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The DDU attracts expertise from across the biopharmaceutical industry and academia. Combined with our outstanding facilities, this has created a unique environment for industry ready drug discovery research within an academic environment.

Our 80+ staff has accumulated more than 600 years of biopharmaceutical industry experience, in companies including AstraZeneca, GSK, Merck (MSD) and Pfizer, involved in the delivery of 59 clinical candidates and 8 marketed drugs.

DDU Management Team

  • Julie leads the DDU’s business development activities since joining the DDU in 2013 with 13 years’ experience in life sciences commercialisation. She supports the Innovative Targets portfolio both with collaborative and partnering opportunities and coordinates the DDU’s marketing activities.

  • Louise is a Chartered Management Accountant who manages finances across the DDU’s portfolio and evaluates overall financial performance.

  • Paul has led the development of the DDU since 2006. He is a medicinal chemist and brings wide experience of drug discovery project leadership and more than 23 years’ experience in the biopharmaceutical industry.

  • One of the founding members of the DDU, Ian leads teams of chemists working on Diseases of the Developing World projects. He is a medicinal chemist with experience across a number of drug discovery projects, including co-leading (with Dr Read) the team that developed the DDU’s pre-clinical candidate for malaria.

  • Kevin brings extensive experience of early phase drug discovery, lead optimisation project leadership and pre-clinical development gained from over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Kevin’s team works closely with the medicinal chemists to deliver high quality candidate molecules for entry into formal pre-clinical development.

  • David joined the DDU in 2010 having spent 15 years in the biopharmaceutical industry. David’s team conducts assay development, small molecule screening and an extensive array of mechanism of action and other supporting biology assays to define and characterise small molecules.


The DDU was initiated by Professors Mike Ferguson and Alan Fairlamb in order to translate their world leading research in tropical parasitic diseases of the developing world in to new, more effective treatments for some of the world's most neglected diseases, including African sleeping sickness, Chagas' disease and Leishmaniasis. Mike and Alan continue to be co-directors for the Drug Discovery unit.

  • Mike is Associate Dean for Research Strategy at the University Of Dundee School Of Life Sciences following 7 years as Dean of Research. His continued support for the DDU during this time has allowed the unit to double in size over the last 3 years including the provision of new lab space and state of the art equipment in the Centre for Interdisciplinary and Translational Research.

  • Alan research interests remain in the development of novel drug targets for parasitic diseases. His studies of the modes of drug action and the mechanisms by which parasites acquire resistance to drugs such as the arsenical and melarsoprol resulted in the discovery of trypanothione, a metabolite unique to trypanosomatid parasites responsible for human African trypanosomiasis, Chagas' disease and leishmaniasis.