Distinguished Lec

back Back to all Distinguished Lec

Distinguished Lecture Series - Professor Sir Tom Blundell

Start Date: November 22, 2016
End Date: November 22, 2016

DATE: Tuesday, November 22, 2016
TIME: 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
LOCATION: Lecture Hall Level 0 · between Buildings 2 & 3

Knowledge that is now emerging from the sequences of genomes of humans and pathogens has the potential to accelerate diagnosis, prognosis and cure of disease. We are moving quickly into an era of personalised medicine, not only in familial diseases where a mutation in a human gene is important, but also for multigene diseases like diabetes and cancer.  Equally important, the genome sequences sequences of tumours and of pathogens, for example Mycobacterium tuberculosis, can give clues about the choice of existing drugs and the design of new ones to combat the increasing occurrence of drug resistance. I will discuss high-throughput computational, biophysical and structural analyses can be used to investigate the targets that drugs might bind and structure-guided, small molecule-screening approaches to the design of new medicines.

Tom Blundell maintains an active laboratory as Director of Research and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, where he was previously Sir William Dunn Professor and Head of Department between 1996 and 2009, and Chair of School of Biological Sciences between 2003 and 2009. He has previously held teaching and research positions in the Universities of London, Sussex and Oxford.
Tom researches on molecular, structural and computational biology of growth factors, receptor activation, signal transduction and DNA repair, important in cancer, tuberculosis and familial diseases. His recent work has focused on the multiprotein systems important in cell regulation and signaling. He has described complex assemblies of FGFR and Met receptor systems necessary for high signal to noise in cell signalling. He has also worked on the structural biology of the components of DNA double-strand-break repair, both Non-Homologous End Joining including DNA-PK and Homologous Recombination,  focusing on Rad51 and BRCA2.
He has also published many widely used software packages for protein modelling and design including Modeller (~8600 citations) and Fugue (~1200 citations), as well as computer programs to predict the effects of mutations on protein stability and interactions (SDM & mCSM), as well as to understand the mechanisms of drug resistance. He has published 580 research papers, including 30 in Nature and 35 in the past two years including two in Science. 
Tom has developed new approaches to structure-guided and fragment-based drug discovery. In 1999 he co-founded Astex Therapeutics, an oncology company that has eight drugs in clinical trials and that was sold in 2013 as Astex Pharma to Otsuka for $886 million. In parallel in the University of Cambridge he has developed structure-guided fragment-based approaches to drug discovery for difficult targets involving multiprotein systems and protein-protein interactions for the Met receptor and DNA double-strand break repair Rad51-Brca2 complexes, based on his basic research programmes. He has also been targeting ~10 Mycobacterium tuberculosis proteins as part of the Gates HIT-TB and EU-FP7 MM4TB consortia, including structural and biochemical studies of resistance mutations to first line drugs.
Tom was a member of PM Margaret Thatcher’s Advisory Council on Science & Technology (1988-1990), founding CEO of Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, 1991-1996 (Chair 2009-2015), Chairman, Royal Commission on Environment (1998-2005), Deputy Chair of Institute of Cancer Research 2008-2015 and President of UK Science Council since 2011.