Dr Susan Wyllie, Head of the Mode of Action group within WCAIR and Principal Investigator in the School of Life Sciences, underwent a successful tenure review recently.
Susan first came to the School of Life Sciences as a senior research associate and part-time lecturer in the lab of Professor Alan Fairlamb to study drug mechanisms of action in Leishmania, the parasite which causes the diseases cutaneous and visceral leishmaniasis. During a 14-year collaboration with Professor Fairlamb, Susan helped demonstrate the potential of the drug fexinidazole for treatment of visceral leishmaniasis. As a direct result of this work, a phase II clinical trial for the use of fexinidazole against visceral leishmaniasis was carried out in Sudan by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, DNDi. In 2015, Susan established the Mode of Action group focused on determining the mechanism(s) of action and specific molecular target(s) of novel compounds. In the 6 years since the group has been established, the molecular targets and/or modes of action of 33 anti-parasitic compounds have been determined, including three clinical drug candidates. The information the group provides has proved transformative to drug discovery programs, not only in Dundee but also in the wider scientific community. In 2019, Susan became a Principal Investigator within the Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery School of Life Sciences.
Dr. Wyllie is co-Principal Investigator a £4.9 million grant from Wellcome to fund the work of her group to continue to develop tools to identify mechanisms of actions and new targets of potential new medicines. In 2017 the work Susan lead won the GlaxoSmithKline’s Annual Scientific Termination of Projects (STOP) Award. This is awarded for “Impact and value of science-led decisions in allowing reinvestment of valuable resources into transformative medicines”. Susan is a panel member for MalDA, a consortium of 15 Scientific Laboratories funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to advance the development of anti-malarial drugs.
Commenting on her success Prof. Inke Näthke, Interim Dean SLS, said “It is with immense pleasure that I congratulate Dr Susan Wyllie on passing her tenure review today. Her work on the identifying the mode of action of drugs, particularly those targeting Neglected Tropical Diseases is internationally recognised. The multi-pronged approach she takes is extremely powerful and not only makes crucial contributions to our ability to treat and understand these diseases it also produces tools and information that could be useful to many of us.”
Read more about the work of the Mode of Action group and investigate the tools they have made available to the research community.