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Professor Keith Jones

Team Leader

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Professor Keith Jones worked to design, synthesise and develop potential drug molecules to inhibit proteins or signalling pathways relevant in cancer. He has held positions within the Royal Society of Chemistry and retired in October 2018. Team: Medicinal Chemistry 3
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Professor Jones is a medicinal chemist involved in designing, synthesising and optimising small molecules as inhibitors of various proteins and signalling pathways.

The aim of this work is to develop these compounds into clinical candidates suitable for early clinical trials as potential new cancer therapeutics. Professor Jones is Leader of the Medicinal Chemistry Team 3 within the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit. This team is involved in all stages of drug discovery from hit generation through to candidate selection and the key skills are in the synthesis of small molecules and in understanding their interactions with proteins both in vitro and in vivo.

Professor Jones carried out his undergraduate studies in Natural Sciences at Cambridge University and followed this with a PhD in organic chemistry from the same institution. He was appointed to a lectureship at King’s College London where he stayed for 18 years, with the exception of a year carrying out research at Columbia University in New York. Having been promoted to Reader in Organic Chemistry in 1995, he moved to a chair at Kingston University where he led a multidisciplinary research group in biomedical sciences until moving to his current position at the ICR in 2005. He is currently Deputy Dean (Biomedical Sciences) with responsibility for students and other academic matters.

He is most widely known for his work in the area of heterocyclic synthesis and especially the way in which he and his group developed the use of carbon-centred free radicals in the synthesis of heterocyclic compounds. He has been involved in a number of collaborative projects with biologists and clinicians that have led to compounds possessing potent activity against the parasite that causes bilharzia, Schistosoma mansoni, and to compounds that inhibit the sodium/potassium pump that controls hypertension. He has a significant current interest in discovering small molecules that interfere with protein/protein interactions and using various approaches to understand the role and behaviour of such compounds.

Professor Jones has held a number of positions within the Royal Society of Chemistry including secretary and chairman of the Heterocyclic and Synthesis Group as well as vice-chair of the Organic Division. He has also been chairman of the Fine Chemicals Group of the Society of Chemical Industry. He has been involved in the organising and running a number of national and international meetings in the general area of organic synthesis and medicinal chemistry. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Barcelona and the Australian National University in Canberra.

In his spare time, Professor Jones coaches youngsters in cricket and football, enjoys opera and wine, and climbs mountains, mainly in the Lake District and Scotland.

Professor Jones retired in October 2018.