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My Cardiff

Professor Chris McGuigan

Professor Chris McGuigan is a Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Welsh School of Pharmacy.

Professor Chris McGuigan

Professor Chris McGuigan

I came to Cardiff from Southampton in 1994 after graduating from the University of Birmingham in 1979 with First Class Honours in Chemistry. At Birmingham, I also obtained my PhD in Anticancer Drug Design.

My time at Cardiff has been incredibly successful and enjoyable. I have a major interest in new drug discovery and development for HIV, hepatitis B and C, the herpes viral family, cancer and osteoarthritis.

A notable achievement has been the discovery of a new drug to target shingles, a nasty disease caused by the virus VZV, which also causes chickenpox. In collaboration with Jan Balzarini, from Leuven, Belgium, we found that this new treatment had a 10,000 times greater potency against the virus than existing drugs.

The very strong Research and Commercial Division of the University led to a license to a US start-up company, Fermavir, who pursued our drug towards a clinical trial. Fermavir were bought out by another company, Inhibitex, last year, and they gained approval for the trial of our drug in humans.

The first stage of the trial started in late 2007 and is progressing well. Only about 25 new medicines appear each year around the world, and our drug, called ‘FV100’ may be one of them by about 2012 if all goes well.

Through the very strong support, encouragement and world-class facilities that the University offers to researchers, I’m pleased to have been able to see this drug through from initial discovery to clinical trials.

The success of our collaboration with Inhibitex Inc was honoured recently with the award of the 2008 Innovation Prize. The prize is given by the Cardiff University Innovation Network, and celebrates the close links and successful collaborations forged between the University and business.

I’ve won several other awards for my research, including, in 2006, the Royal Society of Chemistry Industrially-sponsored Award in Medicinal Chemistry, given every 3 years for outstanding contributions to medicinal chemistry.

For me, Cardiff has enabled me to progress my research in new and exciting ways, and has given me and my research colleagues the chance to drive forward our pioneering medicinal chemistry and develop it towards applications in the ‘real world’.

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