Leadership Team

Astex Pharmaceuticals is led by a globally experienced management team with knowledge and expertise in finance, drug discovery, development and commercialization.

  • Astex, Cambridge, UK
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    • Harren JhotiPhD FMedSci, President and CEO, Astex Therapeutics Limited
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      Harren JhotiHarren Jhoti co-founded Astex in 1999 and was chief scientific officer until November 2007 when he was appointed chief executive. He also served as president and member of the Board of Directors of Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc., following the merger of Astex with SuperGen Inc., (subsequently renamed Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc.) in July 2011. In 2015 Dr. Jhoti was elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in the UK. He was awarded the Prous Institute-Overton and Meyer Award for New Technologies in Drug Discovery by the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry in 2012 and was also named by the Royal Society of Chemistry as “Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year” for 2007. He has published widely including in leading journals such as Nature and Science and has also been featured in TIME magazine after being named by the World Economic Forum a Technology Pioneer in 2005. Dr. Jhoti previously served as a non-executive director of Iconix Inc. and currently serves on the board of the BIA, the UK BioIndustry Association. Before founding Astex in 1999, he was head of Structural Biology and Bioinformatics at GlaxoWellcome in the United Kingdom (1991-1999). Prior to Glaxo, Dr. Jhoti was a post-doctoral scientist at Oxford University. He received a B.Sc. (Hons) in Biochemistry in 1985 and a Ph.D. in Protein Crystallography from the University of London in 1989.

    • Lyn LeaperEPA PhD, Senior Vice President, Corporate Development
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      Lyn LeaperLyn Leaper joined Astex as Vice President, Intellectual Property, in October 2002. She is a European patent attorney who joined Astex from StratagemIPM where she provided IP management and strategic advice to medical and biotechnology companies. Previously, she worked at Akzo Nobel NV and from 1999 was Director of Patents at Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (a Johnson & Johnson Company). She obtained a BSc in Biochemistry and a PhD in Plant Biochemistry and Molecular Biology before commencing a career in intellectual property at The Wellcome Foundation Ltd in 1988.

    • Neil ThompsonPhD, Senior Vice President, Biology
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      Neil ThompsonNeil Thompson joined Astex as Vice President of Biology in January 2002 from GlaxoSmithKline where he was Director of the Immunology Platform responsible for specialist cellular and molecular immunology employed in the drug development process. Previously, as Head of the Cellular Immunology Unit, he provided support for both small molecule and therapeutic vaccine programs and has led several drug discovery projects in a variety of therapeutic areas. Prior to this, he was a senior biochemist with Wellcome Research Laboratories. He received his doctorate in Biochemistry from King's College, London, in 1985.

    • David ReesPhD, Senior Vice President, Chemistry
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      David ReesDavid Rees joined Astex in January 2003. Prior to Astex he worked as a medicinal chemist at Parke-Davis, Organon and AstraZeneca, Sweden as head of the Medicinal Chemistry Department of 140 staff. David is a co-recipient of the Royal Society of Chemistry Malcolm Campbell Memorial Prize 2007 for the discovery of the anesthesia drug sugammadex (Bridion). He is a co-author of over 100 publications and patents, has served as President of the Royal Society of Chemistry, Organic Division (2010-2013) and is currently Visiting Professor at Newcastle University.

    • Lee DawsonPhD, Vice President & Head of CNS
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      Lee DawsonLee Dawson joined Astex in 2015 as Vice President & Head of CNS. Over a career of 20+ years in the Pharmaceutical industry, Lee has held various positions within the Neuroscience research functions at Wyeth Research (in the UK and US; now Pfizer), GlaxoSmithKline and most recently was Senior Director & Head of Open Innovation for the Japanese Pharmaceutical company Eisai Ltd. He is a Biochemist by training obtaining both his BSc and PhD from the University of Leeds and then specialised in Neurochemistry / Neuropharmacology and their application to Neuroscience Drug Discovery. Lee has a broad scientific expertise in Neurological & Psychiatric Disease biology and has over 75 peer reviewed publications on a wide variety of research areas, drug targets and technologies.

    • Neil JonesBSc FCA, Vice President, Finance & Operations
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      Neil JonesNeil Jones joined Astex in May 2000 from Sapient Corporation. He has significant financial experience working within Bioscience, CRO and consultancy organisations. He obtained an honours degree in Economics from Loughborough University and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1991.

    • John LyonsMSc PhD, Vice President, Translational R&D
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      John LyonsJohn Lyons is Vice President of Translational Research with responsibility for the development of translational strategies for all of Astex’s oncology programmes. John joined Astex as Director of Oncology in October 2003 and was named Vice President of Translational Research in 2007. He has 26 years of industrial experience in cancer biology, preclinical and clinical development and joined Astex from SuperGen Inc., where, as Senior Director of Scientific Development, he was responsible for the development of Dacogen™ approved for MDS, a form of leukemia. Prior to this, he spent 8 years at Onyx Pharmaceuticals were he led the team that discovered Nexavar™, a signal transduction inhibitor approved in the US and Europe for renal cell carcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma and Stivarga™ a multi kinase inhibitor approved for gastro-intestinal stromal tumours and colorectal cancers. He also worked at Cetus Corporation in the US on G protein oncogenes. Dr Lyons is a member of AACR and ASCO. He obtained his PhD in 1989 from the University of Ulm, Germany. He has over 60 peer reviewed publications and 20 company related patents.

    • Chris MurrayPhD, Vice President, Discovery Technology
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      Chris MurrayChris Murray joined Astex from Protherics (previously Proteus Molecular Design), a UK-based biotechnology company, where he led the developmental team working on virtual screening docking codes. He became leader of the Molecular Design group and played a key role in the design of the Factor Xa lead compound that was subsequently licensed to Eli Lilly. Dr Murray obtained his degree and doctorate in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge, UK, and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral researcher in Indiana University, Bloomington, USA before beginning his industrial career.

    • Toshiki SudoPhD, Vice President, Research Planning and Partnership
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      Toshiki SudoToshiki Sudo joined Astex as Vice President of Research Planning and Partnership in January 2014 from Otsuka Pharmaceutical. Prior to Astex, he worked in the pharmaceutical business as Head of Department of the Global Pharmaceutical Business in Tokyo. He was also in charge of the acquisition of Astex as the Leader of Oncology Business Development in Otsuka. Prior to this, he worked in drug discovery as a pharmacologist on projects in the field of thrombosis including Cilostazol (Pletaal®) and led several projects as Head of Cardiovascular Drug Discovery in Otsuka. He received a PhD in biochemistry from Kobe University in Japan.

    • Glyn WilliamsDPhil, Vice President, Biophysics
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      Glyn WilliamsGlyn Williams joined Astex in 2001, to develop biophysical applications for fragment-based drug discovery. Such methods are now routinely applied at all stages of the Astex lead discovery and optimisation process. After graduating from the University of Oxford (Gibbs Prize in Chemistry, 1979; D.Phil., 1983), Glyn held posts as a visiting lecturer at the University of Sydney and a lecturer in Bio-Inorganic Chemistry at University College London. Immediately prior to joining Astex, Glyn had spent 11 years with Roche UK where he was responsible for biological Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and analytical Mass Spectrometry.

    • Jeff YonPhD, Vice President, Molecular Sciences
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      Jeff YonJeff Yon joined Astex from Janssen Research Foundation in January 2001. Prior to this he had over 10 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry, with positions at Janssen (a Johnson & Johnson company) and Pfizer, working mostly in the area of recombinant protein production for structural biology and high throughput screening. Graduating from Cambridge, he obtained a PhD from Birmingham University and undertook postdoctoral research at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund before beginning his industrial career.

  • Astex, California, USA
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    • Mohammad AzabMD, MSc, MBA, President and Chief Medical Officer, Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc.
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      Mohammad AzabMohammad Azab joined Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as Chief Medical Officer in July 2009 and became President and Chief Medical Officer in January 2014. He possesses more than 25 years of experience in global drug development that led to approval of several drugs in cancer, GI, and ophthalmology indications. Previously, Dr. Azab served as President and CEO of Intradigm Corporation, a privately held Palo Alto, California, company developing siRNA cancer therapeutics. Prior to this, Dr. Azab served as Executive Vice President of Research and Development, and Chief Medical Officer of Vancouver, British Columbia-based QLT Inc., and in several leadership positions in Astra Zeneca in the UK and Sanofi Pharmaceuticals in France. Dr. Azab received his medical degree with honors in 1979 from Cairo University. He received his postgraduate training as a medical oncologist in France where he earned degrees in oncology research and statistics from the University of Paris-Sud and the University of Pierre and Marie Curie. He has published more than 100 medical papers and abstracts. He is an active member of several international oncology societies. Dr. Azab received an MBA, with Distinction, from the Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario in 2001.

    • Martin BucklandDPhil, MBA, Chief Corporate Officer
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      Martin BucklandMartin Buckland was appointed Chief Corporate Officer of Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in January 2015. He joined Astex Therapeutics Limited as Chief Business Officer in September 2004 and served as a member of the Board of Directors from July 2008 through the merger with SuperGen Inc. to create Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in July 2011. He has more than 30 years of commercial, corporate and business development experience in the pharmaceutical industry and joined Astex from Elan Pharmaceuticals, where he previously held the position of Vice President of Global Business Development. His prior experience includes a variety of business development and commercial management roles with Quintiles, Xenova and Celltech. Dr. Buckland was awarded the 2009 AstraZeneca Business Development Professional of the Year Award by the Pharmaceutical Licensing Group. He has a BA in Chemistry and a DPhil from the University of Oxford, UK, and an MBA from the Open Business School.

    • Sanjeev RedkarPhD, MBA, RAC, Senior Vice President Product Development
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      Sanjeev RedkarSanjeev Redkar joined Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 1998 and is responsible for pharmaceutical development, technical operations and manufacturing. Dr. Redkar has held increasingly senior positions at Astex over his tenure of 17 years and has been closely involved in multiple IND/CTA, NDA and EMA submissions. Dr. Redkar is a co-inventor of guadecitabine, a novel hypomethylating agent now in Phase 3 clinical trials. He has over 20 years of oncology drug development experience and has several peer-reviewed publications and patents. Prior to Astex, he was previously at Matrix Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Redkar earned his doctorate from the University of Colorado, Boulder, an MBA from St. Mary’s College of California, and an undergraduate degree at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Dr. Redkar is an Adjunct faculty and a Board Member at the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy, Stockton and Chairman of the Board of EPPIC, a pharmaceutical professionals’ network.

    • Yong HaoMD, PhD, Vice President, Biostatistics & Data Management
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      Yong HaoYong Hao joined Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in 2012 as an Executive Director, Biostatistics & Data Management and Chief Statistician, and was promoted in early 2014 to Vice President and Chief Statistician, Biostatistics and Data Management. He has 20 years of experience in drug development, particularly in trial design, data acquisition & management and statistical analysis. He has worked in both industry and academia. Before joining Astex, Dr. Hao held positions from Director to Vice President at QLT Inc. Between 1998 and 2012, his responsibilities there varied among Biometrics & Data Management, Clinical Operations, and Clinical Development. From 1992 to 1997, he was Senior Biostatistician and Acting Department Head, Biostatistics, at the Ontario Cancer Institute / Princess Margaret Hospital. Dr. Hao’s education combines medicine and statistics. He earned a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Shanxi Medical University, a Master of Medicine (Health Statistics) degree from the Chinese Medical University in China, and, in 1992, a PhD in Biostatistics from the University of Toronto. Dr. Hao is a professional statistician (P.Stat) accredited by both the American Statistical Association and the Statistical Society of Canada.

    • Samuel JasonCPA, Vice President, Finance
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      Samuel JasonSamuel Jason joined Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as Assistant Controller in 1998, became Controller in January 2000, and assumed his current role as Vice President, Finance in January 2014. He has more than 25 years of financial management experience, including four years in public accounting with Coopers & Lybrand (now PricewaterhouseCoopers), and other public and privately-held companies in various industries. He is a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA). He received his B.S. in Business Administration/Accounting from California State University.

    • Harold N. KeerMD, PhD, Vice President, Clinical Research & Medical Monitor
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      Harold KeerHarold Keer joined Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in February 2013. He possesses more than 20 years of drug development experience in industry and academia. From 2008 to 2013, Dr. Keer served as Vice President, Clinical Development at Five Prime Therapeutics where he led clinical development for programs in oncology and immunology. From 2002 to 2008 he was at Exelixis where he held multiple roles with increasing responsibility including Vice President, Clinical Development. At Exelixis he was responsible for oversight of multiple clinical development clinical programs including for Cometriq®, now approved for thyroid cancer. Dr. Keer received his MD and PhD degrees from Northwestern University Medical School, completed training in Internal Medicine at Harvard-affiliate, Beth Israel Hospital, and completed sub-specialty training in Medical Oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine where he was awarded a Clinical Associate Physician grant to perform clinical and translational research. He has published many scientific papers and abstracts, including in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Keer is Adjunct Clinical Faculty at Stanford.

    • Shu LeePhD, Vice President, Corporate Counsel & Compliance Officer
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      Shu LeeShu Lee joined Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. in May 2014. He had fifteen years’ experience as a chemist specializing in lasers research, particularly applied to the kinetics of fast reactions, before deciding to attend law school. As a lawyer, Dr. Lee worked at law firms, including the patent firm Fitzpatrick, Cella, Harper & Scinto, then went in-house with positions of increasing responsibility at Merck & Co., OSI Pharmaceuticals, and SuperGen, Inc.

    • Shinichi SatoVice President, Alliance Management & Clinical Planning
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      Shinichi SatoShinichi Sato transferred to Astex Pharmaceuticals, Inc. as Vice President of Alliance Management and Clinical Planning in February 2014 after the acquisition of the company by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. His responsibility is to promote and accelerate the collaborative relationship between Astex and Otsuka, and to coordinate the clinical development planning of products in the Astex pipeline to ensure alignment with the Otsuka oncology portfolio. He is also closely looking at clinical development plan to fit into Otsuka oncology portfolio. He joined Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. in 1991 and was responsible for branding of pharmaceutical products and global project coordination for many years before becoming Head of Product Training and Medical Science Department. He received his BS in Bioorganic Chemistry from Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan.

    • Sameena SharifPhD, Vice President, Business Operations, Portfolio & Project Management
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      Sameena SharifSameena Sharif joined Astex Pharmaceuticals Inc as Executive Director, Project Management, in March 2012. Prior to joining Astex Dr. Sharif had over 20 years of experience in project and alliance management in both the biotech and pharmaceutical sectors, working in roles of increasing responsibility at Aradigm, Abgenix, PDL, Exelixis and, most recently, Cellerant Therapeutics, where she was Senior Director working closely with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and responsible for the development of the company’s novel cell-based therapies for the treatment of acute radiation syndrome. Her experience covers all aspects of drug development from target selection through filing including work on Vectibix® and Retavase®. Dr. Sharif obtained her B. Pharmacy Degree from Bradford University, UK and her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Nottingham, UK.

    • David S SmithPhD, Vice President, Global Regulatory Affairs & Quality Assurance
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      David SmithDavid Smith joined Astex as Vice President, Global Regulatory Affairs and Quality Assurance in 2007. He is a 30-year professional with a record of global achievements across a broad range of regulatory activities. Dr. Smith is responsible for leading the company’s regulatory strategy and for interactions with regulatory agencies globally. Prior to joining Astex, Dr. Smith was Senior Director of Global Regulatory Strategy at Wyeth, overseeing all US regulatory activities and international registrations. At Roche and Schering-Plough he was also successful in obtaining registrations for a number of new small molecule, protein and biologic drug products. Dr. Smith’s activities range from evaluation of business development opportunities, transitioning products from discovery to development, obtaining registrations, and supporting regulatory aspects of life-cycle management. Dr. Smith received a BS in Biophysics, and a PhD in Pharmacology from the School of Medicine at Wayne State University. He was a postdoctoral Fellow at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology.