Who we are

Team Members Board Members Scientific Advisory Board Advisors

Team Members

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Chris Burns

Senior Vice President of Research and Development; Chief Commercial Officer

Chris has worked for over 25 years in drug discovery and development in both commercial and academic settings. He has extensive experience in early stage and translational drug discovery and is an inventor on over 30 patents and co-author of over 60 scientific papers. Chris was the lead inventor of the drug momelotinib which is currently undergoing Phase III trials.


Chris has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Melbourne and undertook postdoctoral studies at Penn State University. He subsequently worked at Pfizer UK and with Australian biotech Ambri, prior to becoming Research Director at Melbourne-based biotech company Cytopia. Chris has held academic positions at the University of Sydney and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research in Melbourne and was most recently CEO and Research Director at biotech Metabloq Pharmaceuticals. In addition to his role at MycRx, Dr Burns has executive positions at biotechs Certa Therapeutics and OccuRx, and is also a founder and board member of ASX-listed company Amplia Therapeutics.

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Richard Foitzik

Director of Medicinal Chemistry

Richard leads a multidisciplinary team dedicated to the design, synthesis and testing of small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of cancer. He has over 10 years’ industry experience in medicinal chemistry and management, with experience spanning project phases from Hit Identification through to Late Lead Optimisation and Safety and Toxicology profiling. Richard is a key inventor for 2 small molecule inhibitors for different targets, currently undergoing Phase I clinical trials.


Richard has a PhD in Organic Chemistry/Engineering obtained by an industry scholarship through Deakin University. Prior to joining MycRx in 2016, Richard was Group Leader at the Cancer Therapeutics Cooperative Research Centre and is an inventor on cancer programs separately licensed to Merck and Pfizer.

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Sangkyu Kim

Head of Biology

Sangkyu brings over 8 years of cancer research training and expertise, specialising in the preclinical characterisation of small molecule oncology therapeutics. His research training focused on the molecular characterization of JAK kinase inhibitors, publishing scientific articles in high-impact international journals. Sangkyu has since held positions at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute and CSIRO, where he gained extensive experience in drug development whilst overseeing the collaborative research program between CSIRO and MycRx. In 2020, Sangkyu transitioned to the MycRx head office to lead the company’s biological R&D program.


Sangkyu has a first-class Honours B. Biomedicine degree in Pharmacology, a PhD in Medicine (Cancer Therapeutics) from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute; University of Melbourne, is a participant in the 2020 MTPConnect Bridge Program, and recipient of the Bridge Industry Fellowship Award

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Alison Thistlethwaite

Operations Manager

Alison joined MycRx in April 2020 and brings project management expertise and over 15 years of experience in lead optimisation of small molecule therapeutics to treat cancer and neglected diseases including malaria. Prior to working at MycRx she held both project and scientific management roles at the Centre for Drug Candidate Optimisation (CDCO, Monash University) where she oversaw the physicochemical and metabolic evaluation of candidate molecules from hit to lead and lead optimisation programs and also contributed expertise to formulation and platform automation. Early in her career Alison also worked as an industrial chemist for Caltex Australia and for a start-up biotech working on synthetic scale-up of small molecule APIs.


Alison holds undergraduate degrees and a PhD (organic chemistry) from the Queensland University of Technology and also a Masters of Medical Science (Drug Development) from the University of New South Wales.

Board Members

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Christopher Smith

Director

Chris is a Senior Investment Manager at Brandon Capital Partners, where he has worked for 8 years. Before this Chris was a Business Development Manager with CSL, Australia’s largest pharmaceutical company and one of the top 10 biotechnology companies in the world. At CSL Chris was responsible for identifying and reviewing opportunities for CSL’s global R&D pipeline. As a consequence Chris has extensive experience with both in-licensing and out-licensing therapeutic drugs and R&D enabling platforms. Earlier Chris spent three years as a postdoctoral scientist at The University of Cambridge, UK. Chris is currently also a director of; Aravax, Denteric, Ena Therapeutics, Okogen and Q-Sera.


Chris has a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from The University of Melbourne, a PhD in Immunology conducted at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute, and an MBA, specialising in innovation and entrepreneurship, from the University of Cambridge. Chris is a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

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Stephen Thompson

Director

Stephen is a founding partner of Brandon Capital Partners. Before moving to Australia, Stephen was a Director of Apax Partners based in London. Previously, he fulfilled roles in product development with UK biotechnology company Cantab Pharmaceuticals. Earlier, Stephen spent ten years as a research immunologist in London and California.


Stephen is currently a director of; Longas Technologies, OncoRes Medical, Respirion Pharmaceuticals, Myricx Pharma and Vaxxas. Stephen was a former director of Elastagen, (acquired by Allergan in 2018).

Stephen has a Bachelor of Science (Honours) from Chelsea College London, a PhD in Immunology from Kings College London and an MBA, specialising in Entrepreneurship, from Imperial College London. Stephen is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and a former director of the Australian Investment Council (AIC).

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Peter Smith

Director

Pete has over 30 years of experience in a broad range of activities in the healthcare industry with a strong focus on therapeutics, especially oncology. He has been involved in projects at all stages from concept to phase III clinical studies. Currently the CEO of Affinity BioSciences, Pete was formerly the CEO of publicly listed Australian companies Alchemia and AMRAD.


Prior to moving to Australia, Pete co-founded and was CFO of Onyvax Ltd, a cancer immuno-therapy company based in London. At the start of his career, he was a top-rated Pharmaceuticals Analyst with UBS and HSBC and was involved in numerous transactions including IPOs, fundraisings and M&A. His undergraduate degree and PhD are from the University of Cambridge, the latter in the field of cell-signalling. He is currently also a Director of Affinity Biosciences, Fitgenes and Amala Therapeutics.

Scientific Advisory Board

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Ricky Johnstone

Ricky is the Executive Director of Cancer Research at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre and Head, The Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology at the University of Melbourne. He is a cancer researcher who has utilized genetic mouse models of hemopoietic malignancies and solid tumors to understand the epigenetic changes that underpin tumor onset and progression and to develop new therapies that target epigenetic and transcriptional regulatory proteins.


Ricky received his PhD from the University of Melbourne in 1993 and after a postdoc at Harvard Medical School returned to Melbourne to establish the Gene Regulation Laboratory at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in 2000. He has published more than 240 peer-reviewed papers, was awarded an NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellowship in 2015 and in 2011 was promoted to Full Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Melbourne.

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Alan Naylor

Alan is an independent Drug Discovery consultant and a Medicinal chemist with over 30 years’ experience in Research and Development within GlaxoSmithKline. Most recently, as an independent consultant, he has been engaged in providing scientific and strategic advice and analysis to major pharma, biotechnology companies, academic groups, capital investment companies and funding bodies on a variety of issues within the drug discovery and healthcare sector.


Previously he held the position of Vice President and Director of Medicinal Chemistry within the GSK Drug Discovery organisation. Alan has led strategic, matrix and line management functions with significant international responsibilities. He has an extensive track record of delivery, across a wide range of therapeutic areas, having played a major role in the discovery of over 30 development compounds, and is a co-inventor of Serevent, a major advance in the treatment of asthma. Extensive academic interactions have resulted in him being appointed to two visiting chairs at the universities of Reading and Sussex.

Alan has a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree from the University of Liverpool and PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Liverpool.

Advisors

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Bruno Amati

Bruno is a cancer biologist who has devoted much of his career to understanding the role of Myc in tumourigenesis. His landmark publications in Nature, Cell and EMBO Journal showed that transcriptional activation by the human c-Myc oncoprotein requires interaction with Max, and advanced the search for new cancer therapeutics based on inhibiting Myc activity. He has authored 90+ peer-reviewed scientific papers and is a recognised leader in the field of Myc-regulated transcription.


Bruni received his PhD from the Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) and the University of Lausanne following undergraduate and Master’s studies at the University of Geneva. His Post-doctoral, Associate Scientist and Research Fellow positions include appointments at Imperial Cancer Research Fund (ICRF), Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research (ISREC) and DNAX (a subsidiary of Schering-Plough Corp.), Palo Alto (CA). In 2003, joined the European Institute of Oncology (IEO) in Milan, Italy, where he currently works as Division Director.

Between 2011 and 2017, Dr Amati held a joint appointment as Director of the Center for Genomic Science of IIT@SEMM, an outstation of the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) sited in IEO’s premises in Milan. Since 2018, he has been Director of the European School of Molecular Medicine (SEMM).

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Nick Glover

Nick is a strategic and operational consultant to the biotechnology and life sciences industry.  He has served as a Director of MEI Pharma (NASDAQ: MEIP) since 2013. Nick previously served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Sierra Oncology (NASDAQ: SRRA), a drug development company focused on advancing targeted therapeutics for the treatment of patients with cancer, from 2014 through 2020.


Prior to joining Sierra, he served as President and Chief Executive Officer of YM BioSciences, an oncology drug development company, from 2010 until its acquisition by Gilead Sciences for $510 million in 2013. Previously, Nick was President and Chief Executive Officer of Viventia Biotech, a biopharmaceutical company involved in the discovery and development of monoclonal antibody-based technologies for the treatment of cancer, which he joined after serving as an investment manager for MDS Capital, a life sciences venture capital firm.

Nick holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Chemistry from the University of East Anglia, U.K., a M.Sc. in Chemistry from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Simon Fraser University, Canada.

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Jason Lickliter

Jason is the Chief Medical Officer of Nucleus Network, an early-phase clinical trials organization with clinical units in Melbourne, Brisbane and Minneapolis.

Jason trained as a medical oncologist at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and University of Minnesota Medical Centre and has over 20 years of experience working as an investigator on phase 1 oncology patient trials, including multiple first-in-human studies. Since joining Nucleus Network in 2012, he has led an expanding team of Principal Investigators who are responsible for safe study conduct and the generation of high-quality clinical data from healthy-volunteer and patient phase 1 clinical trials.


Jason graduated with a medical degree from the University of Queensland. During subspecialty training, he completed PhD studies in Eph-receptor biology at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research and postdoctoral studies in translational immuno-oncology at the University of Minnesota.

Jason has extensive experience in the design and implementation of phase 1 study protocols for both oncology patient studies and clinical pharmacology trials, including the integration of pharmacodynamic biomarkers and advanced imaging into clinical research.

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Neil Miller

Neil has spent close to 25 years working in the Pharma & Biotech industry and is co-founder and CEO of NRG Therapeutics Ltd, a company developing novel treatments for degenerative diseases that rectify mitochondrial dysfunction. He also acts as an independent consultant providing scientific, strategic and commercialisation advice to clients in the life sciences sector.


Neil received his BSc (Chemistry with Pharmacology) and PhD (Organic Synthesis) from the University of Liverpool in the UK before undertaking post-doctoral studies at the Scripps Research Institute in California, USA. Neil then joined GlaxoSmithKline in 1997 as a medicinal chemist, going on to lead drug discovery teams delivering small molecule development candidates. During his career with GSK, Neil spent time as site head at a new neuroscience R&D unit in Singapore, building a pipeline of pre-clinical and early clinical assets for the treatment of motor neuron disease and Huntington’s disease. In 2015, Neil joined Auspherix Ltd, an early stage biotech developing a novel antibiotic for the treatment of Gram-negative multi-drug resistant infections, initially as CSO and subsequently as CEO.

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Richard Rutter

Richard is an experienced pharmacologist and drug discovery biologist having spent 20 years in the pharma and biotech industries. As Director of Biology at the GlaxoSmithKline Neurodegeneration Research Unit in Singapore, he was a member of the R&D leadership team managing a portfolio of preclinical programs from early target identification through to candidate nomination. More recently Richard was CSO at Auspherix Ltd, an early stage biotech developing a novel class of antibiotic. In 2018, he co-founded NRG Therapeutics Ltd which is developing small molecule modulators of mitochondrial function for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.


Richard studied Physiological Sciences at the University of Oxford before completing a PhD in molecular neuroscience at University College London.

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Roberto Solari

Roberto is currently a Visiting Professor at the National Heart and Lung Institute at Imperial College London. Previously, he was Vice President and head of Biology in the respiratory therapy area at GlaxoSmithKline, UK. He spent 4 years as CEO of MRCT, the technology transfer arm of the MRC, where he helped the creation of spinout companies including Heptares. Before this he was an Advisor to Apax Partners, London and an Entrepreneur in Residence with Abingworth Management where he co-founded a number of companies including Astex Pharmaceuticals. Earlier he carried out research at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland and the University of Liverpool, UK. He is currently also an advisor to Cincera Therapeutics, Ena Therapeutics and Wolf Biotherapeutics.


Roberto has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Nottingham and a PhD from the University of Nottingham.

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Neil Thompson

Over the last 30+ years, Neil’s career has seen him progress more than 10 drugs to patients and he’s led a number of drug discovery projects in areas of cardiovascular, neurology, inflammation and oncology among others.

For 15 years, Neil was Senior Vice President of Biology at Astex Pharmaceuticals, helping the company establish itself at the forefront of drug discovery by leading the biology and pre-clinical teams to deliver two new cancer drugs (Kisqali; ribociclib and Balversa; erdafitinib in partnership with Novartis and Janssen respectively) to market. Before that, he was Director of the Immunology Platform at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).


Neil is also Deputy Chair of the UK MRC DPFS panel and Chair of the MRC CLD/ADI committee, has authored more than 40 publications and patents and sits on the advisory boards of several scientific institutions in the UK.

Neil received his doctorate in Biochemistry from King’s College London