PiR’s Senior Executives Breakfast Event with Professor Jackie Hunter

‘How can Artificial Intelligence impact the pharmaceutical drug discovery process?’ This was the debate which Professor Jackie Hunter, CEO of BenevolentBio, led at PiR’s Senior Executive Breakfast forum at the Royal Society of Chemistry in Burlington House on 14 June.

Professor Hunter inspired and provoked the delegates, CEOs and senior executives from the life science industry, to consider how AI could positively disrupt the current drug discovery model.

She reminded us that it costs c$1.5bn to bring a drug to market and that only 1-5% of these make it to market. This model has remained unchanged for decades.

A full summary of the event will appear in PharmaTimes in September 2017.

Carolyn Douthwaite, Founder & Non Executive Chair

Monday 19 June 2017

Feedback on PiR’s Event:

“I found the meeting incredibly useful and made some good inroads with contacts in the AI space. An excellent event, one of the best I’ve been to in last year.”

“Excellent format, very engaging and a good mix of attendees.”

“Good choice of subject – a new and growing area of the industry.”

“Excellent event – very interesting and topical subject, important across many disciplines.”

Team at the Royal Society of Chemistry

Carolyn Douthwaite introducing Jackie Hunter

Professor Jackie Hunter, CEO BenevolentBio

Senior Executive Breakfast Briefing: AI Transforming Pharma R&D – 14 June 2017, Central London

Senior Executive Breakfast Briefing:  AI Transforming Pharma R&D

 14 June 2017, Central London

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing the way that the life science sector conducts research, presents its findings and promotes new products and technologies.  Come and join our Speaker, Professor Jackie Hunter, at PiR’s Senior Executive Breakfast Briefing.

Professor Hunter is the CEO of BenevolentBio, which uses AI to augment the research capabilities of its drug scientists. She has over thirty years of experience in the bioscience research sector, working across academia and industry, serving on various government boards and panels in Europe and the US.

To reserve your place, please email Jayne Fergusson at jfergusson@pir-resourcing.com

PiR’s 2017 Charity: ‘Indoor Boot Sale’ success for Antibiotic Research UK

To promote PiR’s 2017 fund raising for Antibiotic Research UK, PiR was represented by Sally Hope (right), Jayne Fergusson (centre) and Nicola Williams (left) at an ‘Indoor Boot Sale’ at the Burgess Hall in St Ives, Cambridgeshire on 12 February.  We offered a good selection of quality children’s toys, books, DVD’s, costume jewellery, clothes, and anything else the team at PiR had kindly provided to recycle.

We were grateful to all those who purchased some of our items and helped us to raise money for Antibiotic Research UK.

Our aim is to take part in more boot sales throughout the year, as we are a small team we think this is the perfect way to recycle and to raise funds for a great cause.

If you have any donations you would like to make, please contact me at jfergusson@pir-resourcing.com as we have limited storage space.

Hope to see you there.

Jayne Fergusson, Project Administrator

PiR’s ‘Indoor Boot Sale’ to raise funds for Antibiotic Research UK

As part of PiR’s 2017 fund raising for Antibiotic Research UK, we are taking part in an ‘Indoor Boot Sale’ at the Burgess Hall Westwood Road, St Ives, Cambridgeshire, on Sunday 12 February.  We will be selling  good quality children’s toys, books, DVD’s, costume jewellery, clothes, and anything else the team at PiR wish to recycle.

Our aim is to take part in more boot sales throughout the year, as we are a small team we think this is the perfect way to recycle and to raise funds for a great cause.

If you have any donations you would like to make, please contact me at jfergusson@pir-resourcing.com as we have limited storage space.

Hope to see you there.

Jayne Fergusson, Project Administrator

PiR Breakfast Briefing: Personalised Medicine with Dr Darrin Disley

Darrin_Disley_170117We were delighted to host senior representatives from the life sciences community, together with the industry trade press, at our CEO Breakfast Forum, which took place at the Chesterford Research Park, Cambridge, United Kingdom today.

The speaker, Dr Darrin M Disley is a parallel entrepreneur, investor and enterprise champion who has started, grown and raised over $320m for 15 businesses and invested in over 40 others. This includes Horizon Discovery Group plc where he is CEO, a company that provides products, services and research programs to organisations involved in genomics research and the development of personalised medicines and cell and gene therapies.

In his address, Disley provided his vision of the future healthcare paradigm as the population ages. He explained how multidisciplinary science and academic-industry partnerships need to work together, using open innovation models within an entrepreneurial ecosystem that can take advantage of the current favourable R&D, tax, regulatory and investment framework.

Personalised Medicine

The challenges and opportunities facing the industry today surround the handling of big data, sustainable energy and resource creation/allocation and the delivery of affordable healthcare to an ageing population. The key to ensuring that we age healthily and remain productive, involves the move towards a ‘cradle to the grave’ healthcare paradigm. This combines early diagnosis, targeted molecular therapeutics and companion diagnostic tests that match the right drug(s) to the right patient at the right time. Gene and cell therapies would be targeted at an individual patient’s disease.

The reasons for moving towards personalised medicine, are, quite simply, the poor patient outcomes achieved for the investment made. The underlying genetic variations in a population force about two thirds of selected drugs towards attrition. In heart and psychological diseases, it is often necessary to screen at least four drugs per patient before finding one that works effectively and this leads to an estimated $150 billion annual financial loss due to Adverse Drug Reactions in the US/EU healthcare industries.

Personalised medicine is being driven by a convergence of technology to solve the efficacy and productivity deficit. Genome sequencing has reduced from $10m in 2007 to less than $1,000 today. A multi-disciplinary approach to R&D has been the key to this success: biology (nucleic polymerisation), chemistry (fluorophores, conjugation), computer science (data handling), engineering (MEMS and robotics), physics (lasers, CCD imaging) and radio astronomy (data processing). Empowered by knowledge of the genetic, environmental and behavioural contributors to disease, we are moving towards the creation of networks of patients, drugs and treatment regimens that result in the right drugs being given to the right patients at the right time – and in the right doses.

Exciting Developments in the Golden Triangle

Disley was incredibly enthusiastic about the advances being made in the golden triangle of Cambridge, London and Oxford – thanks to the collaborative efforts of commercial organisations, as well as academic and healthcare institutions. Working together, these organisations are advancing knowledge of the genetic basis of disease, drug targets and patient response and the link between genomic data, the new pharmacopoeia and an evolutionary patient diagnosis and prognosis. He believes small start-ups often have the most innovative ideas and need to be supported, even if their profiles do not fit traditional funding or government models. He said that start-ups would at times tackle more challenging projects, not just what he referred to as “low hanging fruit”.

Asked about the role of people as the industry moves towards personalised medicine. Disley was very forthright: “Finding the right people is essential. You cannot just focus on the top 20%. Most businesses fail because people are unaligned and the role of a CEO is to manage investors, people and the strategy.” He said that young people are more flexible than the previous generation, wanting the opportunity to move between academia and industry to develop their skills and ideas. He also felt that entrepreneurial ideas are essential and need to be aligned with customer needs. Disley said he found it fascinating to see how young, energetic companies are the engines behind explosive change in the market. His message was “support people with ideas, even if their ideas are not fully defined” and he talked about “patient capital” – the need to invest without expecting to turn a quick profit – which is just as important as “passion capital”.

Innovation at Horizon Group plc

Horizon co-founders Professor Alberto Bardelli (current President of the European AACR) and Dr Chris Torrance (CEO of Phoremost Pharmaceuticals) have been key contributors to the field of personalised medicine between 2008 and 2016. Their work has included sequencing the kinome, defining the mechanism of resistance of K-Ras mutant patients to EGFR target colon cancer therapies, and the establishment of the Coltheres consortium. The founding of this consortium led to the implementation of adaptive clinical trials using drug combinations in engineered cell lines and patient avatars, as well as the practical exemplification of the liquid tumour biopsy.

The company’s business is built around its proprietary translational genomics platform, GENESIS™, a suite of gene editing tools. Horizon has developed an extensive inventory of genetically-defined cell-line and associated reagent products that accurately model the disease-causing genetic anomalies found in humans. This technology can identify potential medicines targeted to patients with a specific genetic profile. The products have been likened to a ‘patient in a test tube,’ as they allow clinical outcomes to be predicted. Horizon has a customer base of over 1,600 organisations in over 50 countries, including major pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostic companies, as well as leading academic research centres. In recent times Horizon has increased its manufacturing capacity ten-fold whilst reducing COGS by the same amount. This has allowed the company to increase its product inventory from 2300 to 23000 in the past two years and rapidly scale the business.

Success with Personalised Medicine

These are all incredibly exciting innovations but Disley made the point that environmental factors and behaviour also play their part in the evolution of disease, thus we all must become engaged with our own health and treatment. The use of mobile phones and sensors will be beneficial in passive lifestyle and vital sign monitoring and in remote GP appointments, patient record sharing and surgery. This has the potential to evolve into the establishment of the e-patient, where the individual can take control of their disease with knowledge beyond that held by generalist physicians.

Asked what other challenges the industry faces, he commented that the tax and regulatory framework in the UK is “extremely good” but that there is a poor understanding by government of this dynamic research environment. This often leads to research funding being granted to ‘safer’ projects that were less likely to be truly ground breaking. He also criticised the media for misreporting developments in medical research.

To conclude, for Disley, affordability is key. He expressed also the “need for a convergence of technology” that will enable the elucidation of the genetic environment, the behavioural basis of disease and, ultimately, the implementation of a truly personalised form of medicine. He believes that incredible opportunities exist for engineers, scientists and business majors to work in a multidisciplinary way that will have an incredible impact on patients and society, whilst at the same time running a business that is profitable for all concerned

Informative Discussion

Disley’s address was thought provoking, informative and an inspired vision of the future of personalised medicine. We were delighted at the friendly and collaborative nature of the event – and it seems that our guests were too:

“A great opportunity to meet up and discuss the impact of the new biology on our research with friends and colleagues in Cambridge.”
Mark Treherne, Ubiquigent Ltd

The Nucleus at Chesterford Research Park proved an ideal location for the PIR breakfast meeting, with Darrin Disley delivering an inspiring talk on emerging world trends of importance, including more affordable and lower cost personalised medicine. The PIR team delivered on a great networking occasion too, sophisticated but not showy, welcoming the guests and ensuring the introductions. Not only serious discussions stimulated, but laughter was heard too! ” 
Hugh Ilyine, DestiNA Genomics Ltd

Wishing all our customers a successful and inspiring time exploring industry developments in 2017.

Sally Hope
CEO – PiR Ltd
17 January 2017

PiR announces Cambridge breakfast briefing with life science entrepreneur, Dr Darrin Disley of Horizon Group plc

Cambridge, 11 January 2017: PIR is delighted to announce that Dr Darrin Disley, parallel life science entrepreneur, angel investor and enterprise champion is to speak at the PiR CEO Breakfast Forum in Cambridge on Tuesday 17 January.

Disley has been involved in the start-up and growth of numerous business ventures, securing over $320 million in business financing from grant, angel, corporate, venture capital and public market sources as well as closing over $500 million of product, service, licensing and M&A deals.

As the CEO and President of Horizon Discovery Group plc, Disley led the company from a $275 thousand seed funding venture in 2008 to a $118 million IPO (2.8x oversubscribed) six years later. The funds raised by the IPO set a record for a life science company on the AIM market, with the company becoming the second largest research tools company on any market of the London Stock Exchange.

Horizon is a world-leading gene editing company that designs and engineers genetically-modified cells and then applies them in research and clinical applications that advance human health. The company supplies over 23,000 products and related research services to over 1,600 unique research organisations engaged in the elucidation of the genetic basis of disease and the development of personalised medicine. In addition to this, the company’s own R&D pipeline is focused on developing novel molecular, cell and gene therapies capable of having significant impact on the treatment of common and rare diseases.

In his address at the PiR CEO Breakfast Forum, Disley will provide his vision of the future healthcare paradigm as the population ages and will bring out the need to address this with multidisciplinary science and academic-industry partnership, working with open innovation models within an entrepreneurial ecosystem that are capable of exploiting the current favourable R&D, tax, regulatory and investment framework.

“We are delighted that Darrin Disley has been able to join our event to give us all better insight into the extraordinary developments taking place at Horizon and beyond. I am sure that delegates will find his insights into a multidisciplinary approach to targeted cancer therapies inspiring and informative,” comments Sally Hope, CEO of PiR.

About PiR

PiR is a specialist recruitment company focused exclusively on delivering the best talent to the international life science sector through executive search, interim management, talent management/mapping and innovative recruitment services. With a team that is functionally aligned, combined with life science recruitment experience of over 40 years, PiR provides a depth of expertise across key business functions at leadership and expert level. Our expertise is particularly evident across functions in high demand. These include Advanced Therapies, Medical, Regulatory, Programme Management, Market Access, Health Economics and Outcomes Research (HEOR), Pricing and Reimbursement as well as Translational Medicine. For further information, please visit www.pir-resourcing.com.

About Darrin M Disley, PhD

Darrin is a parallel entrepreneur, angel investor and enterprise champion. He has been involved in the start-up and growth of numerous business ventures, securing over $320 million business financing from grant, angel, corporate, venture capital and public market sources as well as closing over $500 million of product, service, licensing and M&A deals.

He is currently the CEO and President of Horizon Discovery Group plc, a company he led from a $275 thousand seed funding in March 2008 to a $113 million fund-raise at IPO (2.8x oversubscribed) exactly six years later. The funds raised by the IPO set a record for a life science company on the AIM market and were the second largest by any research tools company in a London listing.

In 2012, he was named Business Leader of the Year at the European Life Science Awards, in 2014 was named Biotech and Pharma Executive of the Year by Scrip and in 2015 was named UK Quoted Company Entrepreneur of the Year, Cambridge Business Person of the Year and one of the 175 Faces of Chemistry by the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Darrin supports education, entrepreneurship and mentoring programs in the UK via the Professor Christopher R Lowe Carpe Diem Enterprise Fund and has backed over 30 start-up life science, technology and social enterprises. This led to him recently being conferred with a lifetime-held Queens Award for Enterprise Promotion in the 2016 Birthday Honours List.

He is an Honorary Fellow at the Judge Business School and Enterprise Fellow at the Department of Chemical Engineering and Institute of Biotechnology both at the University of Cambridge and an advisor on science and industry to the University of Salford. His is currently Director and co-founder of Avvinity Therapeutics Ltd and GeoSpock Ltd, Chairman of Desktop Genetics Ltd, Director of Celixir Ltd and HealX Ltd, Board Member of the UK BioIndustry Association, Chairman of Trustees at Footprint Cafés CIO and serves on the advisory boards of Axol Bioscience Ltd, Biotech and Money, the Cambridge Science Centre, The Cambridge Phenomenon, GeneAdviser Ltd and Simprints.


For further information, please contact:

Zoë Buckingham, Public Relations to PiR

Tel: +44 (0)7714 837426  Email: zoe@zoebuckingham.com

PiR looks forward to another successful year of growth in 2017

2016 has proven to be a phenomenal year of success and growth for the specialist life science recruitment company PiR. Team work, client engagement and an in-depth understanding of the market have resulted in PiR’s most exciting and rewarding year to date, as it continues to work with an outstanding array of early-stage, investor backed life science organisations.

The boutique company made several new appointments during 2016 including a client services manager for the interims business, a project administrator and a trainee researcher. Significant promotions have also taken place; Sally Hope, now CEO, and Nicola Williams, who continues to provide the critical back office glue, in her new role as Business Operations Director.

The growth and development of the team has quickly helped to underpin both the executive search practice, specifically for innovative companies in the gene and cell therapy arenas, and the interims practice, where PiR continues to extend its reach to an ever wider and sought after candidate pool.

Sally commented: “It has been an extraordinary year; we have won new projects, mainly as a result of referrals via investors, influencers and board members. PiR is recognised for our ability to be flexible, our market knowledge, going that extra mile as well as building relationships, personalising our approach to our clients and candidates. There are well defined opportunities for career progression within the company for our staff and we continue to search for the best talent to join us during what will be another vibrant year.”

Carolyn Douthwaite, founder and non-executive Chair of PiR, added: “Sally has created a culture of collaborative team work and providing solutions for challenging projects; an approach which is valued by clients, candidates, colleagues and strategic partners. Our ability to be professional, flexible, transparent and engaging in all our dealings with clients and candidates alike is a winning formula.”

For more information on PiR, visit http://www.pir-resourcing.com

One Nucleus – Genesis 2016

It’s pharmaceutical crystal ball time. There was an interesting debate on what will drive growth in the Pharma industry in the 21st century debated by a distinguished panel. Their thoughts were gene therapies and advanced biologics will come of age as we have seen with MAB’s and the possibility of generic gene therapies was discussed. The other area of debate was around med tech and how the likes of Google will become further involved in Pharma and potentially go on  the acquisition trail. As always an interesting debate and good to catch up with leaders in the industry. PiR is looking forward to Genesis 2017 to see how things evolve in the next 12 months.

One Nucleus Genesis

One Nucleus Genesis



bioProcessUK Conference 2016

ATMP’s coming of age! At the bioProcessUK conference the focus was heavily around advanced therapies and their manufacture. Companies such as Autolus, NightstaRx, Reneuron and Pfizer all discussed the various strategies and challenges they face. Whether that is to build manufacturing capabilities themselves, or try and find a third party CMO with the required capabilities. Each approach has its own unique challenges and strengths. The key challenge each strategy had, is how to scale up for phase III manufacture for clinical trials. This is a step forward as at previous conferences this had not yet needed to be addressed. It is positive that phase III trials are  now becoming a challenge to solve!

The stand out thing for me this year was the community that has developed in the ATMP space over the last few years. The Cell Therapy Catapult and the advanced therapies taskforce has helped to create a community that is all pulling together to help to solve these problems. It was evident from all those presenting that there is a passion and commitment to get these ground-breaking medicines to the patients and make a difference. At PiR we hope to be able to help these companies continue to grow and develop as ATMP’s begin to attain their true potential.

Mark Johnson Tuesday 29 November 2016