Dr Rob van Montfort studies target-directed cancer drug discovery, focusing on protein-ligand interactions, using protein crystallography and a range of biochemical and biophysical methods.
He leads the Hit Discovery and Structural Design Team within the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit (CTU) at the ICR. The Team is composed of the Analytical Technology and Screening and Structure-Based Design groups, and is responsible for hit identification and characterisation of advanced inhibitors resulting from the drug discovery projects of the CTU.
Dr van Montfort studied and received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry and PhD in protein crystallography at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. He joined the eye-lens group at the School of Crystallography at Birkbeck College at the University of London as a postdoctoral fellow in 1998, where he became interested in proteins involved in stress response and determined the first structure of a eukaryotic small heat shock protein — HSP16.5 from wheat — belonging to the same protein family as HSP27.
In 2001, he joined Astex Therapeutics in Cambridge where he became involved in fragment-based drug discovery using high-throughput X-ray crystallography and ligand-based nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) methods. This research was carried out on a variety of therapeutic targets including the tyrosine phosphatase PTP1b and the serine protease thrombin.
At the end of 2007 Dr van Montfort joined the ICR, where he holds a joint position between the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit and the Division of Structural Biology. He set up the Structure-Based Drug Design Research Group and is currently leading the Hit Discovery and Structural Design Team. His research is carried out in close collaboration with colleagues at the ICR including medicinal and computational chemists, biologists and DMPK experts.
Dr van Montfort gained the title of Reader at the ICR in 2019.