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Aled Edwards (born June 1, 1962) is the director and CEO of the Structural Genomics Consortium and holds the Banbury Chair of Medical Research at the University of Toronto, Canada and is Visiting Professor of Chemical Biology at the University of Oxford, U.K.
Edwards and collaborators have focused on determining the three-dimensional structures of proteins encoded by human and microbial genomes. He and his colleagues have contributed over 2,000 entries into the Protein Data Bank. Notable structures include that of RNA polymerase II, human replication protein A, the Epstein-Barr virus Nuclear Antigen 1, the bacterial magnesium channel CorA, ZMPSTE24, a membrane protease mutated in people with progeria. The structural output includes over 1,000 different human proteins, which as of June 2012 accounted for ~15% of the structural coverage of the human proteome.
As the Structural Genomics Consortium, Edwards and colleagues in academia and industry have been using the wealth of structural information to guide the synthesis of chemical probes. These have been used to explore the links between epigenetics and disease and to identify drug targets in neglected diseases.
Open access science
Edwards has championed the view that drug discovery advances would be made more rapidly within an open access research environment in which no patents are filed, and materials and ideas are exchanged without restriction on use. The participation of many large pharmaceutical companies provides scientific and economic support for this research model.
For his leadership role in promoting open access drug discovery, Edwards was named a Senior Ashoka Fellow in 2015.
Biotechnology and business
Edwards was a founder of Affinium Pharmaceuticals, a Toronto-based company focusing on the development of antibiotics. The Structural Genomics Consortium has spun out Harbinger Biotechnology and Engineering to market laboratory automation and 1DegreeBio, which provides a forum for the scientific community to share product reviews. Edwards also served as the scientific advisor for the television series ReGenesis.
Born in Wales, Edwards moved to Canada in 1965 with his parents Undeg and Iwan Edwards. His father was awarded the Order of Canada in 1995 for his contributions to Canadian music. His brother, Owain Edwards, is an entomologist at CSIRO in Australia. Edwards is married to Elizabeth Edwards, director of BioZone and Professor of Chemical Engineering and Applied Chemistry at the University of Toronto and daughter of Leonhard and Jeanne Wolfe. Jeanne was awarded the Order of Canada in 2009 for her contributions to Canadian planning.
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- Edwards, Aled M.; Isserlin, Ruth; Bader, Gary D.; Frye, Stephen V.; Willson, Timothy M.; Yu, Frank H. (2011). "Too many roads not taken". Nature. 470 (7333): 163–5. doi:10.1038/470163a. PMID 21307913.
- Edwards, Aled M; Bountra, Chas; Kerr, David J; Willson, Timothy M (2009). "Open access chemical and clinical probes to support drug discovery". Nature Chemical Biology. 5 (7): 436–40. doi:10.1038/nchembio0709-436. PMID 19536100.
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