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Richard Priestley

Richard Priestley

Richard Priestley

Pharmacologist / Screening Scientist

I believe deeply in the power of drug discovery and development to provide solutions to the most challenging issues facing human health. In my role as a Pharmacologist with the ARUK Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ODDI), I am working at the forefront of the development of new medicines for the treatment of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. To help me succeed in this endeavour, I draw on my experience working in various fields, including neurodegenerative disease, pain and tropical disease in both academia and the pharmaceutical sector.

The focus of my research is the development of biochemical and cell-based assays to model neurodegenerative disease-relevant molecular pathways. In turn, these models are used to identify potential small-molecule modulators through the screening of compound libraries, after which any 'hits' are validated and then improved via medicinal chemistry.

A second important aspect of my work is the evaluation and validation of potential new targets, something which is essential if we as a research community are to successfully develop new treatments to neurodegenerative disease. This work includes utilising literature and databases to score novel targets, as well as experimental work to provide supporting evidence of a novel target's potential relevance. Within this aspect of my role, I have coauthored successful funding applications for the ODDI.

I obtained a BSc (Hons) in Pharmacology from the University of Edinburgh, before completing my PhD in Molecular Pharmacology at the University of Nottingham. My PhD, a joint BBSRC-Pfizer CASE studentship completed in 2014, investigated agonist bias and allosterism at the cannabinoid type 1 receptor, as a potential route to developing novel analgesic agents with reduced off-target effects. A highlight during my time at Nottingham was the discovery that the commonly prescribed anti-dyslipidaemia agent, fenofibrate is a cannabinoid receptor ligand and allosteric modulator. 

In 2015 I joined the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine as a post-doctoral research associate in the Research Centre for Drugs and Diagnostics. While there I performed phamacokinetic analysis of novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of neglected tropical diseases elephantiasis and river blindness, as well as pharmacological assessment of novel anti-malarial agents. My time in Liverpool was extremely rewarding with highlights including molecules I worked on progressing to clinical testing and successful publication in high impact journals, including PNAS and Nature Communications. 

In between my time at academic institutes, I have also worked in the private sector, including for Almac, Syntaxin (now Ipsen) and Pfizer/Neusentis. These experiences have given me an invaluable understanding of what is required for successful drug development. 

Beyond my research, I endeavour to be a part of the wider drug R&D community as a source of collaberation and new thinking. I am a member of the British Pharmacological Society and am a reviewer for the British Journal of Pharmacology. I have also written book chapters relating to Pharmacology.

Recent publications

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