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The new Climax Professor of Clinical Therapeutics will join the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences at the Medical Sciences Division and St Hilda’s College in February 2019 to lead Oxford’s answer to a key global challenge – how to determine quickly which potential new therapies have the properties to become important medicines.

Professor Duncan Richards will establish a new Centre for Clinical Therapeutics based at the Botnar Research Centre. The Centre, under his leadership, will work with a diverse range of Oxford biomedical researchers and more widely with the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and diagnostics industries, in order to drive promising new drug treatments through decision-making in early phase clinical trials.

“The cutting edge scientific environment in Oxford and its broader network provides a unique opportunity to ask the critical questions in early drug development and identify those new treatments that have the greatest potential to make a meaningful difference for patients. The Centre will provide an environment to train the next generation of clinical research leaders based on strong clinical pharmacological principles”, says Professor Richards.

Head of NDORMS Professor Andrew Carr comments: “Duncan’s appointment as Climax Professor of Clinical Therapeutics will enable us to address the global challenge of developing new therapies faster whilst continuing to deliver evidence-based excellent and innovative care that improves people’s lives.”

In funding the new Chair in Clinical Therapeutics, the benefactor Professor John Climax will also support ten training fellowships to stimulate essential skills in Clinical Pharmacology for the development of new medicines.

“This is a great opportunity for us not only to change patients’ lives but also to support the next generation of early and mid-career clinical scientists”, adds Professor Carr.

Professor Sir Gordon Duff, Principal of St Hilda’s College, says: “Professor Richards’ appointment to the Climax Chair of Clinical Therapeutics heralds a new model for developing effective options for prevention and treatment of diseases. The model will be adaptable to different contexts of disease around the globe. St Hilda’s is grateful to the benefactor for his vision, and his determination to see it realised. The College looks forward to participating in a new approach to the development of medicines, where interdisciplinary thinking will propel progress.”

The new appointment will also allow the clinical trials centre (OCTRU) in the Botnar Research Centre to provide extensive early experimental clinical trials support across the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre themes.

“This important appointment fits extremely well with the translational focus of the Oxford NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. Professor Richards’ expertise in early drug development will lead to advances which will benefit patients and will also support training the next generation of researchers in this important field”, says Professor Helen McShane, Director of the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.

Sir John Bell, Regius Professor of Medicine adds: “Streamlining the process of developing new medicines and medical devices which have a meaningful impact to patients is a key priority of healthcare systems worldwide and we are confident the appointment of Professor Duncan Richards will be pivotal to Oxford’s contribution to a positive solution to this medical need.”

Professor Richards trained in medicine at the University of Oxford and following junior doctor positions in London, he returned to Oxford as a Clinical Lecturer in Clinical Pharmacology. He joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in 2003, where his career has focussed on early clinical development but has encompassed studies from first in human to file-and-launch. He currently leads GSK’s early clinical development organisation (CPEM) and is Director of the GSK phase 1 clinical unit in Cambridge. 

He will continue to work closely with GSK bridging the gap between academia and industry. Dr John Lepore, Head of Research at GSK commented: “I would like to congratulate Duncan on his appointment to this new role at the University of Oxford. Duncan has provided important scientific leadership and insight to the clinical pharmacology assessment of new drugs in development at GSK. I am pleased that he will continue to consult with us on our early clinical development portfolio, and I look forward to the opportunity for productive collaboration with the University of Oxford that may emerge.”

Professor Richards has been a strong advocate for the use of experimental medicine techniques to answer critical early drug development questions. He is a former member of the MRC/NIHR EME Board and serves on several committees of the British Pharmacological Society.

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