Dr Andy Chapman
Winner: 2020 Rising Star in Industry Award
For leading the scientific team of a small diabetes spin-out company towards one of the highest value exits for an early stage technology, and for pioneering new commercial opportunities with a second company founded after the acquisition.
Celebrate Dr Andy Chapman
Dr Chapman’s work at Carbometrics/Ziylo has focused on the pioneering work initiated by Professor Anthony Davis that involves designing and building a molecule that is able to recognise and bind to glucose in complex biological mixtures like blood. Glucose is one of the most important molecules for living systems and building something in a lab that can recognise it amongst many other similar molecules is a huge chemistry challenge.
For a diabetic, knowing the quantity of glucose in your blood is critical. Glucose sensors capable of providing diabetic patients with this information have only been made possible by the existence of natural molecules that can recognise and bind to glucose. Carbometrics’ technology has many advantages over the natural molecules that have been used to date and the team are working hard to exploit these favourable features by developing new glucose sensing technologies that can be used to make better and cheaper glucose sensors.
In parallel, Dr Chapman also works with parents company Novo Nordisk, focusing on taking the same Glucose Binding Molecules and using them to make the holy grail of insulin therapies – Glucose Sensitive Insulin. Many diabetics are only alive because they can take insulin every day, but even the best insulin therapies are far from perfect at controlling the patients’ blood glucose and can easily kill if the dose is too high. He is helping Novo Nordisk to use the Glucose Binding Molecules to make a safer and more effective insulin.Read full biography
Dr Chapman completed his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the University of Bristol. After two postdoctoral positions, he joined a London-based start-up - Econic Technologies - where he worked as a research scientist for two years, developing specialised catalysts that trap carbon dioxide into plastics. He then moved to Kingston University to begin his independent academic career where he was appointed as Senior Lecturer. Keen to move back into industry and back to Bristol, Dr Chapman joined Ziylo as CSO in 2017 to lead the company’s scientific team during its transition from the University to its own labs. Later that year he was appointed as a director and ultimately played a key role in directing the company towards its landmark acquisition by Novo Nordisk in August 2018. During the acquisition, Andy and the other directors span-out Carbometrics, with Andy leading as CEO, to commercialise the same Glucose Binding Molecule technology they sold to Novo Nordisk for glucose sensing.
What has been a highlight for you?
The highlight of my chemistry career has been joining a tiny start-up and being integral to its survival, development and eventual success.
What is something you are looking forward to?
I am really looking forward to getting more opportunities to share what I have learned in running a scientific start-up and inspiring others to do the same.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in chemistry?
Try not to get focused in on one area. What is popular may not always stay that way. Get a broad range of skills from postdoctoral positions so you can pivot into different roles later.
What is an exciting scientific development on the horizon?
In addition to Glucose Sensitive Insulin of course, gene silencing with targeted siRNAs. This is already happening but the potential has barely been unlocked.