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Discovery Centre International Advisory Board

The Discovery Centre is grateful to the members of its International Scientific Advisory Board, Søren Brunak, Gerhard Hummer and Heather Giles. These international experts in their respective fields assist us in setting and monitoring our scientific direction and progress and advise us on future opportunities.

Soren Brunak

Dr. Søren Brunak is Professor of Bioinformatics at the Technical University of Denmark and Professor of Disease Systems Biology at the University of Copenhagen. Professor Brunak is the founding Director of the Centre for Biological Sequence Analysis, which was formed in 1993 as a multidisciplinary research group of molecular biologists, biochemists, medical doctors, physicists, and computer scientists. Søren Brunak has been highly active within biological data integration, where machine-learning techniques have often been used to integrate predicted or experimentally established functional genome, metagenome and proteome annotation.

Professor Brunak’s current research also combines molecular level systems biology and healthcare sector data such as electronic patient records and biobank questionnaires. The aim is to group and stratify patients not only from their genotype, but also phenotypically based on the clinical descriptions in the medical records. An additional focus area is now adverse drug reactions.

Søren Brunak is member of EMBO and of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters.


Heather Giles

Dr. Heather Giles has held international leadership positions in large and small pharmaceutical companies, and her wide experience spans drug discovery and development from target validation, through clinical studies to final regulatory submission. She has a track record of creating sustainable R&D portfolios and delivering new drugs into development and on to market. She has expertise in numerous therapeutic areas including respiratory, inflammation and cardiovascular and is a respected pharmacologist with international recognition in the field of receptor theory and GPCRs.

Dr. Giles is currently an independent consultant providing strategic and scientific guidance on drug discovery and development projects to small pharmaceutical companies, academic teams, university technology transfer groups and funding bodies. From 2001-2008 she was Vice-President of Strategic Planning at Encysive and played a pivotal role in delivering the company’s key development project, Thelin, an endothelin A receptor antagonist for treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension. Previously, from 1995-2000, she was International Disease Strategy Director for Asthma at GlaxoSmithKline R&D and Head of the Receptor Pharmacology Department at GlaxoWellcome R&D, UK.

Dr. Giles serves as adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Houston, is a member of the British Pharmacological Society and has served on their governing council and is an Editor for the British Journal of Pharmacology. She has served as a trustee for The Royal National Institute of Blind People since 2011, and is a member of the Research Strategy Advisory Group at Fight for Sight.

Gerhard Hummer

Dr. Gerhard Hummer is the Director of the Department of Theoretical Biophysics at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt, Germany. He and his group use molecular simulations, modeling, and theory to study the structure, dynamics and function of biological systems at the molecular level.

After receiving his doctorate (1992) for work done at the Department of Physics, University of Vienna, Austria, and at the Department of Molecular Biology, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany, he joined the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, NM, USA, first as a postdoctoral fellow (1993-1996) and then as an independent researcher (1996-1999) in the Theory Division. In 1999, he moved to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, MD, USA, where he became Chief of the Theoretical Biophysics Section, and Deputy Chief of the Laboratory of Chemical Physics. In 2013 he joined the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt, Germany, to head the newly formed Department of Theoretical Biophysics.

Gerhard Hummer is a Fellow of the American Physical Society (2005) and received the Raymond and Beverly Sackler International Prize in Biophysics (2010).