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13 February, 2018 - 10:08 By Kate Sweeney

Lifetime achievement award for Astex co-founder

Dr Harren Jhoti, co-founder of Astex and president and CEO of Astex Pharmaceuticals (UK) has been honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA).

Astex Pharmaceuticals is dedicated to the discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics for oncology and diseases of the central nervous system.

The BIA Lifetime Achievement Award recognises outstanding contribution to the life sciences sector in the UK. The award was presented to Dr Jhoti by BIA chair Dr Jane Osbourn of MedImmune.

The award is made in recognition of Dr Jhoti’s scientific contributions to the UK life science sector, his entrepreneurial approach and his commitment to scaling and supporting UK biotech. Dr Jhoti steered Astex to become one of the UK’s most successful biotech companies. 

Employing some 130 staff at its research headquarters in Cambridge and over 200 worldwide, including at its clinical development and regulatory HQ in California, Astex is an independent wholly-owned subsidiary of Otsuka Pharmaceutical of Japan with a focus on cancer and diseases of the central nervous system.

The company has applied its leading fragment-based discovery platform and other technologies to the development of an internal pipeline of proprietary novel therapies and several partnered products are being developed under collaborations with leading pharmaceutical companies.

2017 was a pivotal year for the company with Kisqali® (ribociclib, formerly known as LEE011), a drug co-discovered under a partnership with Novartis receiving marketing approval in the US and Europe as a treatment for advanced (metastatic) breast cancer.

Dr Jhoti said: “As scientists we always hope that our discoveries will make a difference and as entrepreneurs we strive to build sustainable companies to translate those discoveries into significant new medicines for patients. At Astex we have been lucky enough to achieve both of these goals due largely to our highly talented team. 

“These achievements have been made possible by playing an active part in the life sciences community in Cambridge and the UK and I’m delighted and humbled to have received this award from the BIA.”

Jane Osbourn added: “Harren’s contribution to the UK biotech sector recognises his combination of scientific and leadership skills, as well as his passion and determination to succeed. 

“He has risen to the challenges of driving in-novation, developing prod-uctive partnerships, raising investment capital and motivating a team. He makes an active contribution to initiatives in the UK biotech sector and provides a role model for today’s entrepreneurs.”

• PHOTOGRAPH: BIA chair Dr Jane Osbourn of MedImmune presents the Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr Harren Jhoti

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