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Rob Howes

Senior Director and Site Head, Saffron Walden 

Rob joined Charles River after spending the last 3 years as part of the UK’s response to Covid-19. From May 2021 he was CEO and Site Director of the Rosalind Franklin Laboratory in Leamington Spa, UK providing the key Covid-19 PCR testing capacity for the UK (over 175,000 PCR tests/day) as part of the UK Health Security Agency. From March 2020 to April 2021, he was Director of the Cambridge Covid-19 Testing Centre which also provided PCR testing capacity to the UK Government Lighthouse Lab testing programme in the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.


Rob was at AstraZeneca from 2013 to 2021 initially working at MedImmune, Cambridge as part of Antibody Discovery and Protein Engineering (ADPE) where he led the Biologics Profiling team. From 2016 he led part of the Discovery Biology department within the Biopharmaceuticals organisation. The group, based in Gothenburg, Sweden, supported early stage drug discovery projects providing reagents and assays with a focus on cardiovascular, metabolic and respiratory disease areas. He also served on the Respiratory Research Board delivering all projects from Target Identification through to Phase II.


Rob started his industrial career at Vernalis, a UK biotech company focused on developing cancer therapeutics using structure-based drug design. He held various positions culminating in leading the High Throughput Screening group as well as impacting on several small molecule research programmes. In 2008 he was a founding employee at Horizon Discovery a UK biotech company developing the rAAV genome editing technology as Research Director. He built several teams and labs in the UK and Italy and led collaborations with over 50 academic groups across the globe.


Rob has multiple publications and has been an invited speaker/presenter at over 30 scientific conferences. He is heavily involved with the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) where he serves on the editorial board of the SLAS Discovery journal, hosts the SLAS Discovery podcast and has advised and chaired at several conferences including SLAS annual conferences. At the end of 2020 he was nominated as a SLAS Fellow in recognition of his contributions to the Society. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.


In his role, Rob will lead the HTS/Hit ID team and the Enabling Platforms team within Discovery UK. 

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