Scientific Advisory Board

Thanos Halazonetis 

DDS, PhD, Chairman of the SAB


Thanos Halazonetis holds a Dental Degree from the University of Athens and a PhD Degree in Genetics from Harvard University. He worked at Merck, Sharp & Dohme as a Research Fellow, before joining the faculty of the Wistar Institute and the University of Pennsylvania. In 2006, he joined the University of Geneva as Professor in the Department of Molecular Biology.

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His research has always focused on cancer; after studying the p53 tumor suppressor and the responses of cells to DNA double-strand breaks, his research has focused on oncogene-induced DNA replication stress and the pathways by which cells repair collapsed DNA replication forks. He is an elected member of EMBO and of Academia Europaea.

Timothy Yap 



Dr. Timothy Yap is a Medical Oncologist and Physician-Scientist based at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is a Professor in the Department for Investigational Cancer Therapeutics (Phase I Program), and the Department ofThoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology. Dr. Yap is Vice President and Head of Clinical Development in the Therapeutics Discovery Division, a drug discovery biopharmaceutical division where drug discovery and clinical translation are seamlessly integrated. He is also the Associate Director of Translational Research in the Khalifa Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy, which is an integrated research and clinical trials program aimed at implementing personalized cancer therapy and improving patient outcomes.

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Dr. Yap’s main research focuses on the first-in-human and combinatorial development of molecularly targeted agents and immunotherapies, and their acceleration through clinical studies using novel predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarkers. His main interests include the targeting of the DNA damage response (DDR) with novel therapeutics, such as ATR, PARP1, WEE1, POLQ, USP1, PKMYT1, PARG, CHK1, ATM and DNA-PK inhibitors, next generation CDK2, CDK4 and CDK7-selective inhibitors, YAP/TEAD inhibitors, Werner helicase inhibitors, SMARCA2 degraders, as well as the development of novel immunotherapeutics.

Prior to his current position, Dr. Yap was a Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden Hospital in London, UK and National Institute for Health Research BRC Clinician Scientist at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK.

Christopher Lord 



Chris Lord is Deputy Head of Division, Team Leader of the CRUK Gene Function Laboratory and Professor of Cancer Genomics in the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre at The Institute of Cancer Research, London. Much of his work focusses on exploiting genetic concepts such as synthetic lethality to identify new approaches to treating cancer and to understand the variable effectiveness of existing treatments. Chris carried out his PhD in complex disease genetics with John Todd and Richard Gardner at the University of Oxford before carrying out a Post-Doctoral Fellowship with Todd at the University of Cambridge. 

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Chris joined the ICR London as a Post-Doctoral Fellow with Alan Ashworth in 2000, where he was joint first author on a paper describing the synthetic lethal interaction between BRCA-tumour suppressor genes and PARP inhibitors (Nature 2005), observations that eventually led to the use of these drugs for the treatment of breast, ovarian, prostate and pancreatic cancers. Later, Chris exploited high-throughput genetic perturbation screens to understand a variety of cancer-related phenotypes including drug sensitivity/resistance and the identification of novel therapeutic targets (e.g. Cancer Cell 2008, Cancer Discov. 2011), a number of which are now being investigated as part of new drug development programmes. Chris has also used multiple approaches to uncover and/or understand clinically relevant mechanisms of resistance to DNA repair inhibitors and to identify novel synthetic lethal approaches that target hard-to-treat cancers. The impact of the work led by Chris is demonstrated by the number of completed and on-going clinical trials in cancer that are based upon synthetic lethal interactions he has identified as well as the assessment in these trials of biomarkers of cancer drug sensitivity/resistance he has identified.

Dirk Laurent 



Dirk Laurent MD, serves as Head of Global Clinical Development Oncology at Merck KGaA / EMD Serono. In this role he is responsible for the Clinical Development of all oncology pipeline assets of the company from First in Human up to Phase 3, and beyond.

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Dirk is a MD who received his medical training in Internal Medicine and Radiation Oncology at the Medical University Clinics in Berlin and Göttingen, Germany. His first industry position was with Schering AG where he served as Global Clinical Lead with increasing responsibilities covering all aspects of early and late oncology development. From 2007-2019 Dirk worked at Bayer, first as Head of Clinical Development Oncology, where he supervised the development of Bayer’s late-stage oncology pipeline assets, then as Head of the Experimental Medicine Oncology group, where he was responsible for the global early clinical portfolio in Oncology from First in Human trials until Proof of Concept. From 2017 – 2019 he headed the Translational Medicine Oncology department, overseeing Early Clinical Development including Clinical Biomarker and Clinical Pharmacology. Before joining Merck KGaA in 2022, Dirk has been working for  Berlin-Chemie / Menarini, as  Medical Director of Research and Development Oncology and Head of the Therapeutic Area Oncology, responsible for strengthening and building up the early and late oncology pipeline.

Patrick Verhoest 



Patrick obtained a B.S. in Chemistry from the Rochester Institute of Technology in 1996 and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry in 2001 from the University of Pennsylvania.  Following completion of his Ph.D., he began his career at Pharmacia in the Neuroscience chemistry group and following the 2003 acquisition of Pharmacia by Pfizer, he moved to the Groton site. As a scientist, project leader and manager in the Groton Neuroscience chemistry group, Patrick led multiple programs into clinical trials. In 2011 he became a design head in neuroscience medicinal chemistry driving project delivery in support of the neuroscience portfolio.

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In 2016, Patrick became the head of the Neuroscience Medicinal Chemistry group and in 2017 the head of the Internal Medicine Medicinal chemistry group which includes the Applied Synthesis Technology group. In 2020, his responsibilities increased to include the discovery network group and the anti-viral medicinal chemistry efforts targeting protease inhibitors for COVID-19 leading to the discovery of Paxlovid. Patrick is the author and inventor on over 70 publications and patents.