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Professor Swen Hoelder

Team Leader

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Professor Swen Hoelder is a key member of the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit and applies his medicinal chemistry experience to discover and develop new cancer drugs. He has worked in both academia and industry, and has led teams to discover drug screening libraries and pre-clinical candidates. Team: Medicinal Chemistry 4 (including Analytical Chemistry)
+44 20 8722 4353 ORCID 0000-0001-8636-1488


Professor Swen Hoelder leads the Medicinal Chemistry 4 team within the Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit, a part of the Division of Cancer Therapeutics, at The Institute of Cancer Research, London. In November 2017 he was awarded a readership (UK analogue of a full professor without chair) in Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Design.

Medicinal chemistry plays a crucial role towards the generation of a new drug. Drug candidates are identified through creative design, chemical synthesis and systematic testing of chemical compounds. These drug candidates are then progressed to clinical trials. 

Professor Hoelder and his team apply their medicinal chemistry skills to discover novel cancer drugs in collaboration with other research teams both within the ICR and externally. A recent example is the discovery of a series of pyrimidopyridine inhibitors for the cancer target MPS1 and the chemical optimization of this series to yield the clinical candidate BOS172722.  BOS172722 is currently undergoing Phase 1 clinical development for triple negative breast cancer.

Professor Hoelder studied chemistry at the University of Muenster (Germany). He completed his PhD in organic chemistry at the Technical University in Berlin in the team of Professor S. Blechert. Following his PhD, Professor Hoelder spent two years in the lab of Professor P.G. Schultz at the University of California, Berkeley establishing methods to identify novel enzymes through selection from large protein libraries. His Post-Doctoral research was supported by a Feodor Lynen Fellowship from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

Professor Hoelder then joined the department of Medicinal Chemistry at Hoechst Marion Roussel (now Sanofi), a major pharmaceutical company, where he predominately worked on diabetes therapies. In addition, he led teams that were responsible for the creation of a kinase screening library and explored the application of Bio-NMR for kinase drug discovery in collaboration with the group of Professor H. Schwalbe at Frankfurt UniversityIn 2005, he joined Altana (now Takeda) to work on cancer therapies, where he led a team of chemists that discovered two pre-clinical candidates.

In October 2007, Professor Hoelder joined the faculty of the ICR and is now applying his medicinal chemistry experience to discover novel drugs in the unique and collaborative environment of the ICR.

In 2017, he was awarded a readership in Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Design and in 2018 took up the role as a senior tutor at the ICR.