Alan Fairlamb is Professor of Biochemistry in the Division of Biological Chemistry & Drug Discovery. He obtained degrees in Medicine and a PhD in Biochemistry at the University of Edinburgh. Following postdoctoral studies on the biochemistry and chemotherapy of various parasitic protozoa at the University of Amsterdam, University of Edinburgh, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Rockefeller University, he moved to Dundee in 1996.
Alan has published widely on mode(s) of drug action; mechanism(s) of drug resistance; chemical and genetic validation of novel drug targets; and drug discovery against parasitic diseases. One major research achievement was the discovery of trypanothione, a unique antioxidant metabolite involved in the mode of action of several current treatments for African trypanosomiasis, Chagas’ disease and leishmaniasis. Recently, his team identified fexinidazole, (currently in Phase II/III trials for sleeping sickness) as a potential new treatment for visceral leishmaniasis (VL). A Phase II study in VL patients has led to a Miltefosine/Fexinidazole oral combination trial in Eastern Africa. In 2016 his team identified delamanid (an approved tuberculosis drug) as a potential repurposing treatment for VL. Alan is a tireless advocate of the urgent need for new drugs for neglected diseases of poverty. Over the past 25 years he has served as a scientific advisor to the World Health Organisation, Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council (UK), Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative and the Tres Cantos Open Lab Foundation. Together with Professor Mike Ferguson and colleagues, he played a pivotal role in establishing the Drug Discovery Unit in Dundee. He has been elected to Fellowships of the Linnean Society, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal Society of Biology. He was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours 2005, for services to medical science.