We’ve established a team of industry experts with diverse backgrounds in our major therapeutic areas (oncology, CNS, CV/met, and respiratory & inflammation) whose sole purpose is to innovate and consult on our partnered discovery programs, maintain an acute awareness of project goals and hurdles, and work together with our multi-disciplinary project teams to proactively solve problems related to those projects. The Integrated Drug Discovery (IDD) team consists of chemists, biologists, pharmacologists, and toxicologists, all with extensive industry experience in delivering development candidates for partners, and each with a vested interest in our partners’ success.
John Montana, PhD, Corporate Vice President, Integrated Drug Development and Strategic Projects
In his current role, John oversees all aspects of partnered integrated drug discovery projects, ensuring their scientific progression from early business development discussions through to established relationships that deliver quality clinical candidates for our partners. He took his current role following Charles River’s acquisition of Argenta and Biofocus in 2014.
At Argenta, he had been Managing Director, with overall responsibility for all aspects of the business as part of the Galapagos Services group. Previously, John was Director of Research at Chiroscience, where he was instrumental in establishing their research strategy that delivered six development compounds in the same number of years. Following the merger of Chiroscience and Celltech, he became Director of NCE Research with overall responsibility for the company's small molecule portfolio, comprising 20 projects at various stages of research, from target validation to clinical trials.
Dr. Montana is a member of the Royal Society of Chemistry; his research has appeared in excess of 150 peer-reviewed papers and patents.
Martin O’Rourke, PhD, Senior Director, Oncology In Vitro Biosciences, Integrated Drug Discovery
Martin has been working in oncology drug discovery for the last 13 years with experience in academia, biotech, and CROs. His initial postdoctoral research focus was in vitro and in vivo models of angiogenesis within the drug discovery group at Queen’s University, Belfast. The establishment of this platform led to the discovery of the endogenous protein FKBPL, ultimately identifying a derived peptide as a potent anti-angiogenic agent in prostate cancer models. This asset was out-licensed to Almac Group in 2006, who continued funding his research until 2008, when the work was internalized by Almac Discovery, whom he subsequently joined. As project lead for the ALM-201 project, he was responsible for translation of the compound from preclinical research to the clinic.
Dr. O’Rourke joined Charles River as a group leader where his work involved preparing proposals and piloting oncology projects across all aspects of drug discovery from target validation to candidate nomination. After becoming director of his department, he took a short leave to serve as Head of Biology with Kesios Therapeutics in 2016, leading their clinical candidate back-up project. He returned to Charles River to join the Integrated Drug Discovery team in January 2017.
Dr. O’Rourke is a member of the Irish Association of Cancer Research, and American Association of Cancer Research. His research has appeared in 21 peer-reviewed papers and has yielded 6 patents.
Robert Hodgson, PhD, Director In Vivo CNS, Integrated Drug Discovery
“Sandy” specializes in behavioral pharmacology, PK/PD and in vitro-in vivo correlations, microdialysis and electrophysiology. Over the past 15 years, Sandy has been immersed in CNS drug discovery and is passionate about the advancement of novel therapies to treat the significant unmet need in CNS diseases.
Prior to Charles River, he worked in large pharma at Schering-Plough and Merck, leading and contributing to CNS drug discovery programs, primarily in the areas of psychiatry and neurology. During that time, his team was the primary driver of in vivo rodent and large animal models that would provide the core data to support the advancement of novel therapies toward clinical studies. As a member of the clinical team for one of his preclinical programs that advanced to Phase III clinical trials, he gained insight into the full breadth of the drug discovery and development pipeline from target identification though to Phase III.
Dr. Hodgson has been a member of the Society of Neuroscience as well as a grant reviewer for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. His research has yielded 40 peer-reviewed papers.
Alan Young, PhD, Senior Director, In Vivo Respiratory and Inflammation, Integrated Drug Discovery
Alan is a pharmacologist who has worked in respiratory research for over 25 years, exclusively within the pharmaceutical industry.
Prior to Charles River, he was both Discovery Director for Early Development and Head of Respiratory Disease Sciences at AstraZeneca, where he was responsible for progressing compounds into Phase IIB clinical studies. In these roles, he led multiple respiratory-based projects, and delivered more than 20 candidate drugs into clinical development. He later became the Business Development Manager for Argenta, an IDD CRO, which was purchased by Charles River in 2014. Prior to accepting his current position, he advised the company’s many partners on compound discovery and development.
Dr. Young’s honors include the Edgar Allen Fellowship from the University of Sheffield. His research has resulted in over 200 peer-reviewed papers and presentations.
Peter Lockey, PhD, Director, In Vitro Respiratory and Inflammation, Integrated Drug Discovery
Peter is a biochemist/molecular pharmacologist with more than 29 years of industry drug discovery experience. In addition to leading the cardiovascular and inflammation departments at Aventis for 12 years, he also established and headed the company’s high-throughput screening department in the UK.
In 2000, he and a group of scientists founded Argenta, an integrated drug discovery CRO, which was acquired by Charles River in 2014. As Director of Biology, he expanded the department’s drug discovery capabilities to support integrated projects from target validation, through to development of clinical biomarkers. He has worked on projects across a range of disease areas, including oncology, CNS, cardiovascular, inflammation, respiratory, and metabolic disease. These projects have delivered numerous development candidates, some of which are now in Phase II clinical trials.
Dr. Lockey has 38 peer-reviewed scientific publications, and 1 patent.
Joseph Cornicelli, PhD, Director, In Vivo CV and Metabolic Diseases, Integrated Drug Discovery
Joe oversees the design, execution, and analysis of studies to assess therapeutic efficacy in animal models of disease. His department offers models of acute and chronic diabetes, dyslipidemia, and atherosclerosis.
Prior to joining Charles River, he was a research fellow at Warner-Lambert/Pfizer for more than 22 years. During his tenure, he led numerous discovery teams and served, on the atorvastatin (Lipitor) development team. He also led the in vivo effort for the registration of troglitazone, the first PPAR-γ agonist approved for the treatment of type II diabetes.
Dr. Cornicelli is a Fellow of the American Heart Association, and serves as a reviewer for various journals. His research has appeared in over 40 peer-reviewed papers and yielded 4 patents.