About us

Scientific Team


Chris Pickford 2Chris Pickford PhDHead of Drug Discovery

Chris is currently the Head of Drug Discovery at Centauri Therapeutics. He leads the scientific team to deliver drug candidates into the clinic, responsible for the pre-clinical labs at Discovery Park, Sandwich, UK. Before joining Centauri Therapeutics, Chris was a Research Director at Agalimmune, an immuno-oncology biotech and a project leader for Salvensis, a neglected diseases drug discovery company. In addition Chris worked for 12 years as part of Pfizer’s Research and Development organization, leading infectious diseases projects from new target identification to first-in-human trials. Chris studied for a biochemistry degree at the University of Birmingham and obtained a PhD from the National Institute of Medical Research, London.




Christine Watson 2Christine Watson PhD

Christine is leading our antibacterial projects, and is responsible for Medicinal Chemistry design across the portfolio. Prior to joining Centauri Therapeutics, she worked at Pfizer where she led Medicinal Chemistry teams in areas including Pain, Cardiovascular and Respiratory. She is experienced in drug discovery from hit identification through to candidate nomination.

She holds an MA and Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge and completed a Wellcome Trust post-doctoral fellowship at Columbia University, New York.

She has authored 9 peer-reviewed publications and is an inventor on 5 patents.



Mel GlossopMel Glossop BSc (Hons), MRSC, CCHem

Mel Glossop has over 20 years’ experience in both Pharmaceutical R&D and Biotechnology environments. As a project synthetic leader for Pfizer Mel led multiple global chemistry teams, both in-house and externally to enable delivery of molecules from hit-to-lead through to candidate molecule scale up to support Phase 1.  Mel has contributed to the success of multiple drug candidates for the Pfizer pain portfolio and has extensive experience of working within multidisciplinary teams to deliver all aspects of chemistry. Mel graduated from the University of Southampton, is a chartered chemist from the RSC and is author and inventor on multiple patents and publications.




Helen Lavender

Helen Lavender BSc (Hons), MSc

Helen leads the Aptamer Discovery Programs at Centauri Therapeutics. Helen has extensive experience of drug discovery, having worked on both classical small molecule and novel biological therapeutic approaches.  Helen has led global biology teams comprising of collaborators drawn from Pharma, Biotech and Clinical backgrounds. During her time at Pfizer, Helen was responsible for defining and delivering the biology program supporting preclinical characterisation of a novel gene therapy agent to Hepatitis C Virus. This included both authoring and contributing to associated peer-reviewed publications. Her technical experience encompasses new target identification, assay configuration, screening cascade development, hit identification and lead characterisation.  Helen graduated from the University of Bristol. 



Raul ElguetaRaul Elgueta PhD

Raul Elgueta is Centauri’s lead immunologist, responsible for the immunological characterisation of Centauri’s molecules across the portfolio. Before joining Centauri Therapeutics, Raul was the operational leader of the Immunomodulation Hub at King’s College London. His work focused on stem cells in regenerative medicine program and on T and B cells in the context of transplantation and inflammatory disorders. Raul is the author of a number of peer-reviewed publications. Raul gained his Bachelor of Biological Sciences (BSc), at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile and his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of Chile.





E LeireEmma Leire PhD

Emma Leire is the Lead microbiologist at Centauri Therapeutics responsible for the in vitro and in vivo microbiology. Emma completed a joint PhD from University of Nottingham, UK and University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain in nanomedicine through an Erasmus Mundus Fellowship. Her thesis work included synthesis of novel dendritic scaffolds for antibacterial applications, studying the impact of dendrimer generations on anti-adhesion, quorum sensing and membrane permeability. Emma has been a visiting scholar at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) studying the impact of innate immunity on pathogenesis, and has worked as a researcher at diagnostic company LifeAssays, Sweden, developing tests for inflammatory biomarkers. She earned a BSc in Molecular Biology from University of Lund, Sweden and a MSc in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of Copenhagen, Denmark.