Leading international cancer drug discovery expert Dr Donald Ogilvie has been appointed as a key advisor to the Queensland Emory Drug Discovery Initiative (QEDDI) at The University of Queensland.

QEDDI was formed by UniQuest, the commercialisation company of UQ, to translate UQ biology into drug candidates for commercialisation.

UniQuest CEO Dr Dean Moss said QEDDI was the nation’s first university-based small molecule drug discovery facility integrated within a commercialisation company, designed to accelerate the development of new drugs from top academic research.

He said Dr Ogilvie’s appointment to the advisory committee would ensure QEDDI’s team of industry-experienced biologists and medicinal chemists had access to expert knowledge in the area of drug discovery and development.

“Dr Ogilvie brings a lifetime of industry and academic experience and leadership in cancer drug discovery and development to QEDDI,” he said.

“He has served as a scientific consultant providing expert advice on drug discovery to universities, the pharmaceutical industry and to venture capitalists.

“During his more than 20-year career with international pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, he led the discovery of 10 novel cancer drug candidates – several of which progressed to Phase II and Phase III clinical trials.

“One of the compounds has received regulatory approval in the Unites States and Europe.”

Dr Ogilvie obtained a Masters of Biochemistry at the University of Oxford in 1980 before commencing his career at the John Radcliffe Hospital for eight years, exploring the role of proteases in breast cancer.

He completed his PhD in connective tissue disorders before entering the field of cancer drug discovery and early clinical development, joining ICI (which subsequently became Zeneca and then Astra Zeneca) in 1988.

Dr Ogilvie subsequently established the Drug Discovery Unit at the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Manchester Institute at The University of Manchester, overseeing the successful licencing of three separate projects to industry partners.

Dr Ogilvie said he was delighted to join the advisory committee and support the talented drug discovery group at QEDDI.

“Having led drug discovery teams in both industrial and academic contexts, I am particularly acquainted with the challenges and opportunities faced by QEDDI,” he said.

Dr Moss said Dr Ogilvie would join a distinguished panel of industry leaders on the QEDDI advisory committee, including antiviral drug experts Professor Dennis Liotta from Emory University and Dr George Painter, previously of GSK and Triangle Pharmaceuticals; former Head of Medicinal Chemistry at Novartis UK, Professor Brian Cox; former Global Head of Musculoskeletal Disease Therapeutic Area, Head of Immunology, Inflammation and Respiratory Research and Head of Preclinical Research in Switzerland and the UK at Novartis, Dr Brian Richardson; and international drug-discovery leader and former Chief Scientific Officer at Genkyotex, Dr Jeanette Wood.

“This extraordinary team have provided fantastic advice to QEDDI as it targets some of the world’s most challenging diseases, such as cancer, inflammatory disorders and neurodegenerative disorders,” Dr Moss said.

“We are extremely pleased to have Dr Ogilvie join QEDDI in an advisory role and look forward to his positive impact on our hardworking team.”

QEDDI is supported by the Queensland Government’s Advance Queensland initiative, UQ and UniQuest

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