Executive Director and Head of Biology
Dr Richardson is Executive Director and Head of Biology at our London Discovery Centre. She leads a highly talented group of scientists with a breadth of leading molecular/cell biology skill sets. Jill is leading a portfolio of innovative drug discovery programmes with the aim of developing novel, differentiated medicines for the treatment of diseases of high unmet need, with a focus on neurodegenerative diseases.
Jill has an outstanding track record of contribution to neuroscience research and drug discovery within the Pharmaceutical Industry, having spent 23 years at GlaxoSmithKline before joining MSD in 2018. With over 130 peer reviewed publications, she is internationally recognised for her expertise in neuroscience research and drug discovery and has made important contributions to neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, pain and epilepsy during her career.
She obtained both her degree in biochemistry and PhD in Developmental Biology from the University of Warwick, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, and has a Visiting Professorship at Imperial College London. She serves on several national and international Advisory Boards including the Wellcome Trust, MRC DRI Quinquennial panel and ARUK DDI Review Panel.
Executive Director and Head of Chemistry
Dr Darren McKerrecher is Executive Director and Head of Chemistry at our London Discovery Centre. He plays a central role in our Global Chemistry Leadership Team and leads a diverse group of talented scientists currently based at The Francis Crick Institute.
Darren joined MSD in 2022 after a long and successful career at AstraZeneca where he and his teams contributed to the identification and progression of multiple clinical candidates in a range of disease areas. His experience spans from target and hit identification through lead optimisation to candidate selection, with particular interests in property-based design and leading cross-disciplinary teams. Darren is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Chartered Chemist. He secured a first-class degree in Chemistry from the University of Edinburgh before attaining a PhD from the University of York.
Darren’s experience and leadership in medicinal chemistry and drug discovery will help drive forward our company’s innovation in areas of high, unmet clinical need.
Senior Principal Scientist and Lead of Data & Genomic Sciences
Dr Victor Neduva is Senior Principal Scientist and Lead of Data & Genomic Sciences at the London Discovery Centre.
He plays a central role in our global AI/ML Accelerate Initiative and leads an interdisciplinary group of scientists who are leveraging cutting-edge analytical approaches for drug discovery, and forward and reverse translation. Victor has over 15 years of drug discovery experience in developing and applying fit-for-purpose technologies for target and biomarker discovery, pipeline decision making and delivering impact in both early and late-stage development. He has contributed to a number of drug discovery programmes, and participated in preparation of regulatory packages and marketing authorisation fillings. At MSD, Victor has established and is leading several academics, charities, government, and industry partnerships to accelerate disease detection and prevention, to improve diversity of genetic research in the UK, and to train a new generation of AI/ML scientists.
Victor has numerous publications in prestigious scientific journals such as Science and Nature Biotechnology, and is an invited speaker at national and international conferences. Victor is an honorary lecturer at Imperial College London, he completed his post-doctoral training at Wellcome Trust Centre in University of Edinburgh, and received his PhD from the EMBL and University of Heidelberg.
Global Head of Translational Biomarkers in Neuroscience
Dr Fiona Thomson is a Distinguished Scientist and Global Head of Translational Biomarker Research within Neuroscience Discovery Research at MSD. Fiona is a pharmacologist who has spent most of her career in the pharmaceutical industry, where she has defined neuroscience discovery therapy area strategy and led a portfolio of projects that have successfully delivered several novel drug candidates into the clinical pipeline. Fiona has also led early clinical development teams, evaluating novel investigational drugs, in patients with neurodegenerative disease and psychiatric illnesses.
Fiona is an Honorary Professor at University of Glasgow where she established the Translational Pharmacology Laboratory to spearhead the discovery of novel biomarkers, to predict and monitor treatment response in cancer patients within clinical trials of novel therapies. Fiona gained a BSc (first class) and PhD in pharmacology from the University of Edinburgh and is an honorary member of the British Pharmacological Society.
Senior Director of Neuroscience Biology
Dr Janet Brownlees is a Senior Director of Neuroscience Biology at MS Discovery Research Centre in London, leading a team of biologists working on various mechanisms of ageing and neurodegeneration.
Janet has many years of neuroscience research experience in both academia and 18 years of drug discovery experience. She completed a BSc in Biochemistry at Queen’s University, Ireland followed by a PhD on peptidase activity of the endothelia cells of the blood brain barrier, before moving to post-doctoral positions at King’s College where she worked on neurofilament and mitochondria dynamics, axonal transport and tau phosphorylation.
With previous positions at GlaxoSmithKline, and LifeArc, Janet worked on neurodegeneration, pain and oncology largely through academic, charity and biotech collaborations to. She led the Dementia Consortium with Alzheimer’s Research UK and led Neuroscience research at LifeArc.
Director and Head of Pharmacology
Dr Jeremy Presland is Director and Head of Pharmacology at our London Discovery Centre. Jeremy has more than 25 years of drug discovery experience gained in leading biopharma companies including MSD, Pfizer, Schering Plough and Organon. Jeremy has experience managing collaborative teams spanning Europe, USA and Asia, and is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusivity. He transitioned from our Boston location to the London Discovery Centre in 2019 to lead and connect the Pharmacology group with our global organisation. Focussing on central diseases brings his career full circle as he received his PhD from the University of Kent for research on dopamine receptors.
Jeremy has contributed to the identification and progression of multiple clinical candidates and marketed drugs across a range of disease areas including psychiatric and cardiometabolic diseases, immunology and oncology. Jeremy is a member of the British Pharmacological Society and SLAS.
Director of Neuroscience Biology
Dr James Duce is a Director of Neuroscience Biology at the Discovery Centre in London, leading a team of biologists working on various mechanisms of ageing and neurodegeneration.
Dr Duce has spent his scientific career investigating pathological mechanisms of ageing and neurodegenerative disease. He obtained his Ph.D from Cardiff University in identifying novel targets related to neurobiological mechanisms of Huntington’s disease.
With an extensive publication record and broad international research network, James is internationally recognised for his broad expertise in neuroscience research, in particular within mechanisms of oxidative stress, proteostasis and mitochondrial biology.
Director in Medicinal Chemistry
Dr David Shaw is a Director in medicinal chemistry at our London Discovery Centre. David has 15 years of drug discovery experience gained in leading biopharma companies including MSD, Vertex, Pfizer and GSK. He is a key contributor to multiple successful POCs in Phase II trials, alongside the establishment, leadership and development, of medicinal chemistry and cross‑functional teams.
David received a first-class degree from the University of Sheffield (MChem), before completing a PhD at the University of Cambridge (UK) and post-doctoral studies at The Scripps Research Institute in California.
Director in Medicinal Chemistry
Dr David Hirst is a Director within the Discovery Chemistry function at our London site. He has nearly 20 years’ experience as a medicinal chemist in the pharmaceutical industry working in a wide range of therapeutic areas and target-class. David has been a core member of numerous program teams and made an impact across the drug discovery process; from target validation, through hit-to-lead/lead optimisation, to pre-clinical studies in preparation for FTIH assessment. In doing so, he has taken a lead role on several successful drug discovery efforts, delivering clinical candidate molecules.
David has track-record of engagement with the external scientific community, including numerous academic collaborations, publications, and organisation of high-profile scientific symposia. David is a member of the RSC and SMR.
GB-NON-07909 | August 2023