Edinburgh Research Explorer

Prof Asier Unciti-Broceta

Personal Chair of Medicinal Chemistry

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Willingness to take PhD students: Yes


2018-      Professor of Medicinal Chemistry, Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, UoE

2015-18  Reader in Medicinal Chemistry, Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, UoE

2010-15  Academic Fellow-Group Leader, Edinburgh Cancer Research Centre, UoE

2008-10  Scottish Enterprise Research Fellow, School of Chemistry, UoE

2005-08  Postdoc, School of Chemistry, UoE

2000-04  PhD, Dept of Medicinal Chemistry, University of Granada (Spain)

1994-99  MPharm, University of Granada (Spain)

Asier is a life scientist that, having organic and medicinal chemistry at the centre of his career, has gathered extensive research experience across several fields of the chemical sciences from working and collaborating with prestigious laboratories in Spain, Italy and the UK. His involvement in both academia and industry has enabled him to build a balanced skillset in basic science and translational research. By bridging novel concepts in chemical biology with integrative approaches in medicinal chemistry, his group is developing innovative strategies for cancer research and therapy. He serves as Associate Editor of Frontiers in Chemistry (specialty Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry), as Principal Investigator (MedChem) of the Edinburgh Drug Discovery and as the Chemistry Director of the Edinburgh Cancer Discovery Unit.

Asier received his academic degrees from the University of Granada (Spain): an MPharm in Pharmaceutical Sciences (1994-1999; grade: 3.44 / 4, equivalent to a First-Class Honours with Distinction) and a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry (2000-2004; grade: Sobresaliente cum Laude) under the supervision of Prof. A. Espinosa and sponsored by the Ramón Areces Foundation (Spanish research charity). During his PhD, he visited the University of Ferrara (Italy) for 9 months to work with Prof. P. G. Baraldi on the design and synthesis of novel purine and duocarmycin derivatives. In 2005 Asier moved to Edinburgh to take a postdoc position in the lab of Prof. M. Bradley (School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh), where he developed various cross-disciplinary research projects: from cell delivery carriers and fluorescence-based chemosensors to novel high-throughput screening methods of biomaterials.

In 2008, Asier was awarded a Scottish Enterprise’s Proof of Concept (PoC) grant to translate a novel biodegradable, gene delivery technology into a commercial product. During two years he received intensive training in IP protection, technology commercialization and spin-out companies, and got involved in the Scottish business sector by meeting entrepreneurs and SME’s executives, private and public investors (business angels, VC, public funders), and gaining essential knowledge on how to create an R&D-based business. As a result, in 2010 Asier co-founded the spin-out company Deliverics Ltd: a biotech company dedicated to the development and commercialisation of research-enabling toolkits for cell delivery of nucleic acids.

Supported on the complementary range of scientific and translational skills, in 2010 Asier gained a PI position in the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre (ECRC), part of the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (University of Edinburgh), to create the first chemistry research group of the Institute. He was promoted to Reader in 2015. Within the ECRC / IGMM, Asier is working to create a competitive research group and build an integrative network of collaborators to accelerate the drug development process.

Research Interests

Bringing together the complementary expertise of medicinal chemistry and chemical biology with a top-class cancer research environment within the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, our research group aims to explore the design, synthesis and biomedical application of functional small molecules and materials to fight cancer. Specifically, the Unciti-Broceta Research Group focuses its efforts on three research lines:

  1. Development of kinase inhibitors using cooperative ligand-based drug design and phenotypic screening

  2. Innovative prodrug approaches to improve cancer chemotherapy

  3. Exploration of new chemical strategies for target ID of novel phenotypic hits/leads and clinical drugs

Research activities & awards

  1. XXXVII Biennial Meeting of the Spanish Royal Society of Chemistry

    Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk

  2. Invited Speaker at ABCChem 2018

    Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk

  3. CRUK Staff Roadshow 2017

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar

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