Our Team

Core Directors

Our two co-founders, Dr Benjamin Housden and Dr Matt Anderson, have worked together at the University of Exeter since early 2018. The two met over a coffee at the Living Systems Institute in Exeter where they came up with plans for their first of many joint projects. The idea was to develop a fully scaled screening platform based on methods Ben invented in his lab. Since then, they have combined their scientific, technical and commercial expertise to develop their tech into a breakthrough platform for accelerating and de-risking drug discovery.

Dr Matt Anderson

Co-founder and CEO

Dr Benjamin Housden

Benjamin Housden

Co-founder and Scientific Director

Advisory Board

We are very lucky to have the support of a strong and diverse Advisory Board, spanning the breadth of expertise required for the growth and development of Quest. We plan to continue growing this as we develop and take on new challenges.

Dr Imran Haq

Imran Haq

Business Development

Prof Ed Keedwell

Ed Keedwell

Artificial Intelligence

Prof Jon Mill

Jon Mill

Sequencing

Dr Michael Salako

Michael Salako

Business Development

Prof Chrissie Thirlwell

Chrissie Thirlwell

Medical Oncology

Dr Graeme Wilkinson

Graeme Wilkinson

Drug Discovery

Dr Matt Anderson

Co-founder and Interim CEO / Technical Director

Matt is a multidisciplinary scientist with almost a decade of experience at the interface between molecular cell biology & computational biomedicine. He has a PhD in Complexity Sciences from the University of Bristol, where his work focussed on protein interactions in colorectal cancer.

He has co-founded two start-ups in the field of sustainable agriculture, one of which was an award-winning agritech company and the other is now a national trade association.

Matt joined the Living Systems Institute at the University of Exeter as a postdoctoral fellow in 2017, and then as an industrial research fellow in 2019. His interests prior to working on Quest were in industrial and clinical collaboration, artificial intelligence, mathematical modelling, and molecular cell biology in cancer, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy.

Matt is Quest’s CEO and oversees strategic and business development activities. He will resume a more technical and operational role once a CEO with experience of taking drugs to market joins the team.

Dr Benjamin Housden

Benjamin Housden

Co-founder and Scientific Director

Ben has over fifteen years of experience in multidisciplinary science and has led an independent research group since 2017. His skills cover a range of different fields of research, including molecular biology, high-throughput drug-target screening and technology development. 

Ben received a PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2011 and then spent six years as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School. He then joined the Living Systems Institute at the University of Exeter as a group leader in 2017. In his career to date, Ben has produced over 40 scientific publications and has established himself in multiple fields of research.

He has a strong, global network of contacts to support the development of novel screening technologies and to apply them to a range of different diseases.

Dr Imran Haq

Imran Haq

Business Development, Pharma relations & non-dilutive funding

(Medicines Discovery Catapult)

Imran has an extensive background across academia and drug discovery (15+ years) working in genetics, biochemistry, and biophysics in major universities (University College London, University of Cambridge) with large pharmaceutical organisations (GlaxoSmithKline and Grifols).

Post academia, he co-founded Cellomatics Bioscience, a Contract Research Organisation, and held commercially related director level roles in digital health related start-ups before applying this experience to a UK Government innovation role to support the drug discovery industry at the Medicines Discovery Catapult. A major part of this work is now focused on supporting innovative commercialisation strategies and capacity building for universities that lead in biomedical research.

Prof Ed Keedwell

Ed Keedwell

Artificial Intelligence

(University of Exeter)

Ed graduated with a BSc in Cognitive Science and PhD in Computer Science from the University of Exeter. He has been a member of academic staff at Exeter since 2009 and is now Professor of Artificial Intelligence. Ed has a national and international research reputation in artificial intelligence and nature-inspired computing applied to real-world engineering and bioinformatics problems. In particular, he was at the forefront of the application of data science techniques in bioinformatics in the early 2000s and is the co-author of the 2005 Wiley book ‘Intelligent Bioinformatics’.  

Ed has published over 160 journal and conference articles in the computer science, engineering and bioinformatics fields and has attracted ~£3M in funded research projects. He was Director of Research for Computer Science for almost 6 years and a member of the AISB committee from 2010-2020. He is a fellow of HEA and a member of the ACM and IEEE Hyperheuristics Task Force.

Prof Jon Mill

Jon Mill

Sequencing

(University of Exeter)

Jonathan is Professor of Epigenomics at The University of Exeter Medical School where he heads the Complex Disease (Epi)genomics Group. He graduated with a degree in Human Sciences from Oxford University, followed by a PhD in psychiatric genetics at the Institute of Psychiatry where he later established the Psychiatric Epigenetics group.

His group takes an integrated genomics approach to neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disease phenotypes, and he has considerable experience in molecular epidemiology and studies of gene regulation in the brain. Among numerous other awards,. his group was funded as part of the NIH Epigenomics Roadmap Initiative, representing the only award made under this scheme outside of North America and putting them at the forefront of complex disease epigenomic research. They are also the only UK group involved in the PsychENCODE consortium, profiling epigenomic variation in autism brain and across neurodevelopment. 

Jonathan’s current work is focused on examining cellular heterogeneity (transcriptomic, epigenomic and genetic) in the human brain, and its role in neuropsychiatric disease. He led a successful £1.6million MRC Clinical Research Infrastructure grant to fund long-read and single cell sequencing capability at the University of Exeter Medical School and are currently using this technology to identify developmental patterns of functional genomic variation associated with neurodevelopmental phenotypes. In addition to his strong funding / publication track-record, Jonathan has received numerous international awards and prizes. These include both a Young and Distinguished Investigator Award from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, an Advanced Investigator Award from the American Asthma Foundation, the British Medical Association’s Margaret Temple Award, and the ISPG Theodore Reich Prize from the International Society of Psychiatric Genetics. Jonathan is an ISI Web of Science “Highly-Cited Researcher”, ranking in the top 1% of researchers by citations for field and year.

Dr Michael Salako

Michael Salako

Business Development, investor relations & due diligence

(Start Codon)

Michael has both broad scientific and commercial expertise. With a strong passion for facilitating entrepreneurship, he worked for 10 years at Cancer Research UK focused on identifying, developing, transacting and seed-investing in next-generation oncology programmes and spin-out opportunities (both within and outside the charity’s network).  

Michael has a first-class degree in Biochemistry, a PhD in Molecular Virology and Molecular Toxicology, an MBA focused on finance and entrepreneurship, postdoctoral experience in immuno-oncology, drug discovery expertise to Principal Scientist level and is a Certified Licensing Professional.

Prof Chrissie Thirlwell

Chrissie Thirlwell

Medical Oncology

(University of Exeter)

Chrissie graduated in Medicine from UCL Medical School, taking an intercalated BSc in Immunology, followed by a PhD in colorectal cancer genetics from the Cancer Research UK London Research Institute. Before being appointed as Professor of Cancer Genomics at University of Exeter College of Medicine and Health, she was a Senior Lecturer and Consultant Medical Oncologist at the UCL Cancer Institute and Royal Free Hospital, and Lead Consultant in the multidisciplinary neuroendocrine tumour (NET) and hepatocellular cancer teams.

Chrissie has a national and international reputation for research into and the management of NETs and integrated genomic analyses of cancer, and sits on a number of scientific and clinical research committees. Her group’s work on NETs has led to a number of collaborations within the UK and at Harvard, Bern, Verona, Madrid and Uppsala Universities.

Chrissie chairs and sits on national and international NET research and clinical committees, leads the NET 100,000 genomes GeCIP in the UK, and is the Cancer arm representative on the 100,000 genomes GeCIP board. She is also a member of a Genomics England working group, working towards the delivery and impact of the next 5 million genomes.

Dr Graeme Wilkinson

Graeme Wilkinson

Drug Discovery

(Medicines Discovery Catapult)

Graeme has a background in applied mechanistic pharmacology gained through a PhD at the department of cell physiology and pharmacology, University of Leicester, and postdoc at the Glaxo Institute of Pharmacology, University of Cambridge.

Graeme joined the pharmaceutical industry with Astra in 1997 and then AstraZeneca and has worked on drug discovery projects across many disease areas including roles leading open innovation, and drug repositioning activities.

Between 2014 and 2017 Graeme worked independently to develop a portfolio of drug discovery projects through virtual working in addition to acting as R&D director for start-up companies in the urology and auditory fields.

Graeme is now Head of Virtual R&D at the Medicines Discovery Catapult with responsibility for delivering externalised drug discovery enabling advice, services and project management to UK life science SMEs and university start-ups and spin-outs.