Dr Bissan Al-Lazikani is formally trained in molecular biology and computing. She obtained a B.Sc. (Hons) in molecular biology from University College London, followed by a Masters degree in Computer Science from Imperial College.
Dr Al-Lazikani achieved her PhD in computational structural biology from Cambridge University and the MRC Laboratories of Molecular Biology under the supervision of Dr Cyrus Chothia, where she worked on understanding the structural basis for immune recognition. Subsequently, she became a Howard Hughes postdoctoral fellow at the laboratories of Professor Barry Honig in Columbia University, New York, where Dr Al-Lazikani focused on structure analysis, prediction and modeling for the purpose of understanding the basis of ligand-receptor interactions.
Upon completion of her postdoctoral, Dr Al-Lazikani joined a London-based Biotechnology company, Inpharmatica, where she led a team to development of Chemogenomics databases and tools to aid target prioritisation and drug discovery. These are now available to the community via a Wellcome strategic award through the ChEMBL resources at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI).
After helping with the transition of these resources to the EBI, Dr Al-Lazikani joined the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit in 2009 to establish and lead the computational biology and chemogenomics team in order to apply computational techniques to cancer drug discovery.
Here, she led the development of the world’s largest cancer knowledgebase, canSAR and established novel approaches for objective and systematic evaluation of therapeutic targets for cancer. She applies these approaches to support the drug discovery efforts at the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics unit and to drive the Unit’s exploratory portfolio.