Our Team

Dr Geoff Brooke (he/him)

Independent Non-Executive Chair

MBBS, MBA
Independent Non-Executive Chair (appointed 1 March 2017)

Dr Brooke is a healthcare industry and venture capital veteran with over 30 years’ international experience as the founder, lead investor and/or Chairman/Director of numerous healthcare companies with a realised value of more than $1.5 billion. Most notably, he was the Managing Director and Founder of leading life sciences venture capital firm, GBS Ventures – one of Asia Pacific’s premier investors in the healthcare space. There, Dr Brooke was responsible for GBS’s healthcare venture activity in the region and raised $450 million in venture and private equity funds, focused on biopharmaceuticals, medical devices and services.

Dr Brooke was also responsible for numerous investments and exits via NASDAQ and ASX public listings and trade sales, as well as being lead investor in numerous investments syndicated in multiple rounds with premier US venture firms. Dr Brooke was also President and Founder of US-based seed healthcare venture capital firm, Medvest Inc., with investors including the venture capital arm of leading global multinational medical devices, pharmaceutical and consumer packaged goods manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson. Medvest was focused on founding companies based upon healthcare-related technology, including pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, therapeutic devices, medical services and information systems.

Dr Brooke now acts as a private investor in, and independent director for, a number of small to medium-sized Australian and US private and public companies. He holds a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery from Melbourne University (Australia) and a Masters of Business Administration from IMEDE (Switzerland), now IMD.

During the past three years Dr Brooke has served as a Director of the following ASX-listed companies:

• Non-Executive Director of Acrux Limited (ASX:ACR) – Current

• Non-Executive Chair of Cynata Therapeutics Limited (ASX:CYP) – Current

Dr George Morstyn (he/him)

Independent Non-Executive Director

MBBS FRACP PhD FTSE
Appointed 1 December 2017

Dr Morstyn has more than 25 years’ experience in the biotechnology industry including as Senior Vice President of Development and Chief Medical Officer at Amgen Inc. Dr Morstyn had overall responsibility globally for drug development in all therapeutic areas including neuroscience at Amgen Inc. and was a member of the Operating Committee. Many new products were approved and launched during Dr Morstyn’s tenure. Prior to joining Amgen Inc. Dr Morstyn was the principal investigator on the earliest clinical studies of the haemopoietic colony stimulating factors (CSF). The CSFs were subsequently approved and launched and were a major medical breakthrough that have been used to reduce side effects of chemotherapy and enable transplantation in more than 20 million patients worldwide. The CSFs have become multi-billion dollar drugs. Since returning to Australia, Dr Morstyn has been a Non-Executive Director of various for-profit and not-for-profit companies, including many biotechnology companies.

Dr Morstyn is a medical graduate of Monash University (Australia), and obtained a PhD at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (Australia) and a FRACP in Medical Oncology following a Fellowship at the National Cancer Institute in the USA. He is currently an advisor to Symbio (Tokyo) Limos Biotech and TroBio. He is a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering.

Dr Morstyn has held no other ASX-listed directorships during the past three years.

View Dr Morstyn’s LinkedIn Profile

Malcom McComas (he/him)

Independent Non-Executive Director

BEc, LLB (Monash), SFFin, FAIDC
Appointed 4 April 2019

Mr McComas is a company director with experience in healthcare including drug development, clinical trials, the regulatory environment and medical devices. He was previously an investment banker with career experience in financial services covering mergers and acquisitions, debt and equity funding across multiple industry sectors including healthcare, FMCG, resources, financial services and privatisations. He has held leadership roles with Grant Samuel as Director, County NatWest (now Citigroup) as Managing Director and Head of Corporate Finance and Morgan Grenfell (now Deutsche Bank) working in Australia and the UK.

Previously, Mr McComas was a lawyer at Herbert Geer specialising in tax and company law. He has for-purpose experience as a director of Australasian Leukaemia and Lymphoma Group (ALLG), the blood cancer clinical trials group and peak body experience as past President of the Financial Services Institute of Australia. He is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and holds degrees in Law and Economics from Monash University (Australia).

During the past three years Mr McComas has served as a Director of the following ASX-listed companies:

• Chair of Pharmaxis Limited (ASX:PXS) – Current

• Chair of Fitzroy River Corporation Limited (ASX:FZR) – Current

• Non-Executive Director of Core Lithium Limited (ASX:CXO) – Current

• Non-Executive Director of Royalco Resources Limited (ASX:RCO) – Delisted February 2020

View Mr McComas’s LinkedIn Profile

Dr Nicki Vasquez (she/her)

Independent Non-Executive Director

PhD
Appointed 1 March 2023

Dr Nicki Vasquez is an immunologist and biopharmaceutical executive with more than 25 years of biopharmaceutical discovery research and development experience.

Dr Vasquez is currently Chief Portfolio Strategy & Alliance Officer at Sutro Biopharma, a clinical stage oncology company in San Francisco where she is responsible for program management, portfolio strategy, and alliance management. Prior to joining Sutro, Dr Vasquez was Vice President of Program & Portfolio Management at StemCells, Inc., where she was responsible for establishing project management of research and clinical stage programs exploring stem cell therapy for Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord injury and dry Age-related Macular Degeneration. Earlier in her career Dr Vasquez worked at Elan Pharmaceuticals where she held positions of increasing responsibility in Alzheimer’s disease and autoimmune discovery research, to Vice President Research Operations & Program Management, and Vice President Development Program & Portfolio Management.

Dr. Vasquez obtained her doctoral degree in immunology from the University of California, San Diego, and received her post-doctoral training at Genentech.

View Dr Vasquez’s LinkedIn Profile

Dr Steven Gourlay (he/him)

Managing Director
Chief Executive Officer

MBBS FRACP PhD MBA
Managing Director (appointed 24 March 2021)
Chief Executive Officer (appointed 15 March 2021)

Dr Gourlay has more than 30 years of experience in the development of novel therapeutics and brings considerable skills and experience to Actinogen as the Company moves into further clinical development of its lead compound Xanamem. Formerly the founding Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at US-based Principia Biopharma Inc., Dr Gourlay was responsible for the supervision of multiple pre-clinical, first-in-human, Phase 2 and 3 clinical trial programs in orphan immunological diseases, multiple sclerosis and cancer. The data generated by these trials, and Dr Gourlay’s roadshow presentations, supported a successful NASDAQ IPO of Principia Biopharma Inc. in 2018 – subsequently followed by an acquisition by Sanofi for US$3.7 billion in 2020.

Prior to Principia Biopharma, Dr Gourlay was a Partner at GBS Venture Partners, the Australian specialist life sciences and healthcare venture capital firm, where he contributed to the success of multiple clinical stage therapeutic companies including Elastagen, Spinifex and Peplin. Before GBS, and after a post doctorate in clinical pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco, he held positions of increasing responsibility at Genentech, Inc. in the areas of pharmacoepidemiology and early clinical development.

Dr Gourlay has significant drug regulatory experience with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) at many levels, including filing more than 10 Investigational New Drug (IND) applications, achieving several orphan drug status approvals for his Company’s product(s), and completing several biologics license applications.

Dr Gourlay is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the University of Melbourne, a PhD in Medicine from Monash University, an MBA from Macquarie University and is a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians (FRACP). He is also a specialist physician in general internal medicine.

Dr Gourlay has held no other ASX-listed directorships during the past three years.

View Dr Gourlay’s LinkedIn Profile

Peter Webse
(he/him)

Company Secretary

B.Bus, FGIA, FCPA, MAICD
Appointed 10 October 2013

Mr Webse joined Actinogen in 2013 and has over 27 years of company secretarial experience. He is the managing director of Platinum Corporate Secretariat Pty Ltd, a company specialising in providing company secretarial, corporate governance, and corporate advisory services. Mr Webse attended Edith Cowan University of Western Australia to obtain his degree in Accounting and Finance. He is a highly experienced CPA and is a Fellow of the CPA Australia (FCPA). He is also a Fellow of the Governance Institute of Australia (FGIA), a Fellow of the Chartered Governance Institute (GCI), and a Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (MAICD). Mr Webse is also a non-executive director of Cynata Therapeutics Limited.

View Peter’s LinkedIn Profile

Dr Steven Gourlay (he/him)

Managing Director
Chief Executive Officer

Dr Gourlay has more than 30 years of experience in the development of novel therapeutics and brings considerable skills and experience to Actinogen as the Company moves into further clinical development of its lead compound Xanamem. Formerly the founding Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at US-based Principia Biopharma Inc., Dr Gourlay was responsible for the supervision of multiple pre-clinical, first-in-human, Phase 2 and 3 clinical trial programs in orphan immunological diseases, multiple sclerosis and cancer. The data generated by these trials, and Dr Gourlay’s roadshow presentations, supported a successful NASDAQ IPO of Principia Biopharma Inc. in 2018 – subsequently followed by an acquisition by Sanofi for US$3.7 billion in 2020.

Prior to Principia Biopharma, Dr Gourlay was a Partner at GBS Venture Partners, the Australian specialist life sciences and healthcare venture capital firm, where he contributed to the success of multiple clinical stage therapeutic companies including Elastagen, Spinifex and Peplin. Before GBS, and after a post doctorate in clinical pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco, he held positions of increasing responsibility at Genentech, Inc. in the areas of pharmacoepidemiology and early clinical development.

Dr Gourlay has significant drug regulatory experience with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), European Medicines Agency (EMA) at many levels, including filing more than 10 Investigational New Drug (IND) applications, achieving several orphan drug status approvals for his Company’s product(s), and completing several biologics license applications.

Dr Gourlay is based in Sydney and holds a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) from the University of Melbourne, a PhD in Medicine from Monash University, an MBA from Macquarie University and is a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Physicians (FRACP). He is also a specialist physician in general internal medicine.

Dr Gourlay has held no other ASX-listed directorships during the past three years.

View Dr Gourlay’s LinkedIn Profile

Will Souter (he/him)

Chief Financial Officer

Mr Souter joined Actinogen as full time Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in February 2024. He has extensive experience in an executive and advisory capacity, particularly in capital markets and transaction environments using his commercial, legal, strategic and financial skills.

In his most recent role as CFO of Atomo Diagnostics Limited, Mr Souter’s leadership functions included contributing to a successful capital raising and initial public offering (IPO), board advisor, managing the finance and investor relations functions, and providing critical guidance on a range of corporate operations.

Mr Souter is also an experienced non-executive director having held numerous listed and unlisted positions. Previously, Mr Souter was the CFO  and Board Advisor at Verton Technologies Australia, an Executive Director at RFC Ambrian, and Director in the Deals team at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Mr Souter has a Bachelor of Laws and Commerce from the University of Adelaide, is a Graduate Member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice (admitted to the Supreme Court of NSW).

View Mr Souter’s LinkedIn profile

Dr Dana C. Hilt

Chief Medical Officer

Dr Dana C. Hilt MD has more than 25 years of drug development experience, primarily of Central Nervous System (CNS) drugs. Dr Hilt has extensive experience in Phases 1 to 4 development of drugs for conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and other non-CNS conditions including CNS malignancies.

Dr Hilt was most recently the Chief Medical Officer at Frequency Therapeutics and has held senior development and management positions as Chief Medical Officer at several pharmaceutical companies, including Lysosomal Therapeutics, Guilford Pharmaceuticals, Ascend Pharmaceuticals, and Critical Therapeutics, Prior to that, Dr Hilt worked with Amgen, establishing a Clinical Neuroscience Group that focused on the potential therapeutic applications of neurotrophic factors in degenerative neurologic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Hilt gained his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and trained in Internal Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Neurology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has held academic Neurology positions at the University of Maryland and University of Southern California where he conducted molecular biological research, taught clinical Neurology and basic neurobiology, and cared for patients with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS.

Cheryl Townsend

VP Clinical Operations

Ms Townsend joined Actinogen in March 2022 and brings 30 years of international clinical research experience to the Company, including senior positions in clinical operations and medical affairs in pharmaceutical companies and clinical research organisations. Ms Townsend has worked across many therapeutic spheres ranging from Phase 1 through Phase 4 trials, including 10 years working in rare diseases. Most recently Ms Townsend held increasingly senior positions in clinical operations at Alexion Pharmaceuticals Australasia.

Ms Townsend is a registered nurse with post graduate degrees in Nursing and Clinical Research as well as a Master’s degree in Health Law. As part of the Actinogen team, Ms Townsend is responsible for Actinogen’s clinical operations and the successful delivery of the company’s clinical trial program.

Michael Roberts (he/him)

Investor Relations

Michael Roberts joined Actinogen in May 2021 and is a corporate communications specialist with more than 25 years’ experience working with prominent ASX 50 Australian companies including Brambles, Lion Nathan and Foster’s Group. Mr Roberts also provides investor relations and  corporate communications consulting services at Trinity Communications.

Michael built his early career in finance and treasury before moving into corporate communications, with specialist senior executive roles in investor relations and corporate affairs. Prior to joining Actinogen, Michael was the Investor Communications Director at Sydney design and branding agency Designate Group where he provided advisory and consulting services to clients from a broad range of ASX listed companies and industries.

Michael holds a Bachelor of Economics (Hons) from Monash University and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance & Investment from the Financial Services Institute of Australasia. Mr Roberts is a Certified Practising Accountant (CPA) and a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (FFin).

As part of the Actinogen Leadership Team, Michael heads the Company’s investor relations and corporate communications function.

Fujun Li (she/her)

Head of Manufacturing

Fujun Li, Ph.D. has over 30 years of experience in development of chemistry, manufacturing, and controls (CMC) activities from early to late phase and management of contract manufacturing organization for drug substance and drug product manufacturing. She also has extensive experience in regulatory CMC and preparations of CMC dossiers for regulatory submissions. Dr. Li was most recently the Vice President of Analytical and Pharmaceutical Development at Principia Biopharma (a Sanofi Company). Prior to this she had multiple CMC leadership roles in large and small pharmaceutical companies, including Executive Director at XenoPort and Research Leader at Roche. Dr. Li holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Medicine from New York University, Master of Science in Analytical Chemistry from Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Beijing University

Prof Craig Ritchie (Chair)

Professor Ritchie is a world-leading authority on dementia and has been a senior investigator on more than 30 drug trials of both disease-modifying and symptomatic agents for the condition. Professor Ritchie is leading the PREVENT project to identify mid-life risks for dementia, and the European Prevention of Alzheimer’s Dementia (EPAD) Consortium, to understand early aspects of Alzheimer’s disease before dementia develops.

Professor Ritchie has extensive knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry, having sat on advisory boards of numerous pharmaceutical companies, biotechnology companies, and clinical research organizations, all with an interest in developing drugs and clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Ritchie is the Chair of the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium, Professor of the Psychiatry of Ageing and Director of the Centre for Dementia Prevention at the University of Edinburgh, Associate Director of the Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Facility and Co Coordinator at IMI-EPAD.

Prof Colin Masters AO

Professor Masters’ research career in Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases spans over 35 years. He is widely acknowledged as a major worldwide influencer on Alzheimer’s disease research and our understanding of what causes the disease. More recently, his focus has been on describing the natural history of Alzheimer’s disease as a necessary step for therapeutic intervention.

Professor Masters is a driving force behind the Australian Imaging, Biomarkers & Lifestyle (AIBL) study to determine which biomarkers, cognitive characteristics, and health and lifestyle factors determine subsequent development of Alzheimer’s.

Professor Masters is the Laureate Professor of Dementia Research and Head, Neurodegeneration Division at The Florey Institute, The University of Melbourne and a consultant at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Prof Jeffrey Cummings

Professor Cummings is a world-renowned Alzheimer’s researcher and leader of clinical trials. He has been recognized for his research and leadership contributions in the field of Alzheimer’s disease through the Henderson Award of the American Geriatrics Society (2006), the Ronald and Nancy Reagan Research Award of the national Alzheimer’s Association (2008), and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Society for Behavioural and Cognitive Neurology (2017). In 2010, he was honoured by the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry with their Distinguished Scientist Award. In 2018, he was honoured with the Leadership and Achievement Award by the International Society of CNS Drug Development, and he received the Bengt Winblad Lifetime Achievement Award from the national Alzheimer’s Association. In 2019, the International Psychogeriatric Association awarded him with the Distinguished Service Award and he received the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation’s Melvin R. Goodes Prize that honours an innovative researcher who has made a significant and lasting impact in the field.

Professor Cummings’ interests embrace clinical trials, developing new therapies for brain diseases, and the interface of neuroscience and society.

Professor Cummings has authored or edited 43 books and published over 750 peer-reviewed papers.

Jeffrey L. Cummings, MD, ScD, is Vice Chair of Research, UNLV Department of Brain Health. He is Founding Director of the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Professor of Medicine (Neurology), Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University. Dr. Cummings is Principal Investigator/Director of the NIH/NIGMS-funded Center for Neurodegeneration and Translational Neuroscience.

Dr Elizabeth Berry-Kravis

Dr Elizabeth Berry-Kravis, MD, PhD established the Fragile X Clinic and Research Program at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago in 1992, through which she provides care to over 700 patients with fragile X syndrome (FXS). Dr Berry-Kravis has done extensive work in FXS and has expanded clinical translational work to other neurodevelopmental disorders and genetic neurodegenerative diseases including autism spectrum disorders. Her laboratory studies cellular roles of fragile X mental retardation protein (FMRP), relationship to phenotypes, and optimization of genetic testing methods.

Dr Berry-Kravis is a Professor of Pediatrics, Neurological Sciences, and Biochemistry at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. She has studied medical issues, epilepsy and psychopharmacology in FXS, and has been a leader in translational research in FXS including development of outcome measures/biomarkers, natural history studies, newborn screening, and particularly clinical trials of new targeted treatments. Dr Berry-Kravis has over 250 publications on genetic neurological diseases and is on several Advisory/Review Boards including those for the FRAXA Research Foundation and the National Fragile X Foundation (USA).

Dr Berry-Kravis attended the University of Notre Dame for undergraduate studies and the University of Chicago for her MD/PhD and training in Paediatric Neurology. Dr Berry-Kravis has received numerous awards and recognition for her work including the FRAXA Champion Award, the American Academy of Neurology Sidney Carter Award in Child Neurology, the FRAXA Ingenuity Award, and the Child Neurology Society Denckla Award for her work in treatment translation for FXS and genetic cognitive disorders.

Dr Pamela Ventola

Dr Pam Ventola, PhD has conducted evaluations of children and adults with developmental disabilities for two decades and has supported numerous international trials in developmental disabilities that involve developmental, cognitive, motor, and behavioural assessments.

Dr Ventola is an Associate Professor at the Yale Child Study Center and leads Cogstate’s Rare Disease and Paediatric Center of Excellence and has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for over twenty years. She has more than 100 related publications, conference presentations, invited addresses, and book chapters, and has published a book on diagnostic assessment. Dr Ventola also serves on advisory panels and academic review committees and has extensive clinical and research experience with paediatric neuropsychological and developmental assessments as well as the Cogstate computerized cognitive testing battery.

Dr. Ventola attended Hamilton College for her undergraduate degree and the University of Connecticut, under the mentorship of Dr. Deborah Fein, for her doctoral degree. She completed her clinical training and post-doctoral fellowship at the Yale Child Study Center.

Prof John Harrison

Professor John Harrison is an expert psychologist with a special interest in cognition whose principal professional interest is in helping people understand, maintain, and enhance their cognitive skills.

Professor Harrison is Principal Consultant at Metis Cognition, a psychology practice established to advise with the selection and successful integration of cognitive testing into therapeutic development programs. He is also an Associate Professor with the AUmc Alzheimer Center and Visiting Professor at King’s College London. Professor Harrison holds Chartered Psychologist status and has authored/co-authored more than 80 books and scientific articles, including a popular neuroscience book ‘Synaesthesia: The Strangest Thing’.

After acquiring a first-class honours degree in psychology Professor Harrison earned his first PhD from the University of London science faculty. He has held research posts at various UK institutions, including Charing Cross & Westminster Medical School, Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge.

Dr Dana C. Hilt

Dr Dana C. Hilt MD has more than 25 years of drug development experience, primarily of Central Nervous System (CNS) drugs. Dr Hilt has extensive experience in Phases 1 to 4 development of drugs for conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and other non-CNS conditions including CNS malignancies.

Dr Hilt was most recently the Chief Medical Officer at Frequency Therapeutics and has held senior development and management positions as Chief Medical Officer at several pharmaceutical companies, including Lysosomal Therapeutics, Guilford Pharmaceuticals, Ascend Pharmaceuticals, and Critical Therapeutics, Prior to that, Dr Hilt worked with Amgen, establishing a Clinical Neuroscience Group that focused on the potential therapeutic applications of neurotrophic factors in degenerative neurologic diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.

Dr Hilt gained his medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and trained in Internal Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Neurology at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. He has held academic Neurology positions at the University of Maryland and University of Southern California where he conducted molecular biological research, taught clinical Neurology and basic neurobiology, and cared for patients with neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and ALS.

Dr Christina Kurre Olsen

Christina Kurre Olsen, PhD has more than 20 years of research expertise in neuroscience, neuropsychopharmacology, CNS therapeutics and monoclonal antibody immunotherapy spanning broadly as a research scientist in drug discovery and currently as medical director in clinical development.

Dr Kurre Olsen has strong hands-on knowledge across the value chain from discovery, development and approval of innovative medicines with a passion for cognition. As a clinical lead, Dr Kurre Olsen had an instrumental role in driving and implementing the strategy for moving a late-stage program towards targeting cognitive dysfunction in depression. She recently moved to biotech within clinical research of lysosomal storage diseases and expanding her expertise to rare disorders.

Dr Kurre Olsen has in depth insights in regulatory interactions and a special interest in multidisciplinary strategies enabling innovative research with the end goal of regulatory approval and market access.

A/Prof Christopher Chen

Dr Christopher Chen is a Senior Clinician-Scientist, Associate Professor at the Departments of Pharmacology and Psychological Medicine, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, and Director of the Memory Aging and Cognition Centre, National University Healthcare System.

His pre-clinical studies were at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge University, and his clinical training was at New College, University of Oxford. He was elected the Janssen Junior Research Fellow at Worcester College, University of Oxford and was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of Neurology, London.

Since returning to Singapore, Dr Chen has developed multi-disciplinary research programmes with extensive international collaborations. His major research and clinical interests are in neuroimaging, molecular biology and treatment of stroke and dementia. He has published over 475 peer reviewed papers, is the PI for several clinical trials with cognitive outcomes (ESPRIT-Cog, VITATOPS-Cog, CHIMES, NEURITES and ATHENE) serves on journal editorial boards and has been a member of trial steering committees and advisory panels.

In 2021, Dr Chen was awarded the Singapore Translational Research Investigator Award which is a prestigious award offered by the Singapore Ministry of Health’s National Medical Research Council to recognise and support internationally renowned and outstanding investigators in Translational and Clinical Research.

Currently, he is President of the Asian Society Against Dementia, Secretary-Treasurer of the Asian & Oceanian Association of Neurology and past-chair of the International Society for Vascular Behavioural and Cognitive Disorders.

Prof Brian R Walker

Professor Walker’s prolific research over 20 years has concerned the role of glucocorticoids in metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. He published the original description of 11β-HSD1’s role in amplifying glucocorticoid action, identifying this enzyme as a prime therapeutic target. He has extensive experience collaborating with and advising pharmaceutical research and development.

In 2017, Brian was appointed as Pro Vice Chancellor for Research Strategy & Resources at Newcastle University, UK. He continues his research on glucocorticoids with colleagues at University of Edinburgh.

Prof Scott Webster

Professor Scott Webster is Chair of Medicines at the Centre of Cardiovascular Science, University of Edinburgh. During his career, he has held positions in both biotech and academia. For more than a decade, he has specialised in translational research within academia focusing on discovering and developing small molecules as medicines for the treatment of diverse conditions including Alzheimer’s disease, multiple organ failure, fibrotic disease and Multiple Sclerosis. His research has led to the discovery of a number of potent small molecule modulators of target enzymes and receptors, including UE2343/XanamemTM.

He has worked across therapeutic areas and has expertise spanning protein biochemistry, pharmacology and medicinal chemistry. During his time in academia he has worked collaboratively with a number of pharmaceutical companies including GSK, AstraZeneca and Sanofi. Prof Webster is Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Kynos Therapeutics, which is developing therapies for systemic inflammation and multiple organ failure.

Prof Jonathan Seckl

Professor Jonathan Seckl is currently Senior Vice Principal at the University of Edinburgh.

Professor Seckl is an academic endocrinologist (MBBS UCL, PhD London). His main research contribution has been in clarifying the biology and importance of glucocorticoid (stress) hormones during foetal life in ‘programming’ the risk of later disease, notably isolating and proposing the key role of the glucocorticoid ‘barrier’ enzyme 11ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 2 in placenta. He provided an ‘epigenetic’ explanation of how early life events can hardwire the body and brain for life. His group’s work on liquorice in pregnancy impacted on public health policy in Scandinavia.

Professor Seckl and colleagues, Professor Brian Walker and Professor Scott Webster, discovered that a previously obscure enzyme, 11ß-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase type 1 (11ß-HSD1), unexpectedly functions to regenerate active glucocorticoids in brain and the periphery, amplifying intracellular action. The group discovered increased expression of 11β-HSD1 in brain with ageing and showed this causes cognitive impairments with age. Similarly, they found increased 11β-HSD1 expression in adipose tissue with obesity and showed this produces metabolic syndrome. Professor Seckl and colleagues proposed that inhibition/deletion of 11β-HSD1 may be of utility in metabolic syndrome and age-related cognitive impairments, a concept they established in preclinical and experimental human studies and now in successful phase 2 trials.

Among his many achievements in Edinburgh, Professor Seckl set up and led the interdisciplinary Molecular Medicine Centre, initiated and led the Centre for the Study of the Ageing Brain, was inaugural Head of the School of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, and Executive Dean as well as Director of Research for the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

Professor Seckl has also chaired panels for the Medical Research Council (UK), Innovate UK and the Wellcome Trust.  He has been elected to the Councils of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Society for Endocrinology and was awarded an OBE in the New Year’s Honours list in 2019 for services to endocrinology and clinical science.


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