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Affinity groups update

Published: 22 Aug 2017
Category: Affinity groups
By David Kendall, Elizabeth Rosethorne, Niall Hyland

The Drug Discovery, Development & Evaluation (DDDE) Affinity Group aims to support members of the Society with interests in all aspects of pharmacology from drug discovery to prescribed use including target identification, drug development, safety pharmacology, conduct of medical research and clinical trials, approval and licensing. DDDE also serves members with interests in natural products and nutraceuticals. Key to this is integrating the interests of members across academic, clinical and industrial settings.

An important function of the group is, of course, to champion drug discovery, development and evaluation and to ensure that it is well represented at Society meetings. A number of the symposia at Pharmacology 2016 were DDDE-related. These included:
  • Organ-on-a-chip technology - the future of physiological profiling?
  • Clinical application of systems pharmacology models
  • Clinical pharmacology, pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenetics in pregnancy (C4P)

These well attended sessions generated considerable interest. Members of the DDDE group were also fully involved in evaluation of posters, oral communications and the new and very well received flash poster sessions. DDDE involvement will be even more evident at Pharmacology 2017 in December, with planned symposia including:

  • Drug repurposing: opportunities and challenges
  • Protein-protein interactions: from biochemistry to drug discovery and pharmacology
  • Inflammation and immunity: new drug discovery opportunities
In addition to taking part in the annual flagship meetings, it is important that the Affinity Groups organize more member-focused events and to this end the DDDE Affinity Group recently ran a small but insightful focused meeting entitled “In silico and in vitro methods in modern drug discovery” at the University of Nottingham, UK (24–25 April 2017) (see page 8). Invited speakers included colleagues from the pharmaceutical industry (Darren Green and Steve Hood from GSK) and smaller industrial concerns (Urban Fagerholm from Prosilico in Sweden, Patrick Barton from Evotec in Germany and Piet van de Graaf from Certara in the Netherlands). Academic pharmacology was represented by contributions from Judith Madden (Liverpool John Moores University, UK) and the University of Nottingham’s Steve Charlton, Steve Bridden and Jillian Baker. Topics ranged from in silico-based presentations on computational medicinal chemistry to the ways in which in vitro pharmacology can inform clinical practice. A further highlight was the delivery of the JR Vane Lecture by Graeme Milligan (University of Glasgow). A theme running through the meeting was the advantages that in silico and in vitro methods can bring to the efficiency of the drug discovery process and the reduction in the need to use animals in pharmacology research.

At Pharmacology 2017, attendees will hear from the winner of the Drug Discovery of the Year award on day 1 as well as three symposia aligned with or related to the DDDE track throughout the conference:

  • Pharmacological modulation of gene expression – the therapeutic potential of epigenetic medicines
  • Therapeutics research in vulnerable populations: expanding our frontiers
  • Advances in drug development and regulation
The co-chairs would like to encourage Affinity Group members to get involved with chairing sessions and judging posters at future meetings. If you are interested, please email
  • Cardiovascular & Respiratory Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery, Development & Evaluation
  • Education & Skills
  • Molecular & Cellular Pharmacology
  • Neuropharmacology
  • Intergrated Systems Pharmacology
  • Toxicology
To sign up to the Affinity Groups, and find out more about the areas they represent and the Affinity Group co-chairs, visit (member log in required) or contact the Society directly at

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About the author

David was an academic pharmacologist at the University of Nottingham Medical School where he held the posts of Professor of Cellular Pharmacology and sometime Head of Biomedical Sciences. He left in 2015 to help run a start-up drug discovery company developing novel compounds for chronic pain therapy. He is also presently collaborating with colleagues in the School of Pharmacy at Liverpool John Moores University, UK on an anti-migraine discovery project. He has been a member of the British Pharmacological Society for more than 30 years and an editor of the British Journal of Pharmacology for many of them.

Liz is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham working in the area of Molecular Pharmacology & Drug Discovery. Her research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms driving airway remodelling in chronic respiratory diseases, and exploring novel therapies to treat them. She specializes in the use of phenotypic assays in pharmacology and drug discovery, and has particular interest in the differentiation between ligand, system and observational bias on a cell and molecular level. Liz has been a member of the British Pharmacological Society since 2001.

Niall is Lecturer in Pharmacology in the School of Medicine at University College Cork, Republic of Ireland. He also holds a Faculty position at the APC Microbiome Institute where his research focuses on the microbiotagut-brain axis. Niall has a PhD in Pharmacology from King’s College London and trained in both the USA and Canada. He is Co-chair of the Society’s Systems and Integrative Pharmacology Affinity Group and on the Editorial Board of the British Journal of Pharmacology. He also contributes to the activities of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility and The American Gastroenterological Association Institute Council.