Within our team are a number of highly experienced, PhD qualified staff who are skilled in all aspects of protein expression and purification, protein crystallisation and structure determination, particularly in the presence of ligands. Find out more about us below.
Mark is the founder and CEO of Peak Proteins. Prior to that he worked for over 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry as a protein biochemist in AstraZeneca. He led teams providing protein expression and purification expertise into drug discovery projects in multiple different research areas in both small molecule and biologics projects. He has managed both technology and biologics drug discovery projects within global Pharma. Mark has always been an enthusiast for science and its application to progressing drug discovery projects. He has more than 30 peer reviewed publications on a very wide range of proteins and their use particularly in drug discovery. When not working Mark is often to be found on a bike commuting to work, riding for leisure up a hill in the Peak District or racing in a time trial, sadly a lot slower than a few years ago.
Born in the Scottish Borders Derek went to university planning become a marine biologist but after discovering he did not like being cold and wet decided on a career that would keep him indoors so studied biochemistry and biophysics instead. After finishing his Ph.D at Leeds University he moved to Uppsala Sweden to work as a protein crystallographer for a small start-up biotech. Almost 20 years later and much to his surprise he was still in Sweden happily married to a native and with two children and a Volvo. After working at Pharmacia and the Structure Genomics Consortium he returned to the UK where he continues to suffer from the resulting culture shock. He worked for a further 10 years at AstraZeneca before joining Peak Proteins as the CSO. He still has a Volvo.
Potent and selective bivalent inhibitors of BET bromodomains. Nat Chem Biol. 2016, 12(12):1097-1104. Waring MJ, Chen H, Rabow AA, Walker G, Bobby R, Boiko S, Bradbury RH, Callis R, Clark E, Dale I, Daniels DL, Dulak A, Flavell L, Holdgate G, Jowitt TA, Kikhney A, McAlister M, Méndez J, Ogg D, Patel J, Petteruti P, Robb GR, Robers MB, Saif S, Stratton N, Svergun DI, Wang W, Whittaker D, Wilson DM, Yao Y.
Enjoying all the sciences at school (secretly wanting to be an astronaut) Tina finally opted for chemistry degree, completing it with a research year in biochemistry. Subsequent research work has covered the range of sciences from biophysics to pharmacy and biological sciences. Fungal secondary metabolites, bio-transformation enzymes, and rainbow arrays of photosynthetic bacteria have all played their part. From the latter came lots of colourful membranes and beautiful protein crystals with structures and she was hooked. Moving from academia to industry, she joined the Structural Chemistry Group at AstraZeneca. After over a decade applying x-ray crystallography to structural based drug design projects there, she joined Peak Proteins in its early days (employee number 3). As befits the criteria for the company, she is also a cyclist (albeit part-time these days). She keeps active with Step, Body Attack and Body Combat classes. And weekends are spent watching kids’ sports, hiking up hills and dabbling in the greenhouse, garden and kitchen.
It was a 10 week lab project in her final year at St Andrews University that changed the course of Hazel’s planned career with Edinburgh District council to ultimately a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Various roles have included the application of new gene expression systems for target validation and protein production, through to leading bioscience activities in breast cancer projects entering Ph I clinical trials. After leaving AstraZeneca, Hazel took on some project management work for a local charity and a full-time mum role to her two teenage daughters and a newly acquired Springer Spaniel. However, only the Springer was really happy with the full time attention so, looking for a new science focused challenge, Hazel joined Peak Proteins to lead their scientific business development activities. Her girls are now missing the taxi service that could drop off forgotten homework and sports kits at anytime of the day!
Activating ESR1 Mutations Differentially Affect the Efficacy of ER Antagonists Cancer Discov. 2017, 7(3):277-287. Weiyi Toy, Hazel Weir, Pedram Razavi, Mandy Lawson, Anne U. Goeppert, Anne Marie Mazzola, Aaron Smith, Joanne Wilson, Christopher Morrow, Wai Lin Wong, Elisa De Stanchina, Kathryn E. Carlson, Teresa S. Martin, Sharmeen Uddin, Zhiqiang Li, Sean Fanning, John A. Katzenellenbogen, Geoffrey Greene, José Baselga and Sarat Chandarlapaty.
Helen has many years of experience in both the production of pure protein and protein crystallisation for structural studies to support structure-based drug design across a range of clinical targets. She has experience of successful fragment-based-screening by protein crystallography.
Helen worked for AstraZeneca in their Protein Science and Structural Biology groups for 15 years. This was followed by a short spell of 1½ years at the University of Manchester, in research involving tissue culture and microbiology, before joining Peak Proteins.
Ian entered the world of work having no idea what he wanted to do. After a year working as a salesman for a TV rental company both parties realised this was one career to cross off his list. He joined ICI and found that he enjoyed the practical lab work particularly the “fiddly things” that could irritate some. With more than 20 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry he has a broad knowledge of protein expression using E. coli, insect and mammalian cells and he gets great satisfaction from trying to make these systems work as efficiently and reliably as possible. However he understands that the starting point for all protein purification scientists is that the level of expression is low which then makes their subsequent purifications really interesting! He enjoys the outdoors, walking, gardening while listening to bird song in the spring. He is not so keen on watching long ball football matches and leaving the borough.
Despite initially wanting to be a ballet dancer, Catherine was clearly destined for a career in science. Age 4 one of her favourite games was testing what dissolves (her notes from the time show Allbran doesn’t!). After studying Biochemistry with German, she joined AstraZeneca where she gained over 18 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry. Catherine worked at all phases of the drug discovery process, developing high quality cellular screening assays and clinical biomarker assays on a variety of platforms, for a number of key Oncology programs. Most recently she worked in the Oncology Translational Science group, before joining Peak Proteins. Outside of work, her dreams of tutus have been swapped for a muddy football pitch as she cheers on her children, although she does enjoy the occasional moment on the stage singing with a choir.
High-Level Clonal FGFR Amplification and Response to FGFR Inhibition in a Translational Clinical Trial Cancer Discov. 2016 Aug; 6(8): 838–851. Alex Pearson, Elizabeth Smyth, Irina S. Babina, Maria Teresa Herrera-Abreu, Noelia Tarazona, Clare Peckitt, Elaine Kilgour, Neil R. Smith, Catherine Geh, Claire Rooney, Ros Cutts, James Campbell, Jian Ning, Kerry Fenwick, Amanda Swain, Gina Brown, Sue Chua, Anne Thomas, Stephen R.D. Johnston, Mazhar Ajaz, Katherine Sumpter, Angela Gillbanks, David Watkins, Ian Chau, Sanjay Popat, David Cunningham, and Nicholas C. Turner
Margaret came to the UK as an international sandwich student from the Netherlands with the idea to gain a year’s work experience in the pharmaceutical industry and have a break from her demanding training schedule as a heptathlete in athletics. Enjoying her student time and new-found freedom so much, she decided to stay, resulting in a career at AstraZeneca that lasted nearly 20 years. She worked across all phases of the drug discovery process, becoming an expert in cell culture techniques, therapeutic antibody development and biomarker approaches within Oncology.
Gaining a husband and starting a family along the way meant the UK couldn’t quite get rid of her and a secondment with her family to Reims (France) didn’t do the trick either. The decision not to move to Cambridge with AstraZeneca in 2016 was turned into an opportunity to change direction and pursue her artistic abilities. Margaret successfully completed an Art & Design foundation degree and continued to develop her painting skills at her home studio, thoroughly enjoying making customers happy with her commissions.
Missing working as a team, having banter in the lab and frankly some routine in her life, resulted in her come-back to science. The combination of art with science seems like her perfect world, still keeping an interest in athletics but now as a coach to support her daughter.
Giles has considerable experience working with proteins, having spent much of his career in the pharmaceutical industry. In his more abstract musings he would have you believe he is a real action man, and could easily have made it as a professional mountain-biker, surfer, and snowboarder (all rolled into one!), whilst at the same time travelling the World on his motorcycle! Back in the real World however, an early interest in Biology led to him studying Biochemistry at university, before entering the fast-paced and challenging world of drug discovery.
Early in his career Giles spent 2 years at Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, before moving to Astrazeneca, where he stayed for 22 years. This was followed by a short spell in academia, working at the University of Manchester, before joining Peak Proteins. He has worked on a wide variety of drug discovery programs, supplying proteins for assay screens and structural study campaigns, and throughout his career he has always been happiest when in the lab, and very much enjoys the practical nature of his role. Over the years Giles has contemplated alternative practical careers, such as bicycle mechanic, and blacksmith, and yet after many years in the field he still remains a committed protein scientist – always up for a challenge!
Apart from a teenage son, Giles doesn’t have any pets. However he does own a good number of bicycles, and has been known to bring one or two into the house when the weather turns cold! He takes the view, “If you are good to them, they’ll be good to you!” …and applies that philosophy to his proteins too!
Anna started her career in the Protein Science group at AstraZeneca, developing protein purification methods and supplying proteins to support a wide range of key drug discovery projects for assays and structural studies. After spending 18 years tending to her proteins, a 5 year spell within QA/QC labs followed, developing and validating QC methods for small drug molecules. Frustrated by strict GMP and endless documentation, she itched to return to the relative freedom of research and joined Peak Proteins in Jan 2017 to get back to the interesting science. Outside of work Anna is likely to be found fruitlessly limiting kids Playstation time, listening to 80’s and Indie music, and spending as much time in Turkey as possible, preferably with an adequate supply of cava.
Juli has 15 years experience working in the pharmaceutical industry, specialising in the supply of recombinant proteins and validated tool antibodies to support drug discovery projects, from target validation through to clinical trials.
Immediately before joining Peak Proteins Juli worked at AstraZeneca for 15 years, based in Reagent Supply teams. Prior to working at AstraZeneca, she spent several years in academia and government science, researching membrane lipases and storage proteins.
Jon has spent over 24 years, man and boy, in drug discovery. During this life sentence he has used his time well and gained a wealth of experience in protein expression, purification and characterisation. He has supported projects from across the disease areas and been let out for good behaviour a number of times to both assay development and protein crystallisation capabilities which has given him a rounded perspective of what is needed for these protein deliveries. A glutton for punishment, Jon joins Peak Protein after working for AstraZeneca in protein supply, most recently providing mass spectrometry support to enable whole protein characterisation. When not chiselling away at the protein purification coal face in the lab, Jon spends his weekend pushed to the limits keeping up with his high octane 4-year old and Tibetan terrier, Pepper. Keen to deliver the best quality protein product to the client Jon will often be heard in the lab saying, ”Protein science- best decision I ever made!”
Steve is interested in protein biochemistry, bikes and beer (not necessarily in that order). His academic journey begun at the University of Sheffield where, for better or worse, he discovered the world of protein biochemistry and structural biology. He thought it would be a great idea to do a PhD in this field, but not content on a regular difficulty PhD, he pitted himself against the formidable challenge of membrane protein structural biology. Following four years of caffeine fueled hard graft he graduated from the University of Cambridge, taking his hard-won skills to the University of Leeds to work on membrane proteins for a bit longer. Finally, after 11 years at Uni he decided it was time to stop being a student and find a real job (and possibly work on less obstinate projects). With a couple of stops along the way in Big Pharma such as GSK and Novartis, he found his way to Peak Proteins. When not heading up the Peak Proteins peloton, Steve tries his hand at all stages of the Peak Proteins workflow: from expression, through purification, all the way to crystallisation and structure determination. Membrane proteins forever remain in his heart.
With the team at Peak Proteins being relatively small, I try my hand at lots of different things throughout the protein delivery pipeline. I’ve helped write customer quotes, expressed protein, purified and crystallised bucket loads of protein and helped solve an X-ray structure or two. However, my main speciality is working with membrane proteins, and I’ve started to focus on building Peak Protein’s capabilities around generating and working with these tricky targets.
It was a close tie between Science and Art. I love understanding how and why things work the way they do, and I also enjoy symmetry, patterns and order. This is probably why I’m a structural biologist, always trying to determine beautiful protein structures.
The Nobel Prize winner Peter Mitchell who hypothesised the chemiosmotic theory, which is a description of how a proton motive force – potential energy stored as a difference in concentration and charge of protons across a biological membrane – can be used to drive biochemical reactions such as the synthesis of ATP. His work was ridiculed at first as his theory did not fit the biochemical schemes of cellular metabolism known at the time from glycolysis and he was forced to self-publish all of his work as the academic journals would not accept it.
After realising an academic career wasn’t what I wanted long term, I was looking for a change of pace that would allow me to continue working on interesting challenges in science but cut out all of the frustrations that go along with working in academic science. After experiencing work in a big pharmaceutical company during my undergraduate placement year, I didn’t feel like that was the right fit either. Instead, Peak Proteins looked to offer the best of both worlds: a collaborative and dynamic work environment in a small team without the need to constantly apply for grant funding.
When I’m not in the lab I’m normally riding my bike up and down hills in the Peak District or walking my dog. I’ve competed in amateur level local cycle races, and sometimes I even ride my bike after swimming and before running…
After studying biotechnology at the University of Salamanca in Spain, Raquel moved to Manchester to do a 3-month internship in the biotech company Epistem Ltd., where she ended up staying for over 2 years doing mainly qPCR related work. Longing to pursue a career in protein science, she embarked on a PhD at the University of East Anglia, landing upon by chance an X-ray crystallography project which, luckily, she ended up enjoying very much. From the years of her PhD, Raquel gained experience in all aspects of X-ray crystallography, from construct design to structure solution. After her PhD, she missed the north of England and wanted to keep expanding her protein science and structural biology skills, so she joined the University of Sheffield as a postdoc for a short period, in which she gained experience in cryo-EM, before making her way to Peak Proteins to work as a protein scientist. When not in the lab, Raquel enjoys cooking (and eating!), hiking, spending time in the garden, reading and travelling.
Rachel has over 20 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry, working primarily in protein analysis including N-terminal sequencing and protein mass spectrometry. Rachel has a wealth of experience in biological mass spectrometry particularly in proteomics and protein characterisation and joins us from AstraZeneca’s Protein Science group.
AZD9291, an irreversible EGFR TKI, overcomes T790M-mediated resistance to EGFR inhibitors in lung cancer Cancer. Discov. 2014 4(9):1046-6. Darren A.E.Cross, Susan E.Ashton, SerbanGhiorghiu, CathEberlein, Caroline A.Nebhan, Paula J.Spitzler, Jonathon P.Orme, M. Raymond V.Finlay, Richard A.Ward, Martine J.Mellor, GarethHughes, AmarRahi, Vivien N.Jacobs, Monica RedBrewer, EikiIchihara, JingSun, HailingJin, PeterBallard, KatherineAl-Kadhimi, RachelRowlinson,TeresaKlinowska, Graham H.P.Richmond, MireilleCantarini, Dong-WanKim, Malcolm R.Ranson and WilliamPao
Originally from Leeds, Roisin studied at the University of Manchester, graduating with an MSci in Biochemistry. Having adjusted to life the other side of the Pennines she decided to stay in Manchester and start a career in protein science finding a great role at Peak Proteins.
Aside from science Roisin enjoys football and the occasional pint. A lifelong Leeds United and Ireland fan has meant years of suffering. Both teams seem to struggle with scoring goals, however she remains optimistic that both will be successful soon.
Cynara began life as a research chemist and grew up in the chemical industry and then worked in the medical devices industry for some years. Always working for small divisions and companies, Cynara gained experience of new product development, quality, production control and manufacturing and was a member of various management teams. She finally succumbed to the dark side and moved into marketing. From marketing research to full-service marketing management to strategy development, her marketing experience has spanned some 20 years. Cynara strongly believes that marketing is more a science than a black art and that marketing should be process driven and evidence based. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and CIM qualified. Hobbies include growing vegetables and eating chocolate.
Liz started her career working in a hospital diagnostic virology lab, before moving to university academic research where she gained her molecular biology, protein expression and protein purification experience. A career at AstraZeneca followed, where she designed constructs and expressed and purified proteins to support structural studies and assays in a wide variety of drug discovery projects. After a 2 year secondment in the Regulatory group at AstraZeneca, realising that she missed the science, Liz returned to the lab, joining Peak Proteins in 2020.
Potent and selective bivalent inhibitors of BET bromodomains. Nature Chemical Biology. 2016 12(12):1097-1104. Waring M, Chen H, Rabow A, Walker G, Bobby R, Boiko S, Bradbury R, Callis R, Clark E, Dale I, Daniels D, Dulak A, Flavell L, Holdgate G, Jowitt T, Kikhney A, McAlister M, Méndez J, Ogg D, Patel J, Petteruti P, Robb G, Robers M, Saif S, Stratton N, Svergun D, Wang W, Whittaker D, Wilson D, Yao Y.
Tomas is originally from Lithuania where he obtained a degree in Biochemistry from Vilnius University. Wanting to see and do more science, Tomas came to the University of Manchester to complete an MSc, followed by a PhD. After finishing his PhD project, which involved chimeric protein design, production, and analysis in search for a malaria vaccine, Tomas continued his academic career in the University as a post-doc, focusing on cryo-EM analysis of translation initiation factors. Wanting a more dynamic environment and the possibility of a longer term career in lab, Tomas decided to move to industry and joined the Protein Science team in AstraZeneca, where he designed constructs and produced proteins to support various early drug discovery projects. Due to his love of hills in the North and the dread of moving with three little daughters, Tomas wanted to stay in Manchester after AZ’s move to Cambridge, and so joined Peak Proteins. In the little spare time he has, Tomas enjoys hiking, rock climbing, cycling, beer and basketball. Not all at the same time though!
Looking back, it is often small random events that determine a person’s path in life. A clerical error at university meant that Richard ended up doing the only final year project left on offer – “purification and characterisation of ovotransferrin protein”. That allowed him to somehow blag through an interview at ICI pharmaceuticals and secure a job in the protein science group and from there he never looked back. However, as far as he can tell, in 17 wonderful years, Richard never made ICI / Zeneca / AstraZeneca a single penny. “Find Failure Faster” became his mantra. During this time his great love of the outdoors continued to grow and he was lucky enough to kayak many of the World’s wilder rivers. Following a break to do an MSc in Renewable Energy, there was a short, but hugely rewarding time with BioHydrogen Ltd. After that Richard spent several years in the weird space between research and manufacturing as part of the biopharmaceutical development team at Eli Lilly / Elanco. Now he has returned “home” to Alderley Park with Peak Proteins. A wee bit more settled now, he is often found out in the hills with his family and collie dog.