ApconiX Welcomes Dr Craig Thomas

Dr Craig Thomas

ApconiX is delighted to welcome Dr Craig Thomas who joins the team of nonclinical safety experts and will be working with Dr Richard Knight.  Craig has thirty-four years of drug discovery and management experience in the pharmaceutical industry.  Working in both drug discovery, regulatory and investigative toxicology, Craig has steered CNS, cardiovascular and diabetic drug project teams to IND and Phase I as well as carrying out due diligence and competitive intelligence focusing on neuroscience.

Academic Career

Craig was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Connecticut and from a young age wanted to be a veterinarian. After gaining a Bachelor’s degree in Animal Bioscience (pre-veterinary medicine) and subsequently a Master’s degree in Veterinary Science at Penn State University, Craig realised that he had truly found his calling in laboratory research in toxicology.

Craig moved to Michigan State University where he carried out research into “Mechanisms for the release of iron from ferritin and their relationship to lipid peroxidation and cytotoxicity” at the Department of Biochemistry and Center of Environmental Toxicology for his dual PhD programme.  He then moved to Oregon State University and became a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr Donald J Reed.

Work Experience

Craig then briefly worked in the chemical industry before joining the Marion Merrell Dow Research Institute in Cincinnati.  It was a true research environment where senior leaders were professors or had previously worked at the National Institute of Health,.  Working there for 7 years, Craig commented, “It was academia without the grant writing!”

Marion Merrell Dow Inc was acquired by Hoechst A.G in 1996 at which time Craig joined Lilly Research Laboratories and moved from discovery research to toxicology helping with the integration of discovery and toxicology initially in investigative toxicology.

Craig worked with Lilly Research Laboratories in Indianapolis for the next 26 years, with an over 2 years spell in Belgium supporting that laboratory’s shift to early-stage safety assessment and investigative toxicology.

Moving into management and then returning to research leading activities in toxicogenomics and metabonomics, Craig also spent time in the due diligence organisation evaluating external opportunities for technologies, molecules, and enterprises of potential interest to Lilly.

Finally leaving the laboratory, Craig joined the newly formed strategic competitive intelligence unit working with drug development teams from Discovery all the way through clinical development and commercialization.  As CI gradually shifted more towards a focus on competitor strategies and R&D expenditures, Craig chose to retire and seek opportunities that continued to whet his appetite for science, particularly toxicology forming his own consultancy firm.

Working at ApconiX

Craig commented, “I love science and I love data and using both to come up with a drug that meets an unmet patient need has been a great goal to strive for.  Toxicology is where you make a really significant impact.  Without the appropriate risk: benefit profile there isn’t an opportunity for a drug.”

Adding, “Having known Ruth and the work done at ApconiX, I was keen to return to project toxicology and look forward to the opportunity to work with a cross-disciplinary team of internal and external experts.”

Richard commented “It will be fantastic to have someone of Craig’s extensive experience in drug discovery and development, as part of the ApconiX team. Toxicology is a team sport, and we try to work as a group as much as possible. Craig will undoubtedly bring plenty of knowledge and experience to the table”.

Interests Outside Work

Craig splits his time between Tennessee and Indiana.  “Tennessee provides the great outdoors but having two grandchildren in Indianapolis draws us back. I love being outdoors, playing golf and racquet sports including Pickle Ball (a sort of cross between badminton and tennis played on a court about half the size of a tennis court) although I’m constantly being told to “dink not smash, the ball!”