January 27, 2020 – With the integration of technology into all facets of everyday life, the life sciences and healthcare industry is hardly alone in facing technology-related issues. These take on increased importance when they impact health, disease diagnosis, treatment and, ultimately, human longevity. Having the right leaders in place to sort through these complex challenges, say recruiters serving the sector, is critical — especially those with vision and transformational skills.
Recently, life sciences-focused executive search firm Coulter Partners recruited former GlaxoSmithKline executive Ian Churcher as the new chief scientific officer for biotechnology company OxStem. Managing partner Kay Wardle led the assignment.
“On behalf of the board, I warmly welcome Ian to OxStem and we are pleased to have attracted such an accomplished drug hunter to the OxStem team,” said Stuart Collinson, chairman and CEO of OxStem. “I thank Coulter Partners for their professional support in achieving this key appointment. Ian brings extensive R&D management experience to OxStem and his track record of innovation in both pharma and biotech is well-evidenced. We look forward to working with Ian on our important mission to deliver innovative regenerative medicines based on the translation of our breakthrough science.”
Dr. Churcher has 22 years of experience in pharmaceutical R&D obtained in positions of increasing seniority in international companies that include Merck Sharp & Dohme (Merck), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and BenevolentAI. At BenevolentAI, he was SVP for drug discovery with responsibility for leadership of a portfolio of drug discovery projects across several therapeutic areas, from target identification through lead optimization to preclinical entry, working closely with machine learning experts to develop a cutting-edge AI drug discovery platform.
During his tenure at GSK, Dr. Churcher was senior GSK fellow and latterly head, protein degradation discovery performance unit, pioneering the early development and application of PROTAC approaches in drug discovery in collaboration with professor Craig Crews (Yale University) and led a portfolio of programs to IND-enabling studies. Earlier in his tenure at GSK, he led a newly-formed fragment-based drug design group and implemented this technology across GSK’s portfolio, as well as leading screening collection enhancement projects and chemical biology groups. At Merck, Dr. Churcher made seminal contributions as program leader from program initiation to delivery of several development candidates on targets for Alzheimer’s disease and was co-lead of Merck’s Alzheimer’s disease exploratory biology strategy.
Dr. Churcher’s major accomplishments in terms of innovative research and its practical application are demonstrated by 38 peer-reviewed scientific publications, 16 patents and identification/development of many new drug targets, drug discovery technologies and preclinical/clinical drug candidates.
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OxStem discovers small molecules that activate or re-program tissueresident (endogenous) stem and progenitor cells, targeting diseases with significant unmet clinical needs. OxStem’s six research programs focus on first-in-class therapeutics for haematological malignancies, neurodegenerative disease, retinal disease, cardiovascular disease, inflammation and diabetes.
Life Sciences Specialists
Coulter Partners is a senior-level executive search boutique focused exclusively on identifying global life sciences leaders and board directors. The firm serves clients in the pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, medical devices, diagnostics, CRO and services sectors.
Coulter operates overseas offices in the U.K., Germany, Switzerland and Denmark. In the U.S., the firm has offices in Cambridge, MA; Princeton, NJ; Pittsburgh; Los Angeles; and Short Hills, NJ.
Dr. Wardle has over 20 years of life science search experience and extensive R&D expertise. She has taken a lead on business development and delivery since joining Coulter Partners in 2013. Dr. Wardle has a strong focus on scientific and medical roles within R&D, spanning discovery, preclinical and clinical development, regulatory, product development, CMC and related disciplines. She has also placed C-suite, board and senior-level executives globally, working with both emerging and established organizations in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and contract research sectors.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media