About us

Istesso is a drug discovery and development company working in the field of immunometabolism. Our pipeline of pre-clinical and clinical assets act by reprogramming metabolism to treat autoimmune and inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. Istesso was founded in 2017 as the holding company for Modern Biosciences plc.

Our team has considerable expertise in drug discovery and development gained from working in large pharma and biotech, combined with deep scientific expertise in autoimmunity and inflammation. Our advisory group includes senior figures in medicine and the biotech/pharma industry, as well as some of the world’s leading scientists in immunometabolism.

Board

Sam Williams, Chief Executive Officer

Sam Williams

Chief Executive Officer

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Sam is the founding CEO of Istesso and was previously CEO of Modern Biosciences (MBS), now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Istesso. Prior to joining MBS in 2007, Sam was a top-ranked biotech equity analyst in the City of London. Sam is Non-Executive Chairman of C4X Discovery Holdings plc, a non-executive director of Diurnal Group plc and a board member of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA). He holds a PhD in molecular biology from Cambridge and a degree in biology from Oxford.

“There’s nothing more satisfying in biotech than seeing a drug go from the lab to its first use in patients. Doing this with Istesso has been a pleasure, particularly working with the talented team we’ve built.”

Lisa Patel, Chief Scientific Officer

Lisa Patel

Chief Scientific Officer

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Prior to joining Istesso in 2007, Lisa spent 10 years at GlaxoSmithKline as a team leader in the Cardiovascular Centre of Excellence and latterly as a group leader in Clinical Pharmacology and Discovery Medicine. She is a non-executive director of Glythera Ltd and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Avacta plc. Lisa has a PhD in molecular genetics, a degree in biochemistry and an MBA.

“It’s hard to imagine anything more rewarding than translating exciting science into treatments with the potential to benefit patients.”

Alan Aubrey, Chairman

Alan Aubrey

Chairman

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Alan is the Chairman of Istesso and the CEO of IP Group plc. Previously, he was founding CEO of Techtran Group Ltd and a partner at KPMG. Alan is a Non-Executive Director of Oxford Nanopore Technologies, Oxford Sciences Innovation and Avacta plc.

He is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales.

Peter Allen, Non-Executive Director

Peter Allen

Non-Executive Director

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Peter has over 20 years’ experience in senior board positions in a wide portfolio of healthcare companies. He is currently non-executive Chairman of Clinigen plc, Advanced Medical Solutions plc and Diurnal Group plc. Peter was Chairman and interim Chief Executive Officer of ProStrakan Group plc at the time of its £292m acquisition by Kyowa Kirin in 2011 and Chairman of Proximagen Neuroscience plc at the time of its £223m acquisition by Upsher Smith.

From 1992-2004 he was Chief Financial Officer of Celltech Group plc where he played a critical role in managing the company’s flotation and several strategic acquisitions, and was Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the time of the company’s £1.5bn acquisition by UCB in 2004. Peter is a qualified chartered accountant by background and has a joint degree in Accountancy and Law.

“I’m deeply impressed by the progress Istesso has made with its drug programmes and am delighted to be part of the next stage of the company’s development.”

Professor Sir Keith Peters, Non-Executive Director

Professor Sir Keith Peters

Non-Executive Director

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Sir Keith is one of the UK’s most distinguished clinician-scientists, having previously been Regius Professor of Physic and Head of the School of Clinical Medicine at the University of Cambridge. From 2005-2016 he acted as Senior Consultant in R&D at GSK, reporting to the President of R&D, during which time he also served on GSK’s Global Safety Board. Sir Keith served as a non-executive director on the main board of Amersham plc prior to its £5.7bn acquisition by General Electric in 2003 and chaired the company's Scientific Advisory Board. He also served on the Medical Advisory Board of Merck Research Laboratories from 1996-2005.

From 2006-2008 he was interim Director of the MRC National Institute for Medical Research where he played a key role in the conception of the Francis Crick Institute. Sir Keith is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was President of the Academy of Medical Sciences from 2002-2006. His research focused on immuno-inflammatory mechanisms in kidney and blood vessel disease.

“I am thrilled to be involved in this most remarkable biotech firm”

Management

Sam Williams, Chief Executive Officer

Sam Williams

Chief Executive Officer

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Sam is the founding CEO of Istesso and was previously CEO of Modern Biosciences (MBS), now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Istesso. Prior to joining MBS in 2007, Sam was a top-ranked biotech equity analyst in the City of London. Sam is Non-Executive Chairman of C4X Discovery Holdings plc, a non-executive director of Diurnal Group plc and a board member of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA). He holds a PhD in molecular biology from Cambridge and a degree in biology from Oxford.

“There’s nothing more satisfying in biotech than seeing a drug go from the lab to its first use in patients. Doing this with Istesso has been a pleasure, particularly working with the talented team we’ve built.”

Lisa Patel, Chief Scientific Officer

Lisa Patel

Chief Scientific Officer

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Prior to joining Istesso in 2007, Lisa spent 10 years at GlaxoSmithKline as a team leader in the Cardiovascular Centre of Excellence and latterly as a group leader in Clinical Pharmacology and Discovery Medicine. She is a non-executive director of Glythera Ltd and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board of Avacta plc. Lisa has a PhD in molecular genetics, a degree in biochemistry and an MBA.

“It’s hard to imagine anything more rewarding than translating exciting science into treatments with the potential to benefit patients.”

Craig Richardson, Chief Business Officer

Craig Richardson

Chief Business Officer

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Craig has over 15 years' experience working with early-stage life science companies as a Commercial Director in the biotech and medtech sectors and subsequently as an investor with Inventages Venture Capital and IP Group plc. He has executed over 20 major transactions and has expertise in negotiating licensing deals, R&D collaborations and company financing.

“Being able to offer hope to patients is an inspiring responsibility. It’s exciting to believe that Istesso’s programs could change people’s lives.”

Dan Marshall, Business Development Director

Dan Marshall

Business Development Director

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Dan started his career as an immunologist at the National Institute of Medical Research before joining the Business Development team at MRC Technology where he was responsible for in-licensing preclinical drug discovery programs. He holds a PhD in immunology from UCL and is a keen rugby player.

“What we’re building at Istesso has the potential to alter the way we view, and ultimately treat, immune-related diseases; it’s incredibly exciting to play a part in that.”

Gemma Vallance, Operations Manager

Gemma Vallance

Operations Manager

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Gemma manages operations at Istesso. She was previously at Angermann Goddard and Loyd and has a broad experience of working with, and supporting, new biotech companies.

Puneeta Nath, Project Manager

Puneeta Nath

Project Manager

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Puneeta has over 11 years’ experience in drug discovery. She started her career at Novartis as an Investigator and subsequently joined Charles River as a Principal Scientist working on early drug discovery projects for various biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Puneeta has a PhD from Imperial College and a BSc from Kings College, London, and has authored numerous scientific papers.

“At Istesso we devote our time and resources to drug discovery with the aim of positively impacting patients’ lives.”

Consultants

Richard Weaver

Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics

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Richard has an in-depth knowledge of all aspects of In vitro and In vivo Drug Metabolism and Pharmacokinetics, from Hit Identification to Candidate Drug nomination and beyond, gained from over 20 years in the industry. He consults for Istesso on preclinical DMPK, is managing director of XenoGesis Ltd and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

“The team approach and great working relationship ensures we work together closely and consistently to help Istesso achieve its drug discovery goals.”

Steve Smith

Medicinal Chemistry

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Steve advises Istesso on medicinal chemistry. He has over 30 years experience in drug discovery, including many years at GSK. He is the co-inventor of clinical candidates in various therapeutic areas and has been presented with the Society of Chemical Industry’s Distinguished Service Award for the propagation of science in the wider scientific community.

Martyn Foster

Biology and Experimental Pathology

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Martyn is an experimental pathologist and pharmacologist who has spent over 35 years applying cellular pathology techniques to the study of drug efficacy, mechanistic toxicology and translational medicine. He has wide experience across therapeutic areas in both pharma and biotech, including time spent as Head of Pathology at AstraZeneca and Head of In-Vivo Pharmacology and Pathology at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, and as an independent consultant.

Martyn has published and lectured widely on experimental cellular pathology, immunopharmacology and pre-clinical drug profiling.

“Experimental confirmation of a prediction is merely a measurement. An experiment disproving a prediction is a discovery. (Fermi).”

Andy Gray

DMPK and Clinical Pharmacology

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Andy advises Istesso on DMPK and clinical pharmacology. He has over thirty years' experience in Discovery and Development in global pharma including, most recently, AstraZeneca as a Section Manager and Clinical Pharmacology Project Leader. He was a founder member of the British Toxicology Society, a former chairman of the Drug Metabolism Discussion Group and is a pioneer of ‘toxicokinetics’, being one of the first to coin the term.

“Working with the Istesso team is such a buzz. It’s truly collaborative and decisions and actions are virtually instantaneous.”

Hiep Huatan

Pharmaceutical Development

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Hiep is a CMC consultant and Director of H2 Pharma. He has over 20-years’ experience in pharmaceutical product development, specialising in biopharmaceutics, formulation development, process scale-up and regulatory CMC. Prior to this, Hiep was VP of R&D at Phoqus Pharmaceuticals and Head of Formulation at Pfizer Global R&D.

“Istesso is a unique drug discovery and development company, managed and supported by a top-flight team of scientists. It’s a real pleasure to work in such an inspiring environment.”

Mark Graham

Toxicology

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Mark has 30 years’ experience of Pharmaceutical Toxicology, including 19 years at AstraZeneca where he was Senior Principal Scientist and Global Leader for Discovery Toxicology. He is a Fellow of the British Toxicology Society and a Member of the UK government's Committee on Toxicity. Mark remains active in toxicological research and is a member of the editorial board of the journal Xenobiotica.

“It is a pleasure to work with Istesso. The teamwork and science-led approach to drug discovery and development is exceptional.”

Advisers

Professor Jeff Rathmell

Scientific Adviser

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Jeff is Director of the Vanderbilt Center for Immunobiology and the Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor of Immunobiology at the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center. His research is focused on understanding how metabolic pathways regulate CD4 T-cell subsets in inflammatory diseases and how the tumour microenvironment and metabolism impacts anti-cancer responses.

Jeff joined Vanderbilt in 2015, having previously performed post-doctoral studies at the University of Chicago and University of Pennsylvania. He has a PhD in Immunology from Stanford University.

Dr Christian Frezza

Scientific Adviser

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Christian is an MRC Programme Leader at the MRC Cancer Unit, University of Cambridge. His research is focussed on the role of altered metabolism in cancer, particularly how small molecule metabolites affect tumorigenesis, and his group’s goal is to exploit this knowledge in the discovery of novel tools for cancer diagnosis and therapy.

Christian was previously an EMBO Fellow at the Beatson Institute of Cancer Research in Glasgow, where he investigated the role of mitochondrial defects in tumorigenesis. He has an MSc in Medicinal Chemistry and a PhD in mitochondrial dynamics, both from the from the University of Padova, Italy.

Professor Michael Duchen

Scientific Adviser

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Michael is Professor of Physiology at the Faculty of Life Sciences, University College London. His research is focused on the interaction between cell signalling pathways and mitochondria, the various roles of mitochondria in disease and the question of whether mitochondrial pathways represent viable therapeutic targets in a variety of disease states.

Originally trained as a doctor, Michael has been at the UCL Department of Cell and Developmental Biology since completing his PhD in 1984, first as a Royal Society University Research Fellow, then as Reader and Professor.