Chief Scientific Officer takes the helm of dementia Drug Discovery Institute in Cambridge

Alzheimer’s Research UK has appointed a Chief Scientific Officer to lead its £10million Drug Discovery Institute at the University of Cambridge. The Institute forms part of a £30 million Drug Discovery Alliance, also involving Institutes at the University of Oxford and University College London, which will accelerate the discovery of new, effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and other causes of dementia.

There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia and that number is set to reach one million by 2020. Yet, there have been no new treatments for Alzheimer’s since 2002 and many people with other causes of dementia have no specific treatments available to them.

The Alzheimer’s Research UK Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute will tackle this desperate lack of medicines head-on and Dr John Skidmore will lead the work of the Institute as its Chief Scientific Officer. Dr John Skidmore is a chemist by training and has a wealth of drug development experience from both the pharmaceutical industry and within the University of Cambridge. Dr Skidmore will unite the ground-breaking neuroscience research taking place across the city, with cutting edge resources and drug discovery experts at the Institute, based at the Addenbrooke’s biomedical campus. The team will drive the development of the best ideas, in the hunt for new treatments for dementia.

Dr John Skidmore, Chief Scientific Officer at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute, said:  “I’m delighted to take on this new challenge at the Alzheimer’s Research UK Cambridge Drug Discovery Institute, to support research through the critical early phases of drug discovery. I’ll be drawing on the wealth of expertise that surrounds us at the University of Cambridge and throughout the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, in the hunt for key proteins or biological processes that could play a critical role in the diseases that cause dementia. I’ll lead an expert drug discovery team, made up of biologists and chemists, to start the search for compounds that could act to slow or stop the disease.

“There is a growing recognition of the huge impact the condition has and the desperate need to develop medicines to tackle it. We aim to capitalise on the building momentum for dementia research and accelerate progress towards new treatments. Cambridge is home to world-leading dementia researchers from those developing new tools to detect changes inside the brain, to teams using stem cells to understand the earliest changes in the disease. We will make sure that research taking place in Cambridge is at the cutting edge of current drug discovery efforts in dementia and I firmly believe that we will be successful in delivering experimental drugs with the potential of being the new dementia drugs of tomorrow.”

Dr Skidmore will work closely with Lead Academic Scientist David Rubinsztein, as well as Chief Scientific Officers at the other members of the Drug Discovery Alliance, and draw on their individual strengths to ensure that efforts are coordinated in the hunt for new treatments.

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Dementia is our greatest medical challenge and to find new treatments for the condition, we need big ambitions supported by a world-class team. We’re delighted to welcome Dr John Skidmore on board to share our vision and drive. He’ll bring more than a decade of drug development experience to our unique venture, ensuring that we’re exploring as many promising avenues as we can to find successful new treatments. With 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, including over 8,000 in Cambridgeshire alone, this is a condition we cannot ignore and we must continue to invest in world-leading research to change the lives of those affected.”

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