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The Team

Professor Simon J. Foster, Chief Scientific Officer, Absynth Biologics

Simon Foster has been working on fundamental aspects of the biology of Staphylococcus aureus for over 15 years and is a senior academic researcher in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology at the University of Sheffield.

Prof. Foster has undertaken numerous high-profile research council, charity and industry funded projects resulting in over 120 peer reviewed publications and nine patent applications.  Major areas of research have encompassed cell wall structure and function, stress resistance, host-pathogen interaction, essential gene analysis and the search for new vaccine targets.

Currently, his laboratory is one of the largest in the world focussed on the understanding and control of S. aureus and MRSA. The Absynth Biologics approach is based on research from Simon Foster’s laboratory.

Peter Grant, Director, Absynth Biologics

Having obtained an honours degree in Biochemistry, Peter completed his PhD before joining Genzyme UK Limited ("Genzyme") as a Senior Research Scientist working within the clinical diagnostics division.

Following a move to Celltech from Genzyme, Peter was part of the start-up team at Enzymatix Limited ("Enzymatix"). During the next five years Enzymatix grew five independent research areas with Peter as the Head of Research and Development.
Two of these areas were later spun-out to form Chiros Limited (later Chiroscience, now merged with Celltech plc) and Celsis, with Peter as a co-founder and Research and Development Director. Following venture capital funding rounds, Peter was an integral part of the team that successfully floated Celsis on the full list of the London Stock Exchange in July 1993.

Peter gained significant experience in acquisitions, divestments and licensing through his role as Director of Business Development and Technology at Celsis. He is a non-executive director of Adjuvantix Limited, Asterion Limited, Diurnal Limited, CellTran Limited and part-time CEO of Asterion Limited, all of which are spin-outs from the University.  Peter is also a main board director of Biofusion plc.

Dr Jorge Garcia-Lara, Senior Scientist,   Absynth Biologics

Jorge Garcia-Lara is a highly experienced bacterial molecular biologist and physiologist, who has worked in several leading laboratories in Europe and USA.  During this time he has specialised in working on bacterial pathogenesis and the way infectious micro-organisms survive drug and chemical treatments. 

Jorge has been in Sheffield since 2002 working on approaches to identify and characterise new drug and vaccine targets for S. aureus and MRSA in particular and plays a central role in co-ordinating Absynth’s research programs. He has previously been awarded a Bioscience Yorkshire Enterprise Fellowship (2005-2006), in recognition of the commercial potential of his previous research work, and which made a significant contribution to the Absynth approach, including a filed patent application.

Ruth Vestraten, Technician, Absynth Biologics

Ruth's is trained in Medical Microbiology and has previously worked at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in The Netherlands on the diagnosis of several infectious diseases. Subsequently, she moved to the University of Utrecht where she investigated mRNA expression in human tissues, and has previously worked on bacterial pathogenesis in the Infection and Immunology Unit at the University of York in the UK before undertaking technical work for Absynth.

Jagath Kasturiachchi,Technician

Following his BSc and MSc in Biological Sciences at the Universities of Colombo and Moratuwa (Sri Lanka), Jagath has specialised in molecular biology in the UK, completing an MSc and an internship at the University of Hertfordshire.
He is currently working on Absynth’s immunology program, including antibody characterisation, passive immunisation and vaccination.

Dr Andrew Tingey - Absynth project manager

Andrew completed a PhD in Biochemistry at Leicester University in 1996, which involved pharma-sponsored work on DNA topoisomerases (a class of enzymes that are important targets for both anti-cancer and antiobiotic drugs).
Andrew then undertook a short academic research career, resulting in the publication of several peer-reviewed papers before spending several years in industry, mainly working in the areas of contract research, analysis and consultancy.

During this time, Andrew established a number of successful service businesses including specialist DNA probe design and genotyping services.Andrew developed a number of strategic partnerships with global companies in the Food, Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical sectors.

Andrew has spent the last 3 years working in University commercialisation, having lead the University of York’s technology transfer function in life sciences, and joined Biofusion at the beginning of 2007.  Andrew is responsible for the management and commercial development of Biofusion’s pipeline of early stage opportunities.

An experienced R&D project manager, Andrew has assisted Absynth in organising, and presenting data from, its R&D programs.

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