Press Release

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David Hulcoop appointed Open Targets Director

5 July 2023

July 5, Cambridge — Open Targets has appointed David Hulcoop as its new Executive Director, following the retirement of Ian Dunham. Hulcoop will build from the programme’s existing capabilities to maximise Open Targets impact on drug discovery decision making.

Open Targets, a public-private partnership founded in 2014, aims to use the information generated by genome sequencing and genetics studies to systematically improve the identification and prioritisation of drug targets for safe and effective medicines. Founding partners EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), the Wellcome Sanger Institute, and GSK have since been joined by Bristol Myers Squibb, Sanofi, Pfizer, and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group.

“Open Targets has built a strong foundation in target identification and prioritisation, and has brought industry and academia together around a unique ecosystem of projects that wouldn’t exist otherwise,” says David Hulcoop. “We are excited about how we can further harness cutting-edge technologies to explore more granular aspects of disease states and mechanisms towards our ultimate goal of helping our partners and the community to envision safe and effective medicines. As we enter our 10th year, we are focussing on the real world impact of our work, the translation of our research to drug discovery decision making.”

Hulcoop became Acting Director of Open Targets when Ian Dunham retired at the end of June, and will take the helm officially on October 4th as an EMBL-EBI faculty member. He will be the first Open Targets Director with a background working in the pharmaceutical industry; after leading complex R&D projects to develop processes for large-scale production of pharmaceutical compounds at GSK, Hulcoop worked for the Office of the CEO in the Future Strategy Group. Since joining Open Targets in 2017 as Strategy and Operations Director, he has been instrumental in growing the partnership from two to five industry partners, and providing a key role in bridging academic and industry viewpoints.

Ian Dunham, outgoing Director of Open Targets, says: “For the last 6 years, David has been a key player in setting the direction for Open Targets and making the partnership work. I’m convinced that he will be a great appointment as Director of Open Targets, and will lead the consortium from strength to strength in evidence based target identification and prioritisation.”

Hulcoop will be supported in his role by the Open Targets Executive team. Gosia Trynka will take on the role of Scientific Director to lead the overarching scientific direction of the consortium and deputise for the Director as required. Ellen McDonagh will take on the role of Translational Informatics Director to lead integrated informatics and data science strategies across projects, platforms, and core teams.

Gosia Trynka, Scientific Director of Open Targets, says: “Open Targets is a remarkable scientific endeavour fostering a real partnership between industry and academia, a unique environment for innovation. In his time at Open Targets, David’s fresh perspective and dynamism have helped expand the partnership into a real community. I’m excited by his new appointment and certain that Open Targets will thrive under his directorship. I look forward to working with David, Ellie and our extended community as we continue to leverage genomics data to impact target identification and drug discovery.”

Image credit: Jeff Dowling, EMBL-EBI