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Fellows Directory

Christopher Abell

Christopher Abell

Professor Christopher Abell FMedSci FRS


Elected: 2016


Chris Abell was the Professor of Biological Chemistry at the University of Cambridge. A major focus of his highly interdisciplinary research was to understand the mechanisms of key enzymes, and develop approaches to their inhibition. He was a pioneer in the development of fragment-based approaches to drug discovery, and co-founder of Astex (1999), a world leading company in this area. Fragment-based approaches are now adopted throughout the pharmaceutical industry and in many academic laboratories. Chris was using these structural biology driven approaches to develop treatments for tuberculosis and cancer.

Chris also made major contributions to the development of microfluidic microdroplets as a novel platform for experimental science, with applications in cell biology, chemistry and material science. This interest resulted in the co-founding of Sphere Fluidics (2010) and Aqdot (2013).

His interest in the translation of research led him to be a founding director of Cambridge Enterprise. In 2013, Chris became the first Director of Postdoctoral Affairs at the University of Cambridge, and in 2016 he was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research.

Professor Chris Abell FMedSci FRS died on 21 October 2020.

Professional positions

Professor of Biological Chemistry, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry, biological, Chemistry, organic
  • Biochemistry and molecular cell biology
    • Biophysics and structural biology
  • Health and human sciences
    • Molecular medicine
  • Other
    • Science policy
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