Professor Simon Ward
I’m Professor Simon Ward, I’m a Sêr Cymru Professor in Translational Drug Discovery and the Co-Director of the Medicines Discovery Institute at Cardiff University.
I joined the University in 2017 to set up the Institute, building on work that was previously being undertaken at the University of Sussex.
What does medicines discovery mean to you?
Medicines discovery is a broad term used to describe the creation of new therapies, whether that involves creating an entirely novel drug or re-purposing existing medications and applying it to new treatment avenues.
Within an academic environment, working in medicine discovery provides me with the opportunity to make a real impact on people’s lives. We can focus on diseases that might not have the greatest commercial value, but make a big difference to the lives of people who are receiving treatment for health issues like cancer and mental health.
This field is multidisciplinary in nature, drawing scientists across a range of backgrounds together, to collectively pursue incredibly challenging goals.
Why are you interested in drug discovery as a researcher?
There are areas of huge medical need, such as neuroscience and mental health, which need new therapies to improve patient outcomes. As such, it’s a tremendous privilege to be able to use this position to continue an important battle to improve the lives of people with neurological conditions and mental health illnesses.
Through my research I would also want this work to contribute to the local and regional economy, through the generation of new companies, attracting investment into the region.
Could you tell me about your research at the moment?
My current work focuses on an exciting portfolio of neuroscience projects, each of which has received major external investment, to target various illnesses. These projects include investigating learning and memory in people with Schizophrenia and Huntington’s disease, improving the next generation of non-sedating anxiety drugs and investigating the most common inherited form of autism spectrum disorders called Fragile X.
We also build on exciting advances from within Cardiff University and beyond to bring this work from the lab bench to the bedside and make real differences to treatments in the clinic for patients facing mental health and central nervous illnesses, as well as cancer.
What has your job involved today?
This morning has involved finalising a grant review for the translational Funding MRC panel, which is a key part of my work, as it’s important to be active in the community.
This afternoon, I have been analysing data from one of our late stage projects, which aims to identify a potential drug molecule to progress to clinical trials.
How does working at the Institute help you as a researcher?
The institute is home to a fantastic and inspirational group of researchers, bringing a wide variety of backgrounds and expertise to our common goal – to find novel medicines.
Working together as a team provides me with incredible drive to succeed, and it’s a privilege to develop this institute in Cardiff University and work alongside such great scientists.