Astex CSO David Rees Honoured as a Hero of Chemistry by the American Chemical Society

Cambridge, UK, 13 October 2023, Astex Pharmaceuticals (UK) (“Astex”), a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel small molecule therapeutics for oncology and diseases of the central nervous system, congratulates its Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), David Rees PhD, FMedSci, FRSC on being honoured by the American Chemical Society (ACS) Heroes of Chemistry.

The award recognises researchers and companies for developing products that have led to significant advancements in improving health and the environment. The ceremony to honour these impressive achievements took place yesterday in Alexandria, Virginia.

David is a co-recipient of the award given to Merck & Co. Inc (MSD) for Bridion® (sugammadex). Bridion® is approved in 95+ countries for reversal of the effects of certain neuromuscular blocking agents in adults undergoing surgery. It binds these agents, reducing the amount of active drug available to relax the muscles, resulting in reversal of neuromuscular blockade. David devised the concept of using chemical chelation to reverse anaesthesia and led the team of chemists involved in the early discovery of Bridion® (sugammadex) whilst at Organon Laboratories, Scotland, UK (which became part of MSD in 2009).

Announcing the 2023 awards, ACS President Judith C. Giordan said, “These awards recognize teams of chemists that have worked toward the betterment of humankind. The 2023 ACS Heroes of Chemistry demonstrate the unwavering dedication of chemists to propel us toward healthier lives and a greener tomorrow, and for forging a future where scientists, chemistry and innovation come together to uplift humanity.”

The 2023 winners, which also include scientist teams from AbbVie, Honeywell, Incyte, Vertex and ViiV Healthcare as well as MSD will be inducted into the Heroes of Chemistry scientific hall of fame, which ACS has sponsored annually since 1996.

Astex CSO David Rees said, “I am delighted to receive this award. It is immensely motivating to know that so many patients have benefitted from Bridion® (sugammadex). This is a tribute to the entire team involved in the research and development”.

David joined Astex in 2003 to lead the chemistry team and in 2017 became its CSO. In addition to Bridion®, whilst at Astex, David has been associated with the discovery of two further launched drugs including the anti-cancer agents Kisqali® (ribociclib), discovered under collaboration with Novartis, and Balversa® (erdafitinib) under a collaboration with Janssen.

David is one of the few industrial scientists to have served as President of the Organic Division of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) (2010-2013) and in 2015 was elected to be a Trustee Director of the RSC (2015-2019).  He has held visiting professorships at three UK universities and sits on several scientific advisory boards of not-for-profit organisations.  In 2020 he was elected to the Fellowship of the Academy of Medical Sciences as well serving on the Board of Directors of The Rosalind Franklin Institute, Parkinson’s Research Ventures, and Ashanti Development. The Heroes of Chemistry honour from the ASC adds to his accolades having been inducted into the RSC Biological and Medicinal Chemistry Sector (BMCS) Hall of Fame in 2020.

Caption: Astex Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), David Rees PhD, FMedSci, FRSC collecting his American Chemical Society (ACS) Heroes of Chemistry 2023 award

Copyright: Astex



About Astex Pharmaceuticals

Astex is a leader in innovative drug discovery and development, committed to the fight against cancer and diseases of the central nervous system. Astex is developing a proprietary pipeline of novel therapies and has a number of partnered products being developed under collaborations with leading pharmaceutical companies. Astex is a wholly owned subsidiary of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., based in Tokyo, Japan.

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About The American Chemical Society (ACS)

The ACS is a non-profit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. ACS’ mission is to advance the broader chemistry enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of Earth and all its people. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and providing access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, scientific conferences, eBooks and weekly news periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, most trusted and most read within the scientific literature; however, ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing the world’s scientific knowledge. ACS’ main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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Astex Pharmaceuticals
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