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Emma Mead

Associate Professor

Chief Scientific Officer, Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute

Emma received her PhD in Neuroscience from University College London, investigating the role of reactive oxygen species in modulating neuroinflammation in Alzheimer’s disease. Following a post-doctoral research position at Cardiff University, where she studied the mechanism of action of naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds, Emma joined Eli Lilly as a senior scientist and team co-ordinator. Emma worked in target validation and early drug discovery for neurodegeneration. Emma joined the Alzheimer's Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ODDI) in 2018 to lead the Neuroinflammation team, and became the CSO in 2023.

The Alzheimer’s Research UK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ODDI) is one of three institutes forming the Alzheimer's Research UK Drug Discovery Alliance (DDA). Alongside the UCL Drug Discovery Institute and ALBORADA Drug Discovery Institute at the University of Cambridge, our goal is to couple the deep disease knowledge and biology expertise of the academic community with high quality, innovative drug discovery technologies. We aim to translate cutting edge academic science into drug discovery programmes and develop therapies for patients living with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. 

The ODDI is a multidisciplinary team of >35 biologists, pharmacologists and chemists. We are focussed on evaluating novel dementia targets that modulate neuroinflammation and organelle dysfunction. Both of these areas have been identified by human genetic studies as being dysregulated in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and are implicated in the development of pathology. We have identified a number of potential points of therapeutic intervention in immune pathways in microglia, and mitochondrial and endo-lysosomal targets that may hold therapeutic potential. We validate these targets using novel in vitro assays utilising human iPSC macrophages, relevant cell lines and primary cells. Targets that hold potential for further drug development are prosecuted via screening assays, and the biology team have developed cell based, biochemical and biophysical screening assays to identify novel small molecule compounds. Hits from our screens are further profiled in appropriate cell based assays to facilitate drug development, which is performed by our Chemistry team. Using this model, we have successfully translated cutting edge academic research in neurodegeneration to drug discovery programmes, and continue to explore ways to develop disease modifying therapies for patients.

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