Dr Burke is committed to the discovery of new drugs to treat human diseases and has been involved in pharmaceutical research for more than 25 years.
She obtained her BSc in Biochemistry from the University of Kent, Canterbury, followed by a PhD there studying tubulin post-translational modifications. She then joined the Wellcome Research Laboratories in Beckenham to work on identifying novel targets for cancer drugs.
Following the merger of Glaxo with Wellcome and the formation of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Dr Burke gained expertise in numerous biochemical and cell-based screening technologies used to interrogate different target classes, including kinases, G-protein-coupled receptors and nuclear receptors for multiple therapeutic areas. She contributed to several successful drug discovery programmes including Tyverb for breast cancer and Avamys for allergic rhinitis. Additionally, she played a crucial role in automating data analysis and aligning integrated workflows across the global GSK screening sites.
Since joining the ICR in 2010, she has focussed on expanding the assay development capabilities in the Hit Discovery and Structural Design Team, by introducing state-of-the-art technologies to pursue novel therapeutic targets entering into the Cancer Therapeutics Unit portfolio. These targets include kinases, epigenetic enzymes, protein–protein interactions, chaperones and novel protein classes now being implicated in cancer.
To increase the high throughput screening capabilities of the Cancer Therapeutics Unit, Dr Burke has implemented acoustic dispensing technology, significantly reducing use of compounds and consumables, improving data quality and enabling miniaturised 1,536 well assays. She has managed the logistics of expanding the compound library to 200,000 compounds in partnership with Cancer Research Technology and in collaboration with Specs in the Netherlands, who now host the library. Additionally, she has implemented the use of the Dotmatics software suite for data analysis and visualisation of large datasets to aid decisions about how to progress compounds.
The enhanced assay capabilities Dr Burke has introduced have been central to a number of successful multidisciplinary academic and commercial collaborations.