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Medicinal Chemistry 4 Team (including Analytical Chemistry)

Professor Swen Hoelder’s team designs and then synthesises molecules that could be used as cancer drugs.

Team leader

Professor Swen Hoelder

Professor Swen Hoelder

Team Leader

Professor Swen Hoelder is a key member of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit and applies his medicinal chemistry experience to discover and develop new cancer drugs. He has worked in both academia and industry, and has led teams to discover drug screening libraries and pre-clinical candidates.

ORCID 0000-0001-8636-1488

Team members

Dr Benjamin Bellenie
Dr Benjamin Bellenie
Senior Staff Scientist ORCID 0000-0001-9987-3079

Following 10 years in the pharmaceutical industry as a medicinal chemist, Dr Bellenie joined the ICR in 2014, where he works with multidisciplinary project teams seeking to discover new cancer treatments. He's interested in exploring new modalities including degraders and compounds that induce protein-protein interactions, and he supervises PhD projects in this area. He organises a drug discovery training programme for ICR scientists, and also teaches a medicinal chemistry course at UCL.

Dr Jack Cheung
Dr Jack Cheung
Senior Scientific Officer +44 20 3437 6170

Dr Jack Cheung joined the ICR in 2001 as a medicinal chemist. Now a Senior Scientific Officer, his work mainly involves designing and synthesising small molecules as cancer therapeutics. During his time at the ICR, he has contributed to a number of drug discovery projects including HSP90, AKT, CHK1, MPS1 and BCL6.

Dr Nick Cundy
Dr Nick Cundy
Postdoctoral Training Fellow

Dr Nicholas Cundy joined the ICR as a postdoctoral training fellow in February 2021. Previously Nick was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Ottawa working on TG2 inhibitors with Prof. Jeffrey Keillor. Nick obtained his MSci from the University of Birmingham and the stayed on to complete a PhD working on mechanistic inhibitors of IDO1 and JAK2 PROTACs with Dr Richard Grainger, Dr Sam Butterworth and Prof. Nicholas Barnes.

Will Darlow
Will Darlow
PhD student

Will Darlow joined the team in 2018 as a PhD student. He is currently working on the design and synthesis of libraries of PROTAC molecules to discover undrugged proteins amenable to a degradation strategy.

Dr Alice Harnden
Dr Alice Harnden
Postdoctoral Training Fellow

Alice joined the ICR in 2019 as a postdoctoral training fellow. She gained her PhD at Durham University synthesising responsive lanthanide complexes for MRI detection. She is currently working on the design and synthesis of both degraders and inhibitors of a transcriptional repressor protein.

Dr Maggie Liu
Dr Maggie Liu
Senior Scientific Officer

Maggie joined ICR in 2008 as NMR spectroscopist in the Structural Chemistry team after finishing her PhD study. In the past 12 years, apart from NMR, she has built up expertise in a wide range of analytical spectroscopy such as HPLC and MS and develops methods to support chemistry teams. She also expended her research into NMR based drug discovery, set up NMR fragment screening and ligand observed NMR assays for drug discovery projects.

Dr Amin Mirza
Dr Amin Mirza
Head of Structural Chemistry Facility

Amin joined the ICR at the beginning of 2000 after completing his PhD at the University of Bath with the late Prof. J.M.J. Williams. Since 2004 he has led Structural Chemistry in developing mass spectrometry and NMR approaches for CTU projects. He oversees a facility that provides expertise in small molecule characterisations, separations & purifications, physchem properties assay, and protein & ligand interactions.

Pasquale Morese
Pasquale Morese
Postdoctoral Training Fellow

Pasquale joined the ICR in September 2020 as a Postdoctoral Training Fellow. He previously studied chemistry and medicinal chemistry at Newcastle University, followed by a PhD at the Newcastle Centre for Cancer under the supervision of Prof. Mike Waring, focusing on using covalent inhibitors to target tumour cells. He currently works on design and synthesis of molecules as cancer therapeutics.

Meirion Richards
Meirion Richards
Senior Scientific Officer

Meirion is a Senior Scientific Officer in the Structural Chemistry team. He joined the ICR in 2004 after completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Bristol and his Masters at the University of Warwick. His work focuses on using mass spectrometry, chromatography and spectroscopic techniques for the structural elucidation, purification and physicochemical property determination of CTU project compounds.

Charlie Robertson
Charlie Robertson
PhD student

Charlie is a PhD Student funded through the iCASE programme in Medicinal Chemistry 4. He graduated from the University of Southampton (MChem), having spent an industrial placement working in medicinal chemistry in the neuroscience division of Janssen Pharmaceutica. His PhD project is to design and synthesise bifunctional molecules to drive novel Protein-Protein Interactions and redirect cell pathways.

Taleen Shakouri
Taleen Shakouri
Higher Scientific Officer ORCID 0000-0003-0356-1527

Taleen joined the ICR as a Higher Scientific Officer in the Structural Chemistry team at the beginning of September 2021. Previously Taleen completed her PhD at University College London where her research focused on the synthesis and characterisation of a novel polymer for 3D printable facial implants. Her work focuses on using a range of analytical techniques such as mass spectrometry, chromatography and NMR for the structural elucidation and purification of CTU project compounds.