Chas Bountra Professor of Translational Medicine at the Nuffield Department of Medicine, and Chief Scientist at the Structural Genomics Consortium, was awarded an OBE for services to Translational Medical Research in the 2018 New Years Honours List.
Throughout Chas’s career he has championed the concept that CNS drug discovery is too great a challenge for academia or industry alone. Chas realised that corporate competition was one of the major obstacles to successful drug discovery. In the traditional model research companies, both large and small, wasted resources and time by investigating the same targets behind closed doors and patents, when talking to each other would enable them to better target their efforts to speed up advancements and avoid repeat failures. This led him to pioneer the concept of open innovation between academia and industry and more importantly between industrial partners.
Following the completion of the Human Genome Project Chas recognised the urgent need to ensure that structures of novel human proteins were generated quickly and cheaply, but most importantly were made freely available in order to catalyse ‘structure-based drug design’. The Structural Genomics Consortium (SGC), led by Chas, was therefore established in 2003, adopting a wholly novel open-access model to restructure the existing drug discovery ecosystem.
The SGC is a public-private partnership with the goal of generating freely available reagents: novel proteins, assays, structures, inhibitors, and antibodies for academic and industry collaborators to share. The SGC currently has over 140 scientists and collaborates with several hundred academic labs around the world. All Consortium members agree to release all novel reagents, data, and disease knowledge to the biomedical community, immediately. Therefore, the entire biomedical community is able to accelerate basic and translational science more collaboratively and quickly. This has the prospect to transform science in all disease areas through the validation of new biological pathways and targets.
Among other honours conferred on Oxford academics, Tim Crow, Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry was awarded an OBE for his pioneering research into the causes of schizophrenia.