapagos NV, who have since taken a number of BioFocus-originated compounds to the clinic. He now runs a small pharma/biotech consultancy, having worked with a diversity of clients, including several start-ups, as well as commercial pharma, UK and US universities, and institutions including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Max Planck Institute and the Wellcome Trust. His main current scientific interests are in the field of multi-targeted drugs and, on the more strategic side, the changing structure of drug research and associated business models. He has edited books on both these topics, alongside over 100 scientific papers and patents published over the years. Having consulted for many international clients, and in addition to his work on the Ubiquigent SAB, presently he is working on tuberculosis therapeutics with the University of Cape Town, he sits on the South African Medical Research Council SAB and on the Steering Group of the Wellcome Trust – funded CAMSEED project targeted at kinases involved in resistant breast cancer. He is a chartered chemist and was elected a Fellow of the RSC in 2005.
Professor Helen Walden
Helen is Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Glasgow and Director of the Institute of Molecular Cell and Systems Biology, with over 20 years’ experience in the UPS. Her team recently reported the structure of USP1 in complex with a USP1 inhibitor. The first DUB inhibitor to enter clinical development was developed by KSQ Therapeutics against this target. Helen previously worked at the MRC-Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit at the University of Dundee after establishing her own group at Cancer Research UK’s London Research Institute, now the Francis Crick Institute. She completed her postdoctoral research at St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, where she focused on the mechanisms of ubiquitination and solved the structure of the E1 enzyme for Nedd8. Helen holds a BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Bath and a PhD from the University of St Andrews, investigating the structural basis of protein hyperthermostability.
Professor John Davis
John is Chief Scientific Officer for the Centre for Medicines Discovery at the University of Oxford and Director of Business Development for the Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) Drug Discovery Alliance. He has more than 25 years of drug discovery expertise, having progressed multiple drug candidates into the clinic. John first joined the University of Oxford to set up and lead the ARUK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute and during his tenure has formed several industrial alliances. As Head of Biology at GlaxoSmithKline, John led pre-clinical pharmacology research departments prior to co-founding Convergence Therapeutics, subsequently acquired by Biogen, as well as a further three start-up companies. He received his BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Bristol and a PhD in the molecular pathology of cardiovascular disease from the University of Cambridge, with postdoctoral training at the Ludwig Institute and an EMBO fellowship at The Salk Institute.
Dr Xavier Jacq
Xavier co-founded Mission Therapeutics (Mission), where he held the positions of VP Scientific Affairs and Director of Biology. In this role, he focused on researching and exploiting the ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS) and was a key driver behind Mission’s DUB-focused strategy. Xavier then moved to Almac Discovery as VP of Biology, followed by Dunad Therapeutics, a developer of targeted protein degradation-based therapies, as Senior Vice President. Xavier is currently Chief Scientific Officer at moa Technology, an Oxford-based company investigating nature’s design for novel herbicide modes of action. With over 22 years’ industry experience, Xavier has established a proven track record in early-stage discovery and development that spans oncology, metabolism, immunology and CNS therapeutics. He holds a PhD in Biochemistry from Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg, France and completed his postdoctoral training in Cancer Biology at Colombia University, NYC, USA.
IP Group Plc. is a leading UK intellectual property commercialisation company, developing technology innovations primarily from its research intensive partner universities. The Group offers far more than traditional venture capital, providing its companies with access to business building expertise, networks, recruitment and business support.
Scottish Enterprise/Scottish Investment Bank
Scottish Enterprise is Scotland’s main economic development agency and aims to deliver a significant, lasting effect on the Scottish economy. Its role is to help identify and exploit the best opportunities for economic growth. They support ambitious Scottish companies to compete within the global marketplace and help build Scotland’s globally competitive sectors. Scottish Enterprise also work with a range of partners in the public and private sectors to attract new investment to Scotland and to help create a world-class business environment. The Scottish Investment Bank (SIB) is a division of Scottish Enterprise operating Scotland-wide in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
Medical Research Council
The Medical Research Council (MRC) is a publicly-funded organisation dedicated to improving human health. The MRC support research across the entire spectrum of medical sciences, in universities and hospitals, in our own units, centres and institutes in the UK, and in our units in Africa. The heart of the MRC’s mission is to improve human health through world-class medical research.
University of Dundee
The University of Dundee college of life sciences has more than 1000 staff and research students and external funding currently averaging £40 million per year, the College of Life Sciences is one of the largest and most productive research institutes in Europe.