As part of the Medicinal Chemistry group at H3 Biomedicine, I oversee the chemistry components of several of our early-stage programs. For me, the opportunity to be a part of H3 is exciting because of the overall scientific approach to cancer drug discovery: start with the actual patient and drive the science from there.
I’ve had more than 10 years of experience in biopharmaceuticals, and it occurs to me that our work in the laboratory is a bit like playing with LEGOs:
- The rational design and synthesis of a molecule (or spaceship if you are using LEGOS) requires both creativity and rigorous planning.
- We only have a limited toolbox with which to tackle the problem - like the different LEGO blocks. Thus, it is essential that we embrace any opportunities to expand that set of reactions.
H3’s concept of building a hypothesis for a cancer therapy based on a defined patient population, and then using that information as the basis for all development, intuitively makes sense to me. More traditional cancer treatment research tended towards the ‘chemo-centric:’ developing chemistry first, and then trying to force the capabilities of that solution into the cancer context. This approach, while sometimes successful, has led to high failure rates in Phase 2 clinical trials due to lack of efficacy. At H3, we rigorously validate a hypothesis for a target first, and use that data to drive pre-clinical activities. We want to work on the right targets in the right context to give the patients – and the treatment options – the best shot for success. This vision really resonates for me: encouraging creative approaches to solving problems while still adhering to the utmost scientific standards.
Unfortunately, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has not had a personal run-in with cancer. My father died too young after a long battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Despite my professional experience in oncology drug discovery, I was shocked to see the archaic nature of his treatment. “Targeted therapies” were largely a myth, and life expectancies were low because physicians simply did not have many options. At H3 we aim to develop viable, novel therapies for physicians, providing them with treatment options for diseases that are currently ‘undruggable.’
People here at H3 know me for whistling a little and drinking a lot of tea. When I’m not working, I spend time with my family, coaching my daughters’ soccer teams, and playing outside on my bike or skis. Or building a superstructure out of LEGOs.
"My name is Dominic. I am a scientist, a husband, and a father. I whistle, I drink tea, and I synthesize molecules that target cancer. I am H3.”