In our first in a series of insights into the business development team at Charnwood Molecular, we speak to Aji Thomas, Business Development Executive, who has been a part of the team since early 2019.

What’s your background?

I am a medicinal chemist by training, having spent time on the bench working on drug discovery and development projects in previous technical roles.  I got my PhD at the University of Camerino, in Italy and did 4 years post doc there too.  In 2017 I moved to the UK and have worked in the CRO environment since.

What is your role at Charnwood Molecular?

The main purpose of my role in business development is to identify new clients, who through collaboration with Charnwood Molecular will speed up and add value to their drug discovery programs. This has a particular focus for me across Europe, where I concentrate my efforts.

What do you consider to be your career highlights so far?

The best part of my role is in being able to quickly understand clients’ requirements. Having been a medicinal chemist and having a scientific background, I can help identify areas where we can help with their projects.  The current situation with coronavirus and remote working has brought its own challenges, but I have embraced the new virtual working environment and working online with clients.

What do you do outside of the lab?

I enjoy sports, particularly futsal, and I play several musical instruments, including the bass guitar and drums. I also enjoy reading when not working.

We are delighted to announce the latest team member at Charnwood Molecular, Dr James Morey, who joins us as Head of Process Research and Development.

After graduating with an MChem from UMIST (now the University of Manchester) in 2001, James began his career as a bench chemist within the Discovery Research Division at GlaxoSmithKline. He made several important contributions in declaring tractable lead series for high-profile kinase targets. Three years later, the opportunity to pursue a PhD at the University of Cambridge in main-group organometallic chemistry applied to organic synthesis, kindled his interest in understanding chemical reactions intimately and using this knowledge to engineer optimal outcomes in complex synthetic routes.

After a brief stint back in a Medicinal Chemistry role (Lead Optimisation), James carried out research and development into the challenging area of novel blue polymer-organic light emitting diodes (P-OLED’s) which augmented his practical experience of Process Research and Development in an industrial setting.

After 13 years laboratory experience, James became Technical Director and a Board member at ProSynth Ltd, with overall responsibility for quoting, project management and delivery of custom synthesis projects ranging from mg to kg scales.

Charnwood Molecular is delighted to have recently expanded its commercial team, with two senior appointments in business development roles, to strengthen the company’s global operations.

Melody McDonough joins the team as Business Development Director. Melody is based in the North Carolina area and covers the US territory for Charnwood Molecular.

Melody has extensive experience in business development, with previous roles working in end-to-end discovery, development and manufacturing CROs with a focus in the small molecule space. She is also a co-Founder of a not-for-profit corporation, organised and operated specifically to allow children and young adults to build self-esteem and confidence.

She is joined by another recruit to our business development team in Linos Lazarides.

Linos joins Charnwood Molecular as Senior Business Development Executive, with responsibilities in Europe.

He has previous business development experience in providing medicinal and synthetic chemistry and preclinical integrated drug discovery projects. Prior to that, Linos worked at GSK and then Selcia Ltd as a medicinal chemist.

These two new appointments will enable Charnwood Molecular to deliver its ambitious growth plan, promoting the company as a trusted partner in innovative chemistry, working alongside expert CRO providers in other drug discovery disciplines, to deliver drug candidates to clinical stages in accelerated timelines.

“We are delighted that Melody and Linos have joined us at such an exciting time for the company,” said Dr Robin Wilkes, Director of Business Development. “Both bring exceptional experience and relationships in our sector and their involvement will enable better coverage of our key client territories in both the USA and Europe for Charnwood Molecular”, he added.

Charnwood Molecular has seen significant expansion of its global client base in recent years and the expansion of the business development team will further support continued growth in our wide range of contract research services, from medicinal chemistry, chemical development and early process research to providing other bespoke synthetic chemistry support for our international clients.

Nottingham-based contract research organisations (CROs) have strengthened their existing links to work together and support the discovery and development of new therapeutics during the pandemic.

Many businesses have been impacted by the restrictions on the movement of people and supplies, which has created barriers and slowed down drug discovery and development. However, four specialist CROs: Charnwood Molecular, Reach Separations, Aurelia Bioscience and XenoGesis, benefit from being co-located at BioCity Nottingham, the UK’s largest bioscience, innovation and incubation centre. Following the implementation of safe working environments to adhere to social distancing rules, the CROs have been able to remain open and provide specialist services to ensure seamless continuity for drug discovery programmes.

This collaboration brings together specialist expertise in synthetic and medicinal chemistry, analytical and purification support, bioassays, pharmacology screening, DMPK, bioanalysis, PK modelling and dose prediction. It also means clients are able to access niche CROs with specialist expertise, that are already experienced at working together, allowing drug discovery programmes to continue seamlessly with minimal disruption.

Commenting, Dr Richard Weaver, CEO and Founder of XenoGesis, said: “Clients can feel confident that they are still able to access the best specialised CRO in its respective discipline, and also dip into the services that they need at different stages of their project. In the past few weeks, we have seen a marked increase in new work and projects with clients coming to us for our specialist DMPK expertise. There is a genuine appetite for access to niche CROs that are leaders in their field.”

Robin Wilkes, Director of Business Development at Charnwood Molecular, added: “In these unprecedented times, the need for new therapeutics is higher than ever. Being co-located at BioCity Nottingham has huge advantages and enables us to navigate some of the barriers that are affecting other businesses, ensuring our clients’ projects can continue.”

Victoria Coulthard, Head of Business Development at Reach Separations, said: “We already have a proven track record of working together to provide services for clients across the globe. By coming together and offering a collaborative approach, we are able to build on this, and help clients expedite their drug discovery projects in spite of the lockdown.”

Gary Allenby, Chief Scientific Officer at Aurelia Bioscience, concluded: “In the current climate, the co-localisation of subject experts has come to the fore. Together at BioCity, Aurelia Bioscience, Charnwood Molecular, Reach Separations and XenoGesis have been able to provide seamless business continuity for drug discovery programmes, combatting the disruption that is being experienced elsewhere in the sector.”

For more information on how we can help you maximise the chances of success in your drug discovery programme, get in touch. – e:

The mission of Medicines Discovery Catapult is to accelerate drug discovery and help transform ideas into better medicines for patients, faster. To enable this, Medicines Discovery Catapult are mapping, curating and using national networks to help SMEs and charity-led drug discovery syndicates access the expertise and resources they need quickly and efficiently.

Charnwood Molecular are delighted to have joined this CRO network, providing industry, particularly for SMEs, translational academics and charities, with access to a full range of synthetic and medicinal chemistry services for Drug Discovery and early Drug Development.

You can find out more about Medicines Discovery Catapult here:
MDC homepage


We are delighted to announce that Synova Capital has completed a significant investment into Charnwood Molecular. The deal will provide Charnwood with additional investment to support its continued development and growth.

Synova will support Charnwood to deliver an ambitious growth plan, built upon increasing investment in the Business’s core capabilities as a trusted partner in innovative chemistry, alongside expanding its service offering into complementary scientific disciplines.

Commenting on the investment, Steve Allin, founder and CEO of Charnwood, said: “We are extremely excited about what we can achieve in partnership with Synova. Synova supported our business over an extended period prior to their investment, helping us to develop a strategic plan that we are all committed to delivering. They were able to leverage their sector expertise and introduced the business to a number of leading industry figures who will help us to grow going forwards. With Synova’s support we now have the resources to accelerate growth of our core service offering and to develop further specialist services to support our clients to develop innovative new treatments.”

Tim Ashlin, Synova Partner and Head of Healthcare, commented: “Having tracked Charnwood’s progress for a number of years, we are delighted to announce this investment to fuel Charnwood’s ambitious growth plans. It’s exciting to be supporting a business that is focused on developing the next generation of cutting-edge pharmaceuticals, and to support the continued growth of the UK life sciences industry.”

Charnwood Molecular have been selected as a finalist for the upcoming 2019 OBN Awards.

The company is celebrating after being announced as one of just four finalists in the “Best CRO” category.

“We’d like to thank everyone on the team here at Charnwood Molecular and, of course, all of our clients, for your continued support” stated Steven Allin, Managing Director and Co-Founder of Charnwood Molecular.  “It is testament to the efforts of all our team here at Charnwood Molecular that we are being considered for this award” he added.

The 11th Annual OBN Awards remains the life sciences industry’s most highly regarded awards event. According to the organisers, entry rates increased once again this year, with the quality of entries and levels of innovation consistently impressive across all categories.

The winners of the 2019 awards will be announced on 7th November at the Examination Schools in Central Oxford.

Charnwood Molecular

We were recently featured in an extensive article in the Loughborough Echo.

The article looked at our early development, through to continued growth and the increasing demand for our services. After another year of significant growth and a number of achievements for the company, the piece outlines our plans going for the future, with key quotes from Professor Steve Allin and Dr Robin Wilkes.

The full article is available to read here:


Charnwood Molecular

In case you missed it, in an interview with The Medicine Maker towards the end of last year, our Head of Medicinal Chemistry, James Hitchin, discussed many of our key considerations and aspirations as a growing CRO collaborating with international clients on Drug Discovery projects:

On the Clear Benefits of Working With Us: we have an ability to “follow up discoveries quickly…allowing greater flexibility and cost savings and focus more on the added value propositions of outsourcing partnerships.”

On the Importance of Staff Development: “supporting the skills required for drug discovery for the next generation of scientists coming through.”

On Compound Selection: “it’s crucial to make good choices at the beginning of the process and pick a candidate that has the potential to go all the way.”

On Compound Optimisation: “you have to really understand your compound and be able to juggle parameters in a way that allows you to produce something that is well tolerated by the body, is rapidly absorbed and goes directly to where you want it to be and then stays there long enough to elicit the desired effect.”

On the Synthetic Challenge: “some of the best compounds can be the most difficult to synthesise…if you spend a bit more time figuring out the challenges in synthesis, you could ultimately end up with something more interesting not only in terms of its medicinal chemistry properties, but also more amenable to process scale chemistry.”

On What Success Looks like: “to eventually deliver compounds that will have the intended effect in a clinical setting (line of sight to the clinic).”

Link to article:
The Medicinal Chemistry Puzzle: Lessons Learned with James Hitchin

Charnwood Molecular

Our Loughborough site, where we run early Development projects, were delighted to take delivery of a new Teledyne Isco CombiFlash Torrent large-scale chromatography system last week. Here is our Senior Research Chemist Jon Boxhall using a 3 Kg silica column today.