Paul Andrews


Paul holds a BSc and PhD in Molecular Biology from the University of Sheffield and has over 25 years post-doctoral research experience spanning biochemistry, genetics, cell biology and quantitative imaging. Since 2007 Paul has focused on phenotypic drug discovery, holding team leader positions in the Drug Discovery Unit in Dundee and then in the biotech Cellartis focusing on screening hESCs. Paul set up the National Phenotypic Screening Centre in 2014/15 and currently serves on the SAB of Axol BioSciences, the Board of Phenomics Discovery Initiative’s Board and is Theme Advisor (Technology and Analysis) for the Scottish Universities Life Science Alliance.

Abstract: The Phenomics Discovery Initiative (PDi): bringing disease-relevant biology from academia into the industrial drug discovery pipeline

The National Phenotypic Screening Centre (NPSC) launched in 2015 with ~£10M of Scottish Government investment – with labs in three of the UK’s most successful research-intensive Universities: Dundee, Edinburgh and Oxford. NPSC aims to redress the balance in drug discovery - moving away from target-centric approaches that have historically shown poor translational efficacy. NPSC focuses its current efforts on advanced phenotypic screening approaches: developing the most pathophysiologically-relevant assays possible; leveraging the latest biology particularly hiPSC/stem cell technology; CRISPR/Cas9; complex co-culture, 3D cultures and organoids; implementing multi-parametric profiling and data analysis methods, as well as facilitating technology advancement.

There is a deep well of academic biology that remains somewhat untapped, for want of translational direction. Our Phenomics Discovery Initiative (PDi), with Janssen as its founding partner, is tackling this deficit, enabling de-risked phenotypic drug discovery at the highest level. PDi leverages NPSC’s world class facilities, industry-standard operation and extensive global networks to either crowdsource or seek-out world-leading labs, working together to develop the best predictive biology platforms. Naturally, stem cell-derived models make up a key part of this toolbox. The challenge for industry is to adapt workflows to the complexity and timescales, whilst harnessing the unrivalled power of stem cell systems.