Meet the team
Dr Jelena Aleksic
Jelena is a geneticist and serial entrepreneur, passionate about the potential of biotechnology to improve patients’ lives. She brings significant commercial and business development experience and is leading PharmEnable’s business efforts. She was the founder and CEO of GeneAdviser, an online marketplace for clinical genetic tests (now owned by the UK NHS). She also founded a life science and business strategy consultancy, SparkBio Ltd. She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge in Genomics and Computational Biology and has an academic background in genome regulation and rare diseases.
Dr Marta Arimont
As a computational chemist, Marta is responsible for PharmEnable’s drug discovery computational pipeline. She brings expertise and experience in ligand-based and structure-based methods, as well as in the application of ML/AI techniques for drug design and discovery. She has eight years of research experience in computer-aided drug design and structural biology. Marta has completed a PhD at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam focusing on in silico drug discovery.
Dr Andreas Bender
Andreas is a life science data analyst who is committed to developing new methods in the field (using AI/ML) and their application, primarily related to chemical biology, drug discovery and in silico toxicology. He is an Associate Director of Computational ADME and Safety within Clinical Pharmacology and Safety Science at AstraZeneca Cambridge, as well as a Reader in Molecular Informatics at University of Cambridge, with a successful history of spin-outs. He completed a Ph.D. in Cheminformatics at the University of Cambridge, followed by a postdoctoral stay with Novartis in Cambridge/MA.
Dr Tom Blackburn
Tom has spent over 45 years in the biotech and pharmaceutical industry with leading roles from early drug discovery to big pharma and biotech across several therapeutic areas. An internationally recognised speaker on drug discovery and biotech start-up companies, Tom has worked as a C-Level executive, company secretary and VP/director of various therapeutic projects and portfolio management organisations. His extensive experience includes venture capital, investment, strategic business development plans and due diligence for in-and out-licensing drugs for biotech and pharma. A President Emeritus and Honorary Fellow of the British Pharmacological Society, he holds a PhD, DSc from Manchester University and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology (FRSB).
Dr Keith Blundy
Keith joins PharmEnable as the Investor Director from Cambridge Enterprise. He has experience in drug discovery, strategy and licensing as well as extensive venture capital fund raising experience gained as CEO of both Cancer Research Technology (CRT – CRUK’s world leading cancer technology commercialisation company) and a pioneering biotech start-up (Storm Therapeutics Ltd). He was formerly a director of KuDOS Pharmaceuticals Ltd, Mission Therapeutics, Cancer Therapeutics Pty and Inivata Ltd. Keith has a BSc and PhD in genetics and an MBA from the London Business School.
Dr Avene Colgan
Avene is a synthetic chemist with extensive experience in developing novel and efficient chemical methods using catalysis to access stereochemically complex molecules. She holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry and a B.Sc. in Medicinal Chemistry and Chemical Biology from University College Dublin. Her Ph.D. included a Marie Skłodowska-Curie funded industrial placement at CURIA in Spain, as part of 3D-Net – a European-wide consortium of industry and academic partners. She joined PharmEnable following her postdoc at the University of Cambridge.
Dr Ian Collins
Ian Collins is a drug discovery project leader with more than thirty years’ research experience and a track record of delivering leads and candidates in oncology and CNS disease. Following a PhD at Cambridge University and an early medicinal chemistry career at The Neuroscience Research Centre of Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd., he moved to establish a team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, becoming Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Head of Chemistry. He was a Scientific Co-founder of the protein degrader company Monte Rosa Therapeutics Inc., and since 2022 has pursued his career as an independent scientific consultant.
As a Cheminformatician, Peter is developing tools and systems to enhance PharmEnable’s platform to enable the rapid exploration of synthetically accessible chemical space. He brings expertise and experience of in silico drug discovery and scientific software development. Peter is completing his Ph.D in Computational Chemistry at the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre (CCDC) in partnership with the University of Cambridge where he is exploring the application of fragment hotspot detection methods to small molecule library design.
Dr James Dale
James has over 18 years experience in drug discovery, with expertise in synthetic and medicinal chemistry. At PharmEnable, he is leading the drug discovery and pipeline strategy, focusing on candidate progression to develop novel therapeutics. In his previous roles at Nanna Therapeutics, Benevolent AI and Novartis, James was responsible for leading teams to successfully generate pipelines of novel medicines. He completed his Ph.D in synthetic organic chemistry at Cardiff University.
Dr Jane Dancer
A highly experienced CBO, Jane brings a wealth of knowledge about business development and driving company growth. As the PharmEnable company Chair, she has an active role in advising on business strategy and governance processes. Her past roles include Chief Business Officer at F-star, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company. Prior to this, she was Vice President of Business Development at Cellzome Ltd and Director of Business Development at Cambridge AntibodyTechnology, later acquired by AstraZeneca. She holds an MA and Ph.D. in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from The Cambridge Judge Business School.
Lenny Dang is an independent consultant on drug discovery and early clinical development. Until recently, he served as Vice President, Head of Research and Translational Biology at Agios Pharmaceuticals, where he is the inventor who led the translational development of the FDA-approved PYRUKYND to treat rare hemolytic anemias. He also led the breakthrough discovery of the mechanism of mutant IDH in cancers, which led to the discovery and marketing approval of IDHIFA, TIBSOVO, as well as vorasidenib (under FDA/EMA review). Prior to joining Agios, he was a senior research biochemist at Millennium Pharmaceuticals and at ProScript, with a discovery focus on targeting signaling and protein degradation pathways to treat hematological cancers. He is a graduate of Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts with a degree in Physics.
Dr James Donald
James has extensive experience in organic chemistry centred around the synthesis of 3-D small molecules, often at the academic/industrial interface. At PharmEnable he is working to enrich virtual chemical space with synthetically tractable diversity generating methodologies. James has held postdoctoral positions in both the UK (University of Oxford and the University of York) and USA (University of Texas at Austin and Princeton University) and completed his PhD in organic chemistry at the University of York.
David is an Oxford-based life sciences angel investor, with a passion for working with early-stage companies to realise an ambitious idea and attract investment capital for growth. He has over 20 years’ experience in asset management globally and across a range of asset classes. Since 2016, David has been focused on early-stage investing, managing the Arrowfield Capital syndicate.
As a PharmEnable NED, Gaynor brings significant experience in business development across both the private and public sectors. Her previous work has spanned across biologics and small molecules, medicines, diagnostics and devices, in-licensing, out-licensing, company acquisition, and sale. Gaynor was previously VP of Business Development at AstraZeneca where her UK and US teams were responsible for identifying, evaluating, and negotiating opportunities across different disease fields. Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Gaynor was the VP of Business Development at Cambridge Antibody Technology (CAT). She holds an MBA from the University of Manchester.
Tracey has over 25 years’ experience providing PA support to senior management and has worked in the property sector for the majority of the last 20 years. Prior to that she worked in the pharmaceutical industry. At PharmEnable she liaises directly with the management team and manages their diaries and travel arrangements as well as supporting the wider team with a variety of administrative tasks. Tracey works closely with the Operations Manager to ensure the smooth day to day running of the business.
Dr Kyla Grimshaw
Kyla has over 20 years’ experience in the drug discovery and biotech industry. Her specialism is in cancer biology, where she has been involved in programs spanning early target identification through to leading new drugs into the clinic. She brings a wealth of experience to PharmEnable, having held positions at Sentinel Oncology, Horizon Discovery, Astex Therapeutics and Millennium Therapeutics. She completed her PhD in Pharmacology at the University of Cambridge.
Dr Thomas Hogberg
Thomas has over 45 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry with leading roles at AstraZeneca, ALK-Abelló, 7TM Pharma, LEO Pharma and Mind the Byte. During his career, Thomas has headed various departments and led collaborations with other companies across several therapeutic areas, from early drug discovery to marketed products. His extensive experience includes business development as well as due diligence during in- and out-licensing. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Thomas holds a PhD in organic chemistry and became Associate Professor at the Royal Institute of Technology in 1985. His scientific work includes over 110 published papers and book chapters, and he is co-inventor on over 50 patent applications.
Helen is a qualified certified accountant with over 25 years post qualification experience in a number of finance roles in various industry sectors. More recently she has been working back in practice and going forward will be responsible for all aspects of company finances.
Dr Jessica Iegre
Jessica is a chemical biologist with extensive experience in drug discovery and in managing research activities and projects. Her role at PharmEnable includes project management of co-discovery alliances and identifying and supporting the in-house drug discovery programmes by negotiating agreements with external providers and collaborators. Jessica joined PharmEnable from the University of Cambridge where she worked as a research lab manager and postdoctoral researcher whilst leading the commercialisation efforts of research ideas within the research group. She completed her PhD from the University of Cambridge and had worked as a scientist at AstraZeneca before that.
Dr Sarah Kidd
Sarah is a medicinal chemist with wide experience in diversity-generating methodologies, as well as in the identification and optimization of novel small molecules for drug discovery. Sarah joined PharmEnable from the University of Leeds where she worked as a postdoctoral researcher developing novel inhibitors of an RNA helicase. She undertook a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Cambridge which was funded by AstraZeneca and involved collaborative projects with Diamond Light Source and the Structural Genomics Consortium.
Dr Natalia Mateu
Natalia is an organic and medicinal chemist leading the development of the PharmEnable scientific portfolio. Her strong chemistry background, with a particular focus on diversity generating methodologies, has shaped the scientific methods that form the foundation of PharmEnable’s unique offering. She brings over 14 years or organic and medicinal chemistry research within the pharmaceutical sector and academia, from the University of Cambridge and Janssen/J&J. She has a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Valencia.
Peter joins PharmEnable as the board appointee of the non-Cambridge Enterprise seed round investors. He brings significant expertise in venture capital investment, finance, and governance, having been involved with over 30 start-up and early-stage life science businesses – with a majority of those at board level. Peter has focused principally on the drug discovery and development sector, covering a wide variety of therapeutic areas. Formerly a co-founder and General Partner with SV Health Investors, he is currently a life sciences consultant with Martlet Capital.
Dr Dragana Mitic Potkrajac
Dragana has extensive experience in managing research activities and projects, market analysis and competitive intelligence, and scientific knowledge extraction and data integration. Her role at PharmEnable focuses on boosting the company’s business development efforts. She has over 10 years of experience working in biotechnology, including at Cambridge Cell Networks and Metisox Ltd, collaborating on projects with academics and industrial partners, in the field of toxicology across a range of different diseases. She completed a PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Düsseldorf.
Dr Carme Mont
Carme has extensive experience in science communications, branding and marketing within the life sciences industry. As a consultant, she leads PharmEnable’s communications and outreach strategies. Carme holds a Neuroscience MSc and PhD from Autonomous University of Barcelona and spent over four years at University of Oxford as an academic visitor. Prior to consulting, she was a Science Liaison Coordinator at MedImmune/AstraZeneca and an Account Director at AS&K.
Jeff is President of MP Healthcare Venture Management (MPH), a Boston-based biotech venture capital firm affiliated with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation. He has been working in the biotech sector for 25 years, both as an investor and in operating roles at Millennium Therapeutics and Scriptgen. Jeff has a DPhil in Pathology from Oxford, an MBA from MIT, postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School, and was a participant in the Kauffman Fellows VC program.
Ruth brings 25 plus years of HR experience to the PharmEnable business. Her experience spans a variety of sectors and she has spent the past 5 years supporting growing businesses to achieve their strategic and operational goals. She is an EMCC qualified coach and an Insights Practitioner, both of which approaches run throughout her more generalist HR work.
Dr Hannah Sore
A medicinal chemist by training, Hannah is recognised for championing innovative methods for discovering much needed new drugs. She brings over 20 years of research expertise within the life sciences and drug discovery sector at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Astex Therapeutics and at the University of Cambridge, including 10 years consulting and business experience across healthcare sectors at Frost & Sullivan and HFS Scientific Ltd. She completed her PhD at the University of Cambridge in Organic Chemistry and has authored over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles and is an inventor on 13 patents.
Prof David Spring
Dave Spring is a world-leading expert with decades of experience in methodologies for diversity-oriented synthesis, leading a large and active academic research group in this space. He is a Professor at the University of Cambridge within the Chemistry Department and a Fellow of Trinity College. His research interests originate from a desire to understand and exploit biological systems using organic synthesis. He holds a DPhil from the University of Oxford for work on the biosynthesis of manzamine alkaloids under the supervision of Sir Jack Baldwin. He also worked at Harvard University with Stuart Schreiber before joining the faculty at Cambridge.
Dr Ian Tomlinson
Ian brings over 25 years of experience in the life sciences sector from academic research to biotech startup to big pharma. He is Chairman of the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst, UK’s first open innovation biomedical campus, Chairman of the Investment Committee for Apollo Therapeutics and Chairman of Start Codon, the Cambridge-based life sciences accelerator. Ian co-founded Domantis Ltd with Sir Gregory Winter (acquired by GSK). He then served as SVP, Head of Worldwide Business Development and Head of Biopharm R&D at GSK. Ian holds a PhD from Cambridge University, and spent 11 years at the MRC LMB working on antibody technologies.
Dr David Vidal
David is a chemist by background, with over a decade of experience in developing methods for computational drug discovery. At PharmEnable, he is leading the technology development, focusing on implementing innovative modelling techniques and algorithms as part of our drug discovery platform. In his previous role at Mind the Byte, he led the R&D department; a multidisciplinary team of scientists and software engineers developing new modelling technologies for in silico drug discovery. He completed his Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry at the University of Barcelona.
Dr Ignacio Viciano
As a computational chemist, Ignacio is responsible for the computer-aided design of novel molecules within PharmEnable’s drug discovery projects. He brings substantial experience in molecular modelling and in silico drug discovery spanning both academia and industry. Before joining PharmEnable, he led the computational arm of drug discovery projects within a Mechanobiology-focused research group at the Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC). Previously, Ignacio also worked as a scientific consultant at Mind the Byte, a company specialising in computational drug design. He earned his PhD in Theoretical Chemistry and Computational Modelling from the University Jaume I, participating in an inter-university doctorate programme involving 13 universities.
A Cambridge story
Our story emerges out of the research and the collaborative ecosystem that is typical of Cambridge University. Cambridge brings together scientific expertise and commercial experience, to produce innovations with global impact.
In particular, our team was brought together and our early scientific efforts were founded on the principles of chemical diversity coming out of Prof David Spring’s lab.