Dr Susan Wyllie, Head of the Mode of Action (MoA) group, has been promoted to tenure track Principal Investigator in the School. Her group is part of the Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery (BCDD) and the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research (WCAIR).
Susan obtained her undergraduate degree and PhD from the University of Edinburgh, and subsequently was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Susan returned to the UK to work with Alan Fairlamb in the School. Susan had led the MoA group since its establishment in 2015 and became an Independent Investigator in 2017.
Susan has more than 15 years’ experience in studying kinetoplastid biology. Her studies have predominantly focused on deciphering drug mechanism(s) of action and mechanisms of drug resistance – in particular in Leishmania spp., the causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis.
Mode of Action Group
The MoA group undertakes drug target deconvolution studies with phenotypically-active, anti-parasitic compounds. Using a matrix of established and new methodologies in the fields of high-throughput genetics, cell biology/biochemistry and chemical proteomics, they determine the mechanism(s) and specific molecular targets of active compounds. The principal goal of the group is to feed much-needed chemically-validated drug targets into drug discovery programmes to facilitate target-based drug discovery. In uncovering the MoA of these compounds, the group has the potential to identify exploitable drug targets and the ability to generate chemical and biological tools that can be used to study fundamental parasite biology. The MoA group work closely with their colleagues in the Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) in order to realise the potential of their discoveries.
Recent achievements of Susan and her group have been:
- Determining the mechanism of action of two new preclinical drug candidates developed by the DDU for the treatment visceral leishmaniasis, one of the world’s major neglected diseases. These studies were published in Nature (2018) and PNAS (2019).
- Being awarded the GlaxoSmithKline Scientific Termination of Projects (STOP) Award 2017 for pulling the plug on the development of compound series aimed at treating visceral leishmaniasis and Chagas’ disease.