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John P. Overington


John studied Chemistry at the University of Bath, where he graduated in 1987. He then studied for a PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London in the Department of Crystallography - whilst there, he was involved in developing automated approaches to protein modelling, contributing to the development of the software programmes COMPOSER and MODELLER, however his major research was on sequence-structure relationships, exploring the constraints applied by the local physical environment of a residue in its mutation patterns (JOY and HOMSTRAD). After completing his PhD, John held a postdoctoral position at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund extending this research.

John then joined Pfizer, originally as a computational chemist, progressing to a role where he led a multidisciplinary group combining rational drug design with structural biology. During this time, John became fascinated by the reasons for target/drug attrition, and the falling productivity of the entire pharmaceutical industry.

John then moved to a small biotech company, where he developed a series of platforms to improve drug discovery, including the SAR database StARLite. In 2008, John was centrally involved in the transfer of this database to the EMBL-EBI, where the successor is known as ChEMBL, a large Open database of drug discovery data. More recently, the work has extended into patent informatics.


From SureChem to SureChEMBL (ICIC 2014) ChEMBL - A Large-scale Bioactivity and Drug Discovery Resource (ICIC 2012) Chembl - Open Data for Drug Discovery (ICIC 2011)