A prestigious Chair position will enable Imperial’s Professor Ed Tate to make further advances in chemical biology and drug discovery.
Global biopharma GSK’s legacy company, Glaxo, first founded the Chair with a £1m endowment to the Department of Chemistry at Imperial in 1992, with the establishment of Professor Tony Barrett as the Glaxo Professor of Organic Chemistry.
The new Chair in Chemical Biology continues this legacy, supporting Professor Tate ’s world-leading work in this field at the Department of Chemistry and the Francis Crick Institute. The funding which the endowment provides will be used to foster new talent, enable new research directions, and strengthen industry relationships.
The GSK Chair will supercharge world-leading chemical biology research in the Department of Chemistry
Professor Ed Tate
Professor Tate’s group invents new ways to explore and understand biology through inventing novel chemical tools. By creating specifically designed functional molecules, the researchers aim to ask new questions about living systems, and ultimately manipulate them - an approach that can uncover new ways to cure disease.
The work includes creating chemical tags that can monitor how diseases develop and understand how resistance to older drugs emerges, and how these drugs could be redesigned to overcome resistance. The team also tackles diseases, for example by targeting a protein in human cells that viruses like the common cold use to invade and developing several small molecules to treat everything from antibiotic-resistant infections to treatment-resistant cancers.
The latter work led to Professor Tate and Dr Robert Solari co-founding a spinout, Myricx Pharma , to develop drugs that could offer a safer and more effective way to treat certain drug-resistant cancers.
The next wave of innovation
The appointment of Professor Tate to this new Chair will allow him to expand key areas of research as well as explore new ’blue-sky’ projects in unexplored areas. He is also keen to explore greater automation in the field of chemical biology and drug discovery, thus freeing up researchers’ time.
His vision for the role includes creating more opportunities for undergraduate student projects and summer schools, as well as helping to recruit the best researchers internationally to the Department of Chemistry’s Molecular Sciences Research Hub at White City.
He also wants to grow the connections between his group and GSK, with whom he already has had several collaborations. This will involve a variety of exchanges and partnerships, while allowing him to continue to explore links with other industrial partners from biotech to pharma.
Professor Tate said: "I am very grateful to Imperial and GSK for this appointment, which above all recognises the contributions and achievements of the fantastic early career scientists in our group at Imperial and at the Francis Crick Institute.
"We have entered an incredibly exciting new era of chemical biology and drug discovery, heralded by an explosion of new small molecule therapeutic concepts and opportunities, and enabled by game-changing advances in proteomics, machine learning and gene editing.
"The GSK Chair will supercharge world-leading chemical biology research in the Department of Chemistry and nurture the next generation of multidisciplinary scientists prepared to drive the next wave of innovation in both academia and industry."
Passion for the field
Tony Wood, President and Chief Scientific Officer at GSK said: "I’ve personally known Ed for many years and am impressed by his commitment to and passion for the field. It’s so important to continue to give innovation room to thrive, and one key way of doing that is through these Chairs and collaborations. Chemical biology is core to our approach to drug discovery and development and paired with our expertise in genetics, genomics and advanced technologies like AI/ML will help us in our ambition to get ahead of disease together."
Professor Oscar Ces, Head of the Department of Chemistry, said: "We are delighted to have appointed Professor Tate to this new Chair in partnership with GSK. He is a world leader in chemical biology and a scientist who dedicates himself to enabling the research and careers of all those around him. The Chair will enhance the fundamental discoveries in his group along with their translation as well as enabling him to forge exciting collaborations with GSK."
Professor Tate is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC) and the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB), a Satellite Group Leader at the Francis Crick Institute , and a Director of the Imperial Centre for Drug Discovery Science. He was awarded the 2012 Wain Medal Lecture and Prize and the 2013 RSC/MedImmune Protein and Peptide Science Award in recognition of his research in chemical biology.
He also received the 2013 President and Rector’s Award for Excellence in Research Supervision , the 2014 Norman Heatley Award in Chemical Biology, a 2015 CRUK Programme Foundation Award , the 2019 Sir David Cooksey Translation Prize , and the 2020 RSC Corday-Morgan Prize. He sits on the Advisory Boards of a number of international research institutes and biopharma companies.