I have recently returned from my PhD Case placement at the Novartis Institutes for Tropical Disease (NITD) who recently relocated to Emeryville California. NITD drug discovery is focused in 3 areas; malaria, cryptosporidiosis and kinetoplastid diseases.
My PhD project has been to identify drug-like inhibitors that inhibit an enzyme that has been identified as a target for the kinetoplastid pathogen that causes African sleeping sickness, trypanosoma brucei. Whilst on my placement at NITD I was fortunate to work alongside scientists that have been involved with identifying drug candidates against the same pathogen, and have parasite assays in place to examine the effects of drug molecules against them. I was able to culture the live parasite and it was exciting to see that the compounds that I had designed and synthesised during my PhD inhibited the growth of the parasite.
During my time at NITD I was also able to work in the research chemistry laboratories, synthesising further analogues against my enzyme target, it was a great opportunity to work in a cutting edge research environment with a variety of instruments that facilitated day to day chemistry experiments. Over the course of my placement I was able to identify new chemical analogues that showed improved potency against the parasite, that I am currently following up back at the Sussex Drug Discovery Centre.
At the weekends I was able to do a bit of travelling around California, some of the highlights were visiting Yosemite national park (above), cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge and visiting Alcatraz.
Blog written by Ryan West