VP, Head of Early Discovery at Charles River Laboratories
Jackie obtained her degree and PhD at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow. A medicinal chemist by training, Jackie has over 30 years’ experience, with more than 20 years concentrating on drug discovery within a CRO environment. During her career, Jackie has managed collaborative programs with major pharmaceutical and specialist biotech companies, in all phases from hit finding through to late-stage lead optimization leading to preclinical candidate nomination and the preclinical package required for IND submission. She has worked on a broad range of molecular targets including kinases, GPCRs, ion channels, proteases and transporters, across a number of therapeutic areas including CNS, anti-infectives, inflammation, fibrosis, COPD and cough. Jackie is author on 45 patent applications and peer-reviewed publications.
Jackie joined Charles River in 2014 as a Senior Director in medicinal chemistry through the acquisition of BioFocus. She is now VP, Head of Early Discovery at Charles River Laboratories , a group that comprises around 700 staff based at 6 sites across the UK, The Netherlands and Belgium. In this role, Jackie is accountable for the strategic direction, operational success and continued growth of the early discovery business.
Advanced Modalities and Site Head
Omar Aziz joined the Charles River Portishead site as Site Director in July 2022. Between 2020 and 2022, Omar managed the South San Francisco site, including the Discovery and Antibody Discovery teams. Previously he was Senior Director of Biology at the Charles River Harlow and Chesterford Park research sites in the UK.
Prior to joining Charles River in 2014 following the acquisition of the BioFocus and Argenta Discover sites, he worked as a research scientist at Pfizer UK Ltd. and Lectus Therapeutics, a boutique biotech company, where he managed projects across multiple therapeutic areas. Omar received his PhD from the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 2001 followed by three years of post-doctoral training in the USA at NIEHS, Research Triangle Park. North Carolina, before starting a career in drug discovery at Pfizer, UK.
Omar also leads an Advanced Modalities group within Discovery, growing and aligning our capabilities in Cell, Gene and ASO/siRNA therapeutics enabling novel approaches to meet medical needs. Our goal for the advanced modalities division is to enable end-to-end therapeutic capabilities for non-small molecule approaches to meet patient needs across Charles River.
Head of Small Molecule
Nicole Hamblin is Head of Small Molecule Drug Discovery within Discovery at Charles River. She holds a Chemistry degree and a PhD, both from Oxford University. Prior to joining Charles River in 2017, Nicole spent 20 years at GlaxoSmithKline as a medicinal chemist and cross discipline project leader, delivering multiple clinical candidates and leading the identification and progression of respiratory asset nemiralisib from hit ID into Phase IIb trials.
Nicole has over 55 patents and peer-reviewed publications to her name, and in 2014 she won the Royal Society of Chemistry Capps Green Zomaya Award for medicinal chemistry. She was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2017 and currently sits on the RSC Organic Division Council and Medical Research Council grant review panels.
Small Molecule Drug Discovery is a cross-discipline team of over 200 talented scientists spanning Chemistry, Biology, DMPK, CADD, and Pharmaceutical Development, who are engaged in all aspects of drug discovery from hit identification to pre-clinical development. Working together as drug discovery experts, the team prides itself on scientific quality as evidenced by an impressive track record of over 90 pre-clinical candidates discovered for our partners.
Alongside project work, the group strives to stay at the forefront of small molecule drug discovery, building capabilities and investing in new technologies in line with the latest developments in the field.
Head of Discovery Sciences
Marijn Vlaming is trained as a biomedical engineer and holds a PhD in Medicine from The Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam. After her PhD, she worked as a senior scientist at the research institute TNO. In 2015, Marijn moved to the biotech company Pluriomics (now Ncardia), where she was VP Technology. Since 2018, Marijn works at Charles River, where she currently holds the position of Head of Discovery Sciences.
Discovery Sciences focuses on developing platforms and technologies which are required for early discovery research. The team members based in The Netherlands and the UK, are all involved in applying state of the art technologies such as in vitro disease biology including ADME, molecular biology, high throughput screening, high content imaging, structural biology, and bioinformatics for target and hit identification.
Jeroen De Groot
Dr. Jeroen DeGroot holds a MSc in Biology (with honors, Leiden University) and a PhD in Medicine (Utrecht University Medical Center). After his PhD he joined the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), where he held varius management positions.
Initially working on in vitro and in vivo models as well as translational biomarkers for inflammatory & degenerative diseases, and later as head of the department of pharmacokinetics and human studies. In 2013, Jeroen joined Galapagos/BioFocus as Director of Cell Biology, overseeing the contract research activities which were acquired by Charles River.
Currently Jeroen serves as COO for CRL Early Discovery and combines that with his role as Site Director for CRL Leiden. Jeroen published >100 scientific papers, reviews and book chapters, and supervised 6 PhD students. He is member of the Orthopaedic Research Society, the American College of Rheumatology, and the Osteoarthritis Research Society International.