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Prof Asier Unciti-Broceta FRSC

Personal Chair of Medicinal Chemistry

Director of the Innovative Therapeutics Unit

University of Edinburgh

Year of birth: 1976

Place of birth: La Linea, Andalucia, Spain




Asier is a life scientist that, having organic and medicinal chemistry at the centre of his career, has gathered extensive research experience across several fields of the chemical sciences from working and collaborating with prestigious laboratories in Spain, Italy and the UK. His involvement in both academia and industry has enabled him to build a balanced skillset in basic science and translational research. By bridging novel concepts in chemical biology with integrative approaches in medicinal chemistry, his group is developing innovative strategies for cancer research and therapy. He serves as Associate Editor of Frontiers in Chemistry (specialty Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry), as Editorial Board Member of Scientific Reports, as Principal Investigator (MedChem) of the Edinburgh Drug Discovery and as the Chemistry Director of the Edinburgh Cancer Discovery Unit.


AUB received his academic degrees from the University of Granada (Spain): an MPharm in Pharmaceutical Sciences (1994-1999; grade: 3.44 our of 4, equivalent to a First-Class Honours with Distinction) and a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry (2000-2004; grade: Sobresaliente cum Laude) under the supervision of Prof. A. Espinosa and sponsored by the prestigious scholarship of the Ramón Areces Foundation (Spanish research charity). During his PhD, he visited the University of Ferrara (Italy) for 9 months to work with Prof. P. G. Baraldi on the design and synthesis of novel purine and duocarmycin derivatives. In 2005 Asier moved to Edinburgh to take a postdoc position in the prestigious group of Prof. M. Bradley (School of Chemistry, University of Edinburgh), where he developed various cross-disciplinary research projects: from cell delivery carriers and fluorescence-based chemosensors to novel high-throughput screening methods of biomaterials.


In 2008, Asier was awarded a Scottish Enterprise’s Proof of Concept (PoC) grant to translate a novel biodegradable, gene delivery technology into a commercial product. During two years he received intensive training in IP protection, technology commercialization and spin-out companies, and got involved in the Scottish business sector by meeting entrepreneurs and SME’s executives, private and public investors (business angels, VC, public funders), and gaining essential knowledge on how to create an R&D-based business. As a result, in 2010 Asier co-founded the spin-out company Deliverics Ltd: a biotech company dedicated to the development and commercialisation of research-enabling toolkits for cell delivery of nucleic acids.


Supported on the complementary range of scientific and translational skills, in 2010 Asier gained a PI position in the Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre (ECRC), part of the MRC Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (University of Edinburgh), to create the first chemistry research group of the Institute. He was promoted to Reader in 2015 and to Professor in 2018. Within the ECRC / IGMM, Asier is working to create a competitive research group and build an integrative network of collaborators with local colleagues (e.g. Dr N. O. Carragher, phenotypic screening / drug discovery; Dr E. E. Patton, zebrafish models / chemical biology; Prof. V. Brunton, mouse cancer models / cancer cell biology; Prof. M. Frame, cancer cell biology & imaging; Dr P. Brennan, neurosurgery; Dr D. Sieger, glioma zebrafish models; Dr S. Webster, PK and drug discovery) and colleagues from other institutions (e.g. Prof. J. Santamaría, nanotechnology, INA, Universidad de Zaragoza; Prof. H. Leung, clinical oncologist specialized in prostate cancer, Beatson Institute, University of Glasgow; Dr R. M. Sanchez-Martín and Dr J. J. Díaz-Mochón, bionanomaterials and chemical diagnostics, GENyO-Universidad de Granada; etc.) to accelerate the drug development process.


For the last 5 years, the Unciti-Broceta Research Group has focused its efforts on three research lines:

  1. Development of kinase inhibitors using cooperative ligand-based drug design and phenotypic screening

  2. Innovative prodrug approaches to improve cancer chemotherapy

  3. Exploration of new chemical strategies for target ID of novel phenotypic hits/leads and clinical drugs





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