Getting to Know- Ian Gilbert

Ian Gilbert in his office at the Drug Discovery Unit at The University of Dundee.
One of the founding members of the DDU, Prof Ian Gilbert leads teams of chemists working on Diseases of the Developing World projects. He is a medicinal chemist with experience across a number of drug discovery projects, including co-leading (with Dr Read) the team that developed the DDU’s pre-clinical candidate for malaria.

Ian Gilbert is  holder of the Roscoe Chair and Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee. He is Head of Medicinal Chemistry within the Drug Discovery Unit and also Head of the Division of Biological Chemistry and Drug Discovery.  His contribution to science and in particular drug discovery for neglected tropical diseases has been recognised through his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

We found a few moments in Ian’s busy schedule to find out what inspired him to become a scientist and check that he has a few hobbies.








Question: What is your earliest science memory ?
Answer: Going to a Christmas lecture for children in London. So I think the public engagement activities for children are important!

Q: Did a particular person(s) or event start your career as a scientist?
A: Both my parents were scientists. I had one chemistry teacher at school who particularly inspired me.

Q: What characteristics make a good scientist?
A: I think an enquiring mind and hard work! Someone who thinks out of the box and is prepared to try new things.

Q: Do you think being a scientist impacts the way you approach everything in life?
A: In some things, but not in others

Q: Do non-science life experiences contribute towards success in the lab?
A: Yes. I think it is important the laboratory is not separated from things going on outside – it needs to be relevant.

Q: What motivates you to come into work every day?
A: Trying to make medicines where there is a need for new treatments. I work with a great group of people. I still get a real thrill seeing a compound we have designed showing good biological activity.

Q: Is there any part of human lives where science can’t help or inform?
A: Yes – there are many things were science can’t help or inform. People are complex!

Q: Was there a ‘sliding doors’ moment when you could have chosen a different career path?
A: Not really. I decided from about 11 or 12 that I wanted to be a scientist

Q: Do you ever wish you had chosen a different career?
A: No – I really enjoy the science. Seeing a practical outcome of what we do is really important to me

Q: If we had to put all our science activities into solving only one problem currently impacting humans which one would you choose?
A: There are so many problems and they seem to be increasing. I have a passion for developing medicines for infectious diseases, particularly for neglected diseases such as malaria.


Born: Surrey

Favourite Book: I was really inspired by Long Walk to Freedom

Favourite Film: Enemy of the State

Favourite computer game: Packman

Favourite thing to do at the weekend: Hiking

Desert Island Luxury: iPhone

Which record would you save from the incoming Tay tide: Viva La Vida or Piano Man