Scientific Advisory Board


Our Scientific Advisory Board is an external body of experts in the computational science domain. These experts represent the global scientific user community, with a special focus on representation from outside Europe. Their role is to advise on development and dissemination of the Open PHACTS Discovery Platform with respect to scientific disciplines.

Find out more about the people and organisations who have contributed to Open PHACTS


Dr Mark Forster (chair)

SAB-Mark-Forster

My early research focused on NMR spectroscopy of organometallic systems, using heteronuclear NMR to study molecular structure and dynamics in solution. This led to applications to macromolecular systems with publications on proteins, DNA and carbohydrate systems. In particular the 1993 publication of the 3D NMR structure of heparin (with Barbara Mulloy), has subsequently been validated many times by X-ray and other methods. This structure determination required careful and novel analysis of NMR nOe data using methods developed by me. This interest in scientific software development led me to spend 5 years in the commercial software domain working for Biosym in the gentle and pleasant climate of San Diego.

Since 2001 I have worked for Syngenta R&D Information Systems, firstly in the domain of developing and supporting systems for plant biotechnology. I also manged the team supporting company efforts in chemical informatics and bioinformatics for chemical discovery. My current role is focussed on data and information standards, software tools and collaborations in support of R&D goals.

I maintain a keen interest in technical and research computing and in the scientific literature in the fields of quantum chemistry, molecular simulation and databases, small molecule and protein structure, informatics and many kinds of data analysis and visualisation techniques.

One recent highlight was the Syngenta and Wellcome Trust funded meeting on ‘Molecular Informatics Open Source Software’ or MIOSS 2011, that I conceived, organised and chaired. Considered by several participants as a ground breaking forum for industry and the open source community to collaborate and innovate, it is a concept and event in which I take great pride.

Education: Ph.D Chemistry, London University

Academic Positions:

  1. Researcher, University of Lausanne, Institut de Chemie Minerale et Analytique, Switzerland.
  2. Senior research officer, National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Mill Hill, London, UK
  3. Scientist/Principal scientist. National Institut for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC), South Mimms, Hertfordshire, UK.

Industry positions:

  1. Developer / Manager for protein application product development. Biosym (Now Accelrys), San Diego, California, USA.
  2. Senior information domain specialist. Syngenta R&D Information Systems (RDIS) International Research Centre, Jealott’s Hill, Berkshire, UK.


Dr Dean Allemang

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Dean Allemang specializes in innovative applications of knowledge technology, is Founder and Principal Consultant at Working Ontologist LLC., a consultancy specializing in semantic web applications, currently with an industry focus in Finance and Pharmaceuticals.  Formerly Chief Scientist at TopQuadrant, Inc., he has over 15 years experience in research, deployment and development of Semantic Technology systems.

Dean has worked and studied extensively abroad as a Marshall Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge. No stranger to innovation, he was twice winner of the Swiss Technology Prize.   He has been keynote speaker for a number of Semantic Web conferences, including the Semantic Technologies conference, the OWLED workshop, RuleML and at the 3rd Joint International Semantic Web Conference.

As an internationally recognized expert in the Semantic web, he participated in the review board for the Digital Enterprise Research Institute-the world’s largest Semantic Web research institute. He lead TopQuadrant’s successful TopMIND training series, from which he drew much of the inspiration for his bestselling book (co-authored with Prof. Jim Hendler), Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist, now in second edition.  Other book contributions include Abductive Inference (Josephson and Josephson, eds.) and Linking Enterprise Data (Wood, ed.). Dr. Allemang combines a strong formal background (MSc in Mathematics, University of Cambridge, PhD in Computer Science, Ohio State University) with years of experience applying knowledge-based technologies to real business problems.


Dr Michael R Barnes

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Director of Bioinformatics, William Harvey Research Institute, QMUL, London.

Dr Michael Barnes has over 14 years of Pharma R&D experience and was recently appointed Director of Bioinformatics at the William Harvey Research Institute, Queen Mary University of London. He previously led a computational biology team at GlaxoSmithKline focused on translational research for neuroscience drug discovery. After leaving GSK, he co-founded OI Pharma Partners, with Dr Jackie Hunter (www.oipharma.com). The company advocates the use of open innovation as a tool to stimulate R&D in the pharma and healthcare sectors. This work continues alongside his main focus of research on the use of genomic data to for drug discovery and better patient stratification. Michael has consistently championed pre-competitive collaboration and partnership between industry and academia. He co-led the original EFPIA team to propose the Open PHACTS project and continues to take a close interest in the project now from an academic perspective. Now working both in academia and biotech he is working hard to better understand and enhance the collaborative interface between the two sectors, towards the ultimate goal of clinical translation.


Prof Tim Clark

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At the Massachusetts General Hospital, Tim’s group has led and collaborated in development of several important biomedical ontologies, notably the SWAN scientific discourse ontology, and AO, the Annotation Ontology. His laboratory developed the Domeo Web Annotation Toolkit (www.annotationframework.org) for storing, visualizing, curating and combining the results of biomedical textmining on web documents, and several important biomedical web communities.

These include StemBook (www.stembook.org), PD Online (www.pdonlineresearch.org), Pain Research Forum (www.painresearchforum.org) and the forthcoming MS Discovery Forum.

Tim serves on the Executive Committee for the Massachusetts Alzheimer Disease Research Center (www.madrc.mgh.harvard.edu) and co-leads its Data and Statistics Core. He also serves on the Editorial Board of the journal Briefings in Bioinformatics, and the Advisory Board of the NIH Neuroscience Information Framework.


Dr Stephen H Friend

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President, Co-Founder and Director of Sage Bionetworks. Dr. Friend is the President of Sage Bionetworks. He is an authority in the field of cancer biology and a leader in efforts to make large scale, data-intensive biology broadly accessible to the entire research community. Dr. Friend has been a senior advisor to the NCI, several biotech companies, a Trustee of the AACR and is a AAAS and Ashoka Fellow as well as an editorial board memeber of Open Network Biology. Dr. Friend was previously Senior Vice President and Franchise Head for Oncology Research at Merck & Co., Inc. where he led Merck’s Basic Cancer Research efforts. Prior to joining Merck, Dr. Friend was recruited by Dr. Leland Hartwell to join the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s Seattle Project, an advanced institute for drug discovery. While there Drs. Friend and Hartwell developed a method for examining large patterns of genes that led them to co-found Rosetta Inpharmatics in 2001. Dr. Friend has also held faculty positions at Harvard Medical School from 1987 to 1995 and at Massachusetts General Hospital from 1990 to 1995. He received his B.A. in philosophy, his Ph.D. in biochemistry and his M.D. from Indiana University.


Prof Jim Hendler

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James Hendler is the Tetherless World Professor of Computer and Cognitive Science, and the Director of the Information Technology and Web Science Program at Rensselaer. He is also a faculty affiliate of RPI’s Experimental Multimedia Performing Arts Center (EMPAC), serves as a Director of the UK’s charitable Web Science Trust and is a visiting Professor at the Institute of Creative Technology at DeMontfort University in Leicester, UK. One of the inventors of the “Semantic Web,” Hendler was the recipient of a 1995 Fulbright Foundation Fellowship, is a former member of the US Air Force Science Advisory Board, and is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the British Computer Society, the IEEE and the AAAS. He is the Editor-in-Chief emeritus of IEEE Intelligent Systems and is the first computer scientist to serve on the Board of Reviewing Editors for Science. In 2010, Hendler was named one of the 20 most innovative professors in America by Playboy magazine and was selected as an “Internet Web Expert” by the US government.


Dr David Searls

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David Searls received undergraduate degrees in Philosophy and Life Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a PhD in Biology from the Johns Hopkins University.  Following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia he completed a Master’s in Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania.  He spent seven years doing Artificial Intelligence R&D at Unisys Corporation, then co-founded the Computational Biology and Informatics Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, with joint faculty appointments in Genetics and Computer and Information Science (where he retains an adjunct appointment).  He subsequently spent 13 years at SmithKline Beecham and then GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals, where he was Senior Vice-President of Bioinformatics, directing scientists and engineers at six sites worldwide.  He left GSK in 2008 and is now an independent consultant.  He was a founding Director of the International Society for Computational Biology, and serves on advisory boards for the Protein Databank (PDB), the EMBL-EBI UniProt resource, the International Union of Pharmacology (IUPHAR), and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) Foundation.  His research interests include the linguistics of biological macromolecules and scientific data integration.


Dr Susie Stephens

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Susie Stephens is Senior Director Oncology at Pfizer, previously Director of In Silico Immunology at Janssen. Prior to joining Janssen, Susie worked for Eli Lilly where she was Principal Research Scientist for Open Innovation, and enabled a more rapid uptake of novel informatics capabilities to enhance the project portfolio. She has also worked for Oracle where she created and guided the implementation of their product development strategy for the database for the life sciences, and Sun Microsystems where she was Global Life Sciences Market Segment Manager. She is chairman of the PRISME Forum, a non-profit committed to pre-competitive collaborations in R&D informatics. Susie has a Ph.D. in Physiology from the University of Exeter, UK, and post-doctoral experience in Molecular Biology from the University of Manchester, UK.