Andy Wilson

Andy Wilson, is the Principal Investigator leading the EPSRC Programme Grant. He is a recognised leader in Supramolecular Chemical Biology. He joined The University of Leeds in 2004 and was promoted to Professor in 2012. Andy has been recognised internationally by the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry Young Academic Scheme (2012), through the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Bob Hay Lectureship (2012) and the RSC Norman Heatley award (2016). Andy research focuses on using synthetic molecules to understand and control molecular recognition and self-assembly. His group’s multidisciplinary approach is applied to problems in Chemical Biology and Materials Science with a strong emphasis on inhibition of protein-protein interactions. Andy is a Deputy Director of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology and leads “PPI-Net”, an RCUK-initiated academic/ industry network that defined an integrated PPI research agenda for the UK.

Adam NelsonAdam Nelson

Adam was appointed as a Lecturer in Organic Chemistry at the University of Leeds in 1998. He was promoted to Professor of Chemical Biology in 2005. His research has been recognised with the award of the RSC Meldola medal (2001), Pfizer Academic award (2002), AstraZeneca award (2005), RSC Corday-Morgan medal (2007), and most recently an EPSRC Established Career Fellowship. Adam has developed synthetic approaches for systematic exploration of chemical space that will be exploited during this project.

Dek WoolfsonDek Woolfson

Dek is a Professor in Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of Bristol. He completed is undergraduate degree and PhD at Oxford and Cambridge Universities, respectively. Dek’s research is at the interface between chemistry and biology, applying chemical methods and principles to understand biological phenomena. His group is interested in the challenge of rational protein design, and how this can be developed for synthetic biology. He places particular emphasis on making completely new protein structures and peptide-based biomaterials for applications in cell biology and medicine. Dek’s research has been recognised through the award of the Medimmune Protein and Peptide Science Award of the Royal Society of Chemistry (first recipient, 2011), a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2014) and RSC interdisciplinary prize (2016). Dek is Director of BrisSynBio, a £13.6M BBSRC/EPSRC-funded Synthetic Biology Research Centre.


Richard SessionsRichard Sessions

Richard is a Senior Research Fellow in Biochemistry at the University of Bristol, where he has provided molecular modelling support and teaching for experimental scientists over the last 26 years. He is committed to the use of molecular modelling as a method of generating complex hypotheses to plan and interpret experiments. He is interested in methods development, contributing to molecular dynamics analysis, protein folding, molecular docking and the application of new computational solutions to such problems. He has received grant support from many funding bodies, including the BBSRC, EPSRC, Wellcome Trust, Royal Society, and charities including the Breast Cancer Campaign, Alzheimer’s Research Trust and the British Heart Foundation.

Thomas EdwardsThomas Edwards (Ed)

Tom Edwards is an Associate Professor Biochemistry in the Faculty of Biological Sciences at Leeds University and a Deputy Director of the Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology. He directs an interdisciplinary research group using all high resolution structural techniques to investigate biological problems such as PPIs in apoptosis, RNA binding proteins in development and disease, molecular motors and RNA viruses. He will use structural biology to assess inhibitors of PPIs generated during this project.


Debbie Shoemark

Debbie attained her BSc in Biochemistry and PhD in enzymology at Bristol University. Several postdocs in protein crystallography provided the foundation for a move into molecular modelling and drug discovery. Her successful study to seek a potential Alzheimer’s therapeutic utilizing the links with the oral microbiome has resulted in ongoing clinical trials. For the last five years Debbie has provided modelling and design services for a wide range of projects for BrisSynBio and has recently joined the POPPI team as their computational biomolecular modeller.


Sergio Celis

Sergio is a PDRA working on the development of small-molecule and peptide based inhibitors of protein-protein interactions within the PoPPI project. He obtained his PhD in 2013 at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, working under the supervision of Prof. Ortuno and Dr. Illa. His research was focused on the design and synthesis of cyclobutane-containing peptidomimetics and the study of their molecular/supramolecular properties as foldamers, organogels, and anion receptors. Before joining the Wilson group, he worked as a synthetic organic chemist in industry (Spain, UK) preparing biologically active targets for medicinal chemistry projects.

Fruzsina HoborFruzsina Hobor

Fruzsina is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow working with Dr Thomas Edwards and Prof Andy Wilson. Her research focuses on the structural and biophysical characterisation of protein-protein interaction inhibitors. Fruzsina received her PhD in Biomolecular Chemistry at CEITEC, Masaryk University in Brno in 2013. Between 2014-2017 she worked as a postdoctoral research associate at University College London with Prof Andres Ramos studying mRNA localisation and miRNA partitioning by Syncrip protein.


Matt Foulkes

Matt joined the project in June 2018 as a postdoctoral research associate, to work on developing small molecule probes for protein-protein interactions, supported by PoPPI. Matt graduated from The University of Sheffield in 2014 with a first-class Masters degree in Chemistry with Study in Industry, during which he spent a year working at GlaxoSmithKline on several ongoing drug discovery programmes. He recently completed his PhD, also at Sheffield, on exploring the chemical synthesis of novel tanshinone derivatives, and evaluation of these for anti-inflammatory effects using a zebrafish model, under the guidance of Prof. Simon Jones and Prof. Stephen Renshaw.

Aisha Jabeen Syed

Aisha joined the Wilson group in February 2019 as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in synthesis and chemical biology on the PoPPI project. She is currently working on small molecule inhibitors of protein-protein interactions. Aisha received a BSc (Hons) 1st class at The University of Birmingham in 2012. Amongst other awards, she was also the recipient of the Alfred Bader Award 2015, awarded by the University of Birmingham to the best graduating candidate wishing to continue on to research in organic chemistry. She was then awarded an Overseas Research Scholarship and a Graduate Research Scholarship by University College London (UCL) to undertake her Ph.D. in synthetic chemistry with Professor Jim Anderson on ‘The rational design, synthesis and properties of conformationally-locked infra-luciferin analogues’ which she completed in February 2019.

Emily Baker

Emily joined the POPPI team in the summer of 2019 as a Postdoctoral Researcher based in Dek Woolfson’s group at the University of Bristol, where she is working on perturbing protein-protein interactions with peptide inhibitors. She holds a first class BSc in Chemistry and obtained her PhD in the design, chemical synthesis and biophysical characterisation of highly a-helical peptides also at Bristol. Before joining POPPI, Emily’s other PostDoctoral projects have involved the design and characterisation of new protein folds, and templating peptide assemblies with DNA origami structures.


Emma Cawood

Emma joined the project in January 2020 as a Postdoctoral Research Associate, to work on peptide based inhibitors of protein-protein interactions, supported by PoPPI. Emma obtained her PhD in 2020 at the University of Leeds, working under the supervision of Prof Andy Wilson and Prof Sheena Radford FRS. Her research was focused on the development of small molecules to probe the protein-protein interactions involved in amyloid formation. She came to Leeds in 2015 after graduating from the University of St Andrews with a degree in Bimolecular Science, where she carried out project work with Prof Jim Naismith FRS.


Management Group

David AndrewsDavid Andrews

David Andrews is Associate Director, Discovery Sciences at AstraZeneca. In this role, he is accountable for many of AZ’s Discovery Chemistry project collaborations, including the development of tools and assets that foster Open Innovation ways of working. Scientifically, David’s current main interests lie in the area of Oncology, with around 60 publications and patents that span cancer and infection medicinal chemistry as well as synthetic chemistry and Open Innovation. In 2016, David returned to a full-time role in AZ’s External Sciences group following a secondment to the Royal Society of Chemistry, where he led the evaluation of the National Compound Collection pilot.


Kate LangtonKate Langton

Kate Langton is the Astbury Research and Innovation Manager at the University of Leeds. She obtained her BSc in Medicinal Chemistry and PhD in Chemistry and Biochemistry from Leeds. Before starting her role as Research and Innovation Manager she worked as Senior Scientist and then Product Manager for a company making scientific software that supports the drug development process.

Mike WaringMike Waring

Mike is a Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and the chemistry leader in the Northern Institute for Cancer Research at Newcastle University. He joined the university in 2015 having previously worked for 14 years with AstraZeneca as a medicinal chemist, where he rose to become Principal Scientist. During this time, he worked on programmes that delivered 14 candidate drugs, including the mutant EGFR inhibitor, Osimertinib. He is a recognised expert in modern optimisation techniques and physical property control, and his work has been recognised with a number of awards such as the 2010 Capps Green Zomaya memorial medal and the 2014 RSC Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Lectureship.

Philip Fallon

Dr Philip Fallon is a group leader in medicinal chemistry – responsible for leading research projects at Domainex Ltd. During 20 years’ of industrial experience, Philip has worked successfully in all stages of small-molecule drug discovery; from early hit identification through to lead optimisation. He is named inventor on several patents, and was part of the project team which ultimately developed MIV-711, a Cathepsin K inhibitor, currently in PhII clinical trials for osteoarthritis. Philip graduated from the University of Cambridge and obtained his PhD from Nottingham Univ. Prior to ten years’ experience at Domainex, Philip held research positions at BioFocus, Medivir, and Aventis and Rhone-Poulenc CropScience. During his career, Philip has gained experience in several therapeutic areas and target classes including protein-protein interactions. He has presented research at international conferences on protein-protein inhibitors such as neuropilin and lysine methyltransferases. His most recent publication, in Nature Communications 2018, entitled ”Small molecule inhibitors of RAS-effector protein interactions derived using an intracellular antibody fragment” reports achievements from a collaboration with Oxford University on the design of PP-inhibitors for the notoriously challenging target; RAS.

PhD Students

Kristina ParaschivKristina Hetherington (Kris)

Kristina successfully completed her MChem in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Leeds with a one year Industrial Placement. Following her Masters Research Project Kristina secured a Leeds Alumni Anniversary Scholarship and chose to undertake her PhD with the Wilson Group. She will be one of three PhD students working on what she considers one of the most exciting research projects




Suzanne Renwick

Suzanne is a first year PhD student funded through an EPSRC DTP studentship in collaboration with Professor Adam Nelson to carry out research aligned with the PoPPI project on development of small molecule protein-protein interaction inhibitors. Suzanne spent some time in industry after completing her Masters Degree in Chemistry with Drug Discovery at the University of Strathclyde in 2017 and is now looking forward to directing her focus into research at the University of Leeds.





Andy WilsonAmy joined the group in October 2017 as the Research Administrator for PoPPI. Amy has over ten years’ experience of research administration and support, having worked on various research projects at The University of Leeds and University College London. Amy has a BA in Archaeology and History of Art, an MA in Archaeological Illustration and a Graduate Diploma in Law.