Vernalis Research

Vernalis Research is 65 experienced staff based in Granta Park, Cambridge, UK. Our strength is solving problems in drug discovery. This expertise has generated 6 development candidates in the past 5 years and successfully identified cell-active lead compounds for more than 13 other targets. Vernalis’ business model is to balance an internal portfolio of drug discovery projects with full collaborations on targets with pharmaceutical partners such as Genentech, Asahi Kasei Pharma, GSK, Lundbeck and Servier. We aim to establish additional collaborations during 2015/16. Our distinctive approach is to integrate the most appropriate methods in biophysics, protein structure and molecular modelling with medicinal chemistry. In addition, we have the experience and capabilities for progressing projects from target identification through to clinical candidate. The internal projects at Vernalis are in oncology and anti-infectives; our collaborations are across all therapeutic areas – currently oncology, neurodegeneration, anti-infectives and inflammation. Vernalis Research has all the facilities and expertise to undertake fragment and structure-based drug discovery from target discovery to clinical candidate: cell and molecular biology, protein production, X-ray crystallography, NMR spectroscopy, biophysics (SPR, ITC, TSA), molecular modelling, cheminformatics, chemical synthesis, assay technologies, DMPK.


Website link: Vernalis

Staff involved in this project:
Dr. Ben Davis


Dr. Ben Davis is a research fellow at Vernalis Reserch. His main focus is in the development and application of Fragment Based Lead Discovery (FBLD) approaches, especially when applied to more challenging classes of proteins and other macromolecules. In particular, he is interested in the use of NMR and other biophysical techniques to probe molecular interactions.

Dr. Davis is also involved in developing strategies to more readily bridge the gap between fragments and “classical” hits and leads, and in the identification and structural characterization of ligand:receptor interactions by NMR and other biophysical methods. Since 2001, he has been heavily involved in the development and application of fragment based lead discovery technologies to a wide range of therapeutic targets.

Dr. Davis studied protein folding by NMR for my PhD with Professor Alan Fersht at Cambridge University Chemical Laboratory, before moving to Dr Paul Driscoll’s NMR group at University College London where he worked on protein-ligand interactions.

In 1998, he joined RiboTargets, a biotech company formed out of the Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge UK, where he worked on applying structure based drug discovery techniques to a variety of RNA and protein targets. In 2003 RiboTargets merged with Vernalis, and focussed research towards protein targets. Since 2001, he has been heavily involved in the development and application of fragment based lead discovery technologies to a wide range of therapeutic targets. Dr. Davis has published more than 20 scientific papers, and written five book chapters on protein-ligand interactions and FBLD. He frequently speaks at scientific conferences, mostly on protein-ligand interactions and FBLD, and has taught postgraduate courses on SBDD and FBLD at York and Oxford Universities. He is also on the Scientific Advisory Boards for various organizations, and is currently a member of the BBSRC Pool of Experts. His scientific expertise is in the area of biomolecular NMR, biophysical techniques, molecular interactions, protein structure and folding, fragment-based lead discovery (technologies and applications) and drug discovery methods and approaches.





Contact details

Please contact us at:

FRAGNET Coordinator
VU University Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Funded by

Marie Curie Actions

EU Horizon 2020

European Union