Dr. Michael Rowley was educated in Cambridge with an MA in Natural Sciences and a PhD in organic chemistry with Ian Fleming. He then moved to Harvard for a postdoctoral fellowship with Yoshito Kishi in the field of total synthesis. More
He started his drug discovery career with MSD (known as Merck in the USA) at the Neuroscience Research Centre in the UK where he worked on G-protein coupled receptor and ion channel targets for the treatment of stroke, depression, anxiety and schizophrenia. His last role with MSD in the UK was leading the discovery effort for a novel pain target.
Mike then moved within MSD to the Istituto di Ricerche di Biologia Molecolare (IRBM) in Rome, Italy where he headed the Medicinal Chemistry and DMPK departments. He built these to a total size of around 80 PhD and MSc scientists, recruiting across Europe. The team firstly worked on antivirals, discovering Isentress™ (raltegravir) the first in class HIV Integrase inhibitor and grazoprevir, an HCV protease inhibitor which is a component of Zepatier™. Latterly the worked focussed more on oncology, particularly epigenetics, developmental pathways and DNA repair. It was from this work that Zejula™ (niraparib), a PARP inhibitor used for the treatment of ovarian cancer, arose.
With the closure of IRBM, Mike moved to head the Medicinal Chemistry department for AstraZeneca in Gothenburg, Sweden, with a team of up to 150 chemists working in cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
His last role in a major Pharma company was back with MSD in a global role responsible for Medicinal Chemistry scientific strategy across the Merck/MSD sites. He was based in Luzern Switzerland, but worked with all the Merck Discovery sites globally. In this role he was also the Medicinal Chemistry representative on DDRC, the Merck governance body responsible for projects from inception to candidate nomination.
On his return to the UK Mike took on a role with Pharmaron, a major Chinese CRO, to set up a small molecule Drug Discovery team in the UK. He built an outstanding team, started several projects with collaborators, and oversaw the design of state-of-the-art labs.
He became an independent consultant in Medicinal Chemistry in early 2019 and works with charities, Universities, CRO’s, Biotechs and law firms in very diverse roles including due diligence, expert advice on patents, project strategy reviews and detailed medicinal chemistry leadership on specific projects.
Mike has over 100 publications in peer-reviewed journal, more than 40 patent applications, and has been an invited speaker at international conferences. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, has been awarded the ACS Heroes of Chemistry Award and in 2017 was inducted into the ACS Medicinal Chemistry Division Hall of Fame.