MecRx operates with a small, agile team, managing global operations from our Melbourne office. Research operations are conducted across a range of world-class laboratories, providing the data needed to target Myc.
BSc(Hons) PhD MBA
Chief Executive Officer
Christopher has 20+ years experience in early-stage pharmaceutical R&D and commercialisation in listed public and VC-backed private companies.
He was CEO at Otifex Therapeutics, completing the sale of key assets to a NASDAQ-listed pharmaceutical company in 2017. As Research Director and technology founder at ASX-listed Antisense Therapeutics Ltd, he led programmes addressing multiple therapeutic targets and diseases including cancer, inflammatory disease and acromegaly (atesidorsen) and was part of the team that out-licensed a Phase II MS asset to Teva Pharmaceutical.
Christopher has a BSc(Hons) and PhD in Biochemistry from La Trobe University, an MBA specialising in Technology Management from Chifley Business School, and was Guest Scientist and Humboldt Fellow at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) in Heidelberg. In 2008 he received the Advance/Merck BioBusiness Award for leadership in the Australian Life Sciences industry.
BSc(Hons) PhD GAICD
Chief Commercial Officer
Chris is an experienced pharmaceutical executive with 25 years' experience in pharma, biotech and academia.
Chris began his career as a medicinal chemist at Pfizer UK, and after returning to Australia, was appointed Head of Chemistry, and then Research Director, at Cytopia Ltd. He led the discovery of two anticancer drugs that entered clinical trials, including the JAK1/2 inhibitor momelotinib. Cytopia was acquired by YM Biosciences and then Gilead Sciences, where he was Chief Scientific Adviser and R&D Scientific Adviser (YM Transition) respectively. Chris subsequently joined Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute first as a Laboratory Head and then as Business Development Manager.
Chris has a PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Melbourne and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Director of Medicinal Chemistry
Richard is a published chemistry professional with 10+ years industry experience in medicinal chemistry and management. His medicinal chemistry experience spans Hit Identification through Late Lead Optimisation and Safety Toxicology profiling.
At MecRx Richard leads a multidisciplinary team dedicated to the design, synthesis and testing of small molecule inhibitors for the treatment of cancer.
Prior to joining MecRx in 2016, Richard was Group Leader at the Cancer Therapeutic Cooperative Research Centre and Key Inventor on both the PRMT5 inhibitor which was licensed to Merck in a deal worth up to $750 million and another cancer programme which was licensed to Pfizer in a deal worth up to $648 million.
Richard received a Bachelor of Chemical Science with Honours and an industry funded PhD from Deakin University in 2006.
Dr Foitzik was the recipient of numerous awards and scholarships during his PhD and was overall awarded the Best Higher Degree Researcher Student by the Faculty of Science and Technology at Deakin.
BSc(Hons) PhD FAAHMS
Professor Ricky Johnstone 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.
Ricky is Executive Director Cancer Research at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, overseeing ~450 staff and students, and he plays a key role in strategic decision making across the organisation. He has published more than 200 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, where he is also Head of the Sir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology.
Ricky 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. Prof Johnstone has recently discovered how epigenetic based-agents can engage the host immune system to drive prolonged therapeutic responses.
Roberto’s career has been focused at the interface of innovation and entrepreneurship, including technology transfer, venture capital, pharma, biotech and academia. He is currently working at the National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London, on the mechanisms of Rhinovirus replication. He is also an advisor to Imperial Innovations and Brandon Capital, and is on the board of Heptares and the Science Advisory Board of Astex Pharmaceuticals.
Roberto was previously Vice President in GSK’s Respiratory Therapy Area based in Stevenage, UK where his role covered drug discovery from target identification through to proof of concept studies in man. Before joining GSK, Roberto was CEO of the UK Medical Research Council’s technology transfer arm, MRCT, creating spin out companies and developing an internal drug discovery group. He has advised and worked in venture capital firms Apax Partners and Abingworth following a period at Glaxo Wellcome, and academic positions at the Institut de Biochimie, Universite de Lausanne and Liverpool University. He has a PhD in Physiology and Cell Biology from Nottingham University.
BSc PhD FRSC
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.
Neil has had a career spanning more than 30 years in the pharmaceutical industry. Most recently he completed 15 years as Senior Vice President of Biology at Astex Pharmaceuticals based in Cambridge, UK, where as the most senior biologist, he helped create a successful drug discovery and development organisation. Previously, Neil worked for GlaxoSmithKline where he was Director of the Immunology Platform responsible for specialist cellular and molecular immunology employed in the drug development process and led several drug discovery projects in a variety of therapeutic areas.
He received his doctorate in Biochemistry from King's College, London, in 1985. Neil is currently an independent consultant in the field of drug discovery and development providing support to industry, academic and government organisations. He is Deputy Chair of the MRC DPFS panel and Chair of the MRC CLD/ADI committee. He has co-authored more than 40 publications and patents and sits on advisory boards for several scientific institutions in the UK.
DipBiol MSc PhD
Dr Bruno Amati 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.
Dr Amati 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).