An Aberdeen life scientist at high-growth biotech company, Elasmogen has secured a prestigious national leadership fellowship from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
Obinna Ubah, the Lead Scientist in Autoimmune Inflammatory Disease Drug Discovery at Elasmogen, has been awarded a Future Leaders Fellowship by UKRI – part of £16.5 million of funding announced by the UK Government for Scotland’s most promising future science leaders.
Dr Ubah will lead a project at Elasmogen to deliver a new type of therapy that overcomes the limitations of traditional antibody therapies currently used to treat autoimmune diseases, like arthritis and Crohn’s disease. The new drugs developed by Dr Ubah will be capable of being used to treat more than one kind of disease, will not require an injection, and will not themselves trigger an adverse immune response. This means they will be able to be used for a much longer period than antibody therapies to treat serious autoimmune diseases.
Future Leaders Fellowships provide funding over four to seven years to support talented people in universities, businesses, and other research and innovation environments. The scheme aims to develop the next wave of world-class research and innovation leaders in academia and industry.
Dr Ubah holds a BPharm degree from the University of Benin, Nigeria. He relocated to Scotland in 2010 where he obtained an MSc in Clinical Pharmacology and PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Aberdeen. In his current role, Dr Ubah uses his protein engineering skills to exploit the robustness of Elasmogen’s proprietary soloMER technology to develop novel, disruptive and super-potent multifunctional drug modalities for the treatment of chronic diseases.
Elasmogen is part of the thriving biologics cluster in Aberdeen. The company is rapidly progressing a pipeline of next-generation biologics for the treatment of solid-tumour cancers, systemic inflammatory diseases and inflammatory conditions of the gut.
Dr Ubah said: “This Future Leaders Fellowship gives me and my prospective team the opportunity to work across sector and discipline, build new partnerships and network. With the significant level of funding and flexibility provided, my team and I will be in a stronger position to tackle and deliver on high-risk but disruptive research activities and move faster with the drug discovery and development process. The ultimate outcome would include delivering disruptive biologics innovation closer to the patient’s bedside and establishing myself and my team as global key opinion leader in the field of autoimmune inflammatory diseases drug discovery.”
Caroline Barelle, CEO of Elasmogen Ltd, said: “The fellowship is fantastic news for Obinna and Elasmogen. It will support his continuing professional development, research commercialisation and contribute to the development of the business.
“Elasmogen is at a key point in its evolution. We have demonstrated the power of our soloMER technology to deliver potent anti-cancer drug candidates, and breakthrough orally delivered biologic therapeutics for inflammatory disease. The hard work and commitment from our team have built the foundation for our current Series A investment round, which will enable the company to grow, to recruit more talent and to bolster our drugs pipeline.”
UK Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “We are putting science and innovation at the heart of our efforts to build back better from COVID-19, empowering our scientific leaders of tomorrow to drive forward game-changing research and helping to secure the UK’s status as a global science superpower.”
UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Dame Ottoline Leyser, said: “I am delighted that UKRI is able to support the next generation of research and innovation leaders through our Future Leaders Fellowship programme. The new Fellows announced today will have the support and freedom they need to pursue their research and innovation ideas, delivering new knowledge and understanding and tackling some of the greatest challenges of our time.”
Scotland's £6 billion life sciences industry is growing by more than 10% a year and employs 2,500 people in and around Aberdeen. Action and investment to realise the industry's ambition to double the region's company cluster will drive green economic recovery and create new jobs.
The industry ambition for north east Scotland is to build a dynamic cluster and location for life sciences businesses by stimulating increased innovation, collaboration and commercialisation. Opportunity North East leads the delivery of the £40 million BioHub under construction on the Foresterhill Health Campus. It will be home to up to 400 scientific entrepreneurs in start-up and scaling businesses. BioHub is part-funded by the UK Government and Scottish Government via the Aberdeen City Region Deal and Opportunity North East and delivered in partnership with the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian.
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