Professor Gary Evans
Professor, Ferrier Research Institute
Most of Professor Gary Evans’ synthesis work is medicinal chemistry, making enzyme inhibitor targets for treating cancer and other diseases. This long-running programme is carried out in conjunction with Professor Vern Schramm from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
“A career highlight for me was to get our second immucillin compound sub-licensed to Roche back in 2005. We designed the molecule with Vern, synthesised it, had it tested, worked out how to make it on a large scale and licensed it to a US biotech company. Not many compounds make it that far.”
Currently his work is focussed on antibacterials, antibiotic resistance and inhibiting enzymes that impact on bacterial communication processes such as quorum sensing.
Gary confesses to a very intense working style. “I tend to really focus on a chemical problem, such as why a reaction hasn’t produced what I expected. It’s an intellectual challenge and I tend to go at it pretty hard until I’ve cracked it. I also like the practical side of the work—things just don’t feel right unless I have at least one reaction on the go.”
Gary did his PhD at Otago University, a postdoc at Oxford University and then worked for his postdoc supervisor, Steve Davies, at Oxford Asymmetry. “I gained experience in a scale-up biotech company there, that ended up being extremely valuable to the team here as the large scale GlycoSyn facility was built.”
Outside work, Gary’s main interests are family, sport, reading and cooking. “I have a very supportive wife and family. I love rugby and my three sons play—they are all pretty good. That’s my big thing at the weekends in winter, and in summer you’ll find me on the golf course. I also enjoy cooking which is very similar to chemistry, except I get to eat the results of my endeavours.”