Skip to main content

Drug Discovery, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Experimental Therapeutics (DDPSET)

Basic to clinical research developing new and improved therapies and diagnostics toward health and welfare benefits.

Areas of activity

Our research expertise is encompassed within the following areas of activity:

  • SAR and lead optimisation
  • Candidate design
  • Hit identification against validated targets
  • Synthetic and analytical chemistry
  • Bioassays
  • Molecular modeling
  • Formulation science and delivery technologies
  • Biological barriers
  • Biophysical/Biochemical interfaces
  • Receptor and Systems Pharmacology
  • Target ID and validation
  • Molecular pathology and models
  • Molecular diagnosis of disease.

Research interests/expertise

  • Computer-aided drug design and the development of molecular modelling software.
  • Anti-cancer drug design in a variety of tumour types (eg breast, pancreatic, gynaecological, prostate) with strategies including nucleotide prodrugs (“Protides”), enzyme- and receptor inhibitors, protein-protein interaction inhibitors, and immunotherapy.
  • Anti-microbial drug design including anti-viral nucleotide prodrugs (HIV, measles, influenza, hepatitis C) and anti-mycobacterials (nucleoside mimetics, CYP450s).
  • New anti-cancer and anti-microbial agents from natural products.
  • Diagnostic imaging (Positron Emission Tomography) agents in oncology and neurosciences.
  • Elucidating mechanisms of drug action at all levels of organisation, from intracellular sites, membranes and cells through to tissues, organs and intact organisms.
  • Cell signalling, pharmacology and molecular pathology in neurological disease (Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease), cancer (breast, urological, brain), cardiovascular disease, and infection and immunity (eg innate immunity, inflammation at surface interfaces).
  • Pharmaceutical microbiology including the study of biocide action, formulation preservation, biofilms, antibiotic resistance and the discovery of new anti-microbial agents from natural products.
  • Research at biophysical/biochemical interfaces toward synthetic biology and biotechnology tools, diagnostics, microfluidics, and molecular imprinting.
  • Synthesis, characterisation and exploitation of novel biomedical materials (devices, implants, surfaces, nanoparticles, micro-needles).
  • Bio-imaging and technological/biological aspects in the tissue and cellular trafficking of macromolecules.
  • Technological and biological aspects of drug and gene delivery (transcutaneous, pulmonary, intestinal and blood-brain barrier).
  • Bio-colloids in pharmaceutical formulations (eg Total Parenteral Nutrition).

Academic staff

Researchers in the theme have extensive international and national engagement with external stakeholders.

Staff memberResearch interests
Professor Les BaillieEvolution, ecology and the role of bacteriophages in horizontal gene transfer, detection of Anthrax, pathogenicity of Anthrax, Anthrax - host immune responses, vaccines against Anthrax, therapeutic antibodies.
Dr Marcella BassettoRational/Computer-aided drug design, chemical synthesis and evaluation of novel small-molecule bioactive compounds, with potential therapeutic applications in the antiviral, anticancer and inherited blinding disease research fields. Molecular modelling and application of in silico techniques to evaluate new therapeutic targets.
Professor James BirchallEnhanced delivery of therapeutic macromolecules to the skin via microfabricated microneedles. Delivery of formations via pulmonary routes.
Dr Jenna BowenSepsis and infection, with particular focus on the development of point-of-care diagnostic tools to enable rapid diagnosis, patient stratification and personalisation of therapies.
Dr Oliver CastellTo date, my research has been largely focused on the cell membrane and how membrane components such as lipids and proteins function and their spontaneous organisation in response to their environment.
Dr Allan Cosslett
(also MOHO)
Investigating the various aspects of physical and physico-chemical stability of parenteral nutrition admixtures. The application and comparison of particle size analysis equipment. Design and validation of methods and equipment for manufacturing sterile dosage forms and devices. Particulate contamination of intravenous devices and delivery systems. Effectiveness and safety of intravenous lipid emulsions as drug delivery systems. Examination of the effectiveness of intravenous filtration devices.
Dr Sion Coulman
(also MOHO)
My principal research interest is the development of the microneedle device as a non-invasive method for trans/intra-dermal delivery of novel and existing medicines, and the translation of microneedle technology from a laboratory prototype to a clinically useful device.
Dr William Ford
also MOHO)
Cannabinoids in the cardiovascular system, cannabinoids in the gastrointestinal tract, pulmonary inflammation, β-adrenoceptor stimulation and myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury.
Dr Julia GeeAnti‑hormone-induced signalling in ER + breast cancer. Mechanisms of anti‑hormone and anti-growth factor resistant breast cancer growth and progression. Novel target discovery and evaluation of new therapies using breast cancer cells in vitro. Signal transduction and biomarker studies in clinical cancer. Hypothesis-driven science surrounding issues at the interface between the nature of biological barriers and experimental therapeutics.
Professor Mark GumbletonIssues at the interface between the nature of biological barriers and experimental therapeutics. Blood-brain-barrier and brain tumour research.
Dr Meike Heurich-SevcencoThe mechanisms of cross-talk between blood-based proteolytic cascades of the immune system (complement) and coagulation. Role of complement and coagulation dysregulation and biomarkers in disease. Biomolecular characterization of protein interactions.
Dr Stephen HiscoxHow tumour cells develop a metastatic phenotype, how drug resistance contributes to this process and exploring the role of the tumour microenvironment as a modulator of such behaviour.
Dr Matthew IvorySkin immunology and the formulation of vaccines and other substances for delivery to the skin. In particular, the multiple subsets of dermal dendritic cells and their roles in immune responses.
Professor Arwyn JonesI have a major interest in endocytosis and cellular delivery of therapeutic macromolecules. My current projects fall under the overall themes of regulation of endocytosis and endocytic pathways.
Dr Emma KiddCellular and molecular pharmacology to understand more about the mechanisms underlying several disease processes. Ageing in the brain, Alzheimer disease, development of models of respiratory disease.
Professor Jean Yves MaillardMy research focuses on antimicrobial biocides, an area of continuing global importance due in part to the rise in hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) and emerging microbial resistance. 
Dr Youcef MehellouDiscovery of small molecule modulators of cell signalling cascades. Particular interest is in targeting phospho-mediated protein-protein interactions that are relevant to human health. The current focus is on the discovery of small molecules with the potential to treat cancer, hepatitis B, hypertension, stroke and Parkinson’s disease.
Dr Ben NewlandInterdisciplinary research into the use of nano, micro and macroscale materials for use in neuroscience research. Developing microscale spherical hydrogel scaffolds for cell and growth factor delivery to the Parkinsonian brain and developing a variety of other materials for applications in multiple sclerosis, cytokine delivery and neuroimaging.
Dr Mike PascoeMy research seeks to tackle global health challenges using sustainable solutions, with a particular focus on reducing the transmission of infectious diseases. From improving access to safer menstrual products to ensuring clean water and reducing reliance on plastic-based hygiene products, my work aims for transformative impact. Additionally, I have expertise in drug detection and harm-reduction approaches to address risks associated with counterfeit prescription medicines and controlled substances.
Dr Polina ProkopovichNovel biomedical materials, surface modification techniques, mechanical and surface characterisation of materials and pharmaceuticals, medical devices and microbial infection, phenomena of adhesion and bioadhesion, intermolecular and intersurface forces, friction and wear of biological systems (native tissues and cells), drug delivery devices, biocolloids.
Dr Claire SimonsCellular differentiation and proliferation - targeting specific enzymes (CYP24 and CYP26) and receptors (PPAR) directed towards the development of therapeutics for the treatment of diseases associated with hyperproliferation. Steroidogenesis - targeting enzymes associated with oestrogen production (primarily CYP19/aromatase) for the development of therapeutic agents for the treatment of hormone-dependent breast cancer. Antiinfectives - covering antibacterial (including antimycobacterial) and antiviral agents.
Dr Kathryn TaylorThe mechanism of action of zinc transporters, regulation of intracellular zinc homeostasis, role of zinc transporters in cell migration, and role of zinc and zinc transporters in breast cancer progression.
Dr Chris ThomasAnalysis of skin lipids and correlation with epidermal homeostasis, disease and wound healing processes. Skin cancer models and the interaction of epidermal immune cells. Microbiome and lipidome of the human epidermis.
Professor Andrew WestwellBreast cancer drug design and discovery, selective apoptosis induction in cancer cells, protein-protein interactions as cancer drug targets, E3 ubiquitin ligases as therapeutic targets in cancer, diagnostic imaging (Positron Emission Tomography) in oncology and neuroscience, characterisation of novel psychoactive substances, in conjunction with Public Health Wales and Llandough Hospital Cardiff.
Dr Alex WhiteMajor interests concern the design and synthesis of novel anti-cancer agents. This involves synthetic organic chemistry, molecular modelling, purification methods and spectroscopy, particularly high-field NMR, and close collaboration with biochemists. Particularly of interest is the development of natural product lead compounds as clinically useful chemotherapeutic agents.