Friday, September 11, 2009

Professor R. Wayne Davies

Welcome to Wayne Davies who joins us as an Honorary Professor.
Wayne has a unique combination of international level scientific achievement with extensive business experience in the field of biotechnology. After studying medicine at Cambridge he was caught up in the molecular biology revolution and switched to pure science, working with Sydney Brenner in Cambridge, Bill Dove in Madison and Benno Muller-Hill in Cologne before going solo. Work on gene regulation and integration of lambda bacteriophage, including publication of the integration site sequence, was followed by a move into eukaryotes and a series of key contributions to molecular biology of filamentous fungal systems, including the first transfection method and mitochondrial genome structure. His group discovered fungal self-splicing introns, and he published the first secondary structure of a ribozyme, and the internal guide sequence model for splice-site selection, which also explained how the Tetrahymena intron (for the discovery of which Tom Cech got a Nobel) actually worked. For this work he was elected a member of EMBO, and then moved into the biotech industry as Vice-President for Science of Canada’s then flagship biotechnology company, Allelix Biopharmaceuticals, where he managed a staff of 70 scientists for six years. Academic work since returning to the UK to become Professor of Biotechnology at the University of Glasgow has focussed on molecular neuroscience (neurodegeneration mechanisms, CNS myelin studies) and more recently on tissue ageing and the discovery with Dr. Paul Shiels of a new type of repair stimulator cell with real therapeutic potential for diabetes and other organ-damage diseases.
Wayne has increasingly focussed on applied science, licensing opportunities and spin-out companies. With Kim Kaiser and Alun Davies he spun out Neuropa Ltd. and ran that company as CEO for 5 years. He was then seconded as CEO to UmanGenomics AB of Umeå, Sweden for two years. In these roles he had hands-on experience of biotechnology company management, Board membership, multi-round fundraising from venture capital and local Angel sources and interaction with major pharmaceutical companies. He recently found US investors to form Pathfinder LLC to exploit the potential of repair-stimulator cells.
His involvement with the University of Edinburgh and Informatics began when he joined with Douglas Armstrong to develop the Brainwave project into a commercial venture. This will result in the near future in the spinning out of Brainwave-Discovery Ltd., a company that provides custom assay development services for the pharmaceutical industry and will develop novel technology platforms for CNS drug discovery. As a result, Wayne expects to spend more time in Edinburgh, and is looking forward to providing any help to colleagues that is congruent with his experience, whether in mammalian neuroscience and stem cell biology or in company formation and development.

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