Harren Jhoti, Co-founder and CEO of Astex, Honoured with OBE in the King’s New Year Honours

Astex Pharmaceuticals, UK, is proud to congratulate its co-founder, President and CEO, Harren Jhoti, PhD, FRS, FMedSci, on being honoured with an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2023 King’s New Year Honours list. Dr. Jhoti’s outstanding dedication to Cancer Research and Drug Discovery have been recognised with this prestigious award.

In 1999, Dr. Jhoti co-founded Astex with a revolutionary vision – to pioneer the development of fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD). This ground-breaking new approach is now widely used in the pharmaceutical industry, and has enabled Astex to discover two new cancer medicines: Kisqali and Balversa. As a passionate advocate for the UK life sciences sector, Dr. Jhoti has been actively promoting the strength of the life sciences community in Cambridge, as well as more broadly across the UK and beyond.

Harren Jhoti, an Astex co-founder and Board member, has been recognized for his outstanding accomplishments and leadership, earning him a much deserved honour. Prof. Sir Tom Blundell FRS, commended him for his innovation, entrepreneurship and exemplary leadership at Astex. Harren is credited with driving the success of Astex in developing new medicines using structure-guided fragment-based methods for oncology and diseases of the central nervous system. Not only has he been successful in his scientific pursuits, but he has also managed the team at Astex in a non-hierarchical structure and has fostered innovation by encouraging multidisciplinary approaches to early discovery. He has also been instrumental in successfully developing collaborations with large pharma companies in Europe and USA, as well as the Japanese company Otsuka, to ensure success in clinical trials.

Dr. Jhoti was honoured to receive this award in recognition of his contribution to the development of Astex. He shared this recognition with all the colleagues, past and present, as well as with the collaborators who have contributed to the success of the company. As scientists, they hope that their discoveries will make a difference for patients. As entrepreneurs, they strive to build sustainable companies to turn these discoveries into new medicines. At Astex, the team is lucky to have achieved both goals. The company has also benefited from the growth of the UK life sciences sector over the last 20 years, transforming it into an international powerhouse.

Harren Jhoti OBE, PhD, FRS, FMedSci, co-founder and CEO of Astex Pharmaceuticals (UK), stands proudly next to a cryo-electron microscope (cryo-EM). This sophisticated piece of technology is integral to the drug discovery process, allowing Astex to visualize drug molecules bound to protein targets.

About Harren Jhoti

Harren Jhoti, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Astex, is a Fellow of the Royal Society, Royal Society of Chemistry, Academy of Medical Sciences and Birkbeck College, London. In 2018, he was honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the UK BioIndustry Association and in 2012 he was awarded the Prous Institute-Overton and Meyer Award for New Technologies in Drug Discovery from the European Federation for Medicinal Chemistry. He was also named the Royal Society of Chemistry’s “Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year” for 2007 and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to Cancer Research and Drug Discovery in 2022. His accomplishments are testament to his dedication to medical research and his passion for drug discovery.

Dr. Jhoti is a British Asian who is a leader in the field of life sciences. After studying Biochemistry at the University of London and completing a PhD in Protein Crystallography at Oxford University, he went on to become the head of Structural Biology and Bioinformatics at GlaxoWellcome in the United Kingdom (1991-1999). In 1999 he founded Astex and was subsequently recognized with a Technology Pioneer award from the World Economic Forum in 2005, which led to his company and achievements being featured in Time magazine. His expertise has also seen him serve on the board of the BIA, the UK BioIndustry Association, and currently consult with life science venture capital firms.

About Astex Pharmaceuticals (UK)

Astex is at the forefront of the fight against cancer and diseases of the central nervous system, leveraging innovation to create a pipeline of novel therapies. Our dedication to these causes is supported by collaborations with some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies. As a wholly owned subsidiary of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. based in Tokyo, Japan, we are proud to be part of this revolutionary mission.

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