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"We have truly world-class drug toxicology experience here"

“I’ve worked within both academia and industry, but I think that few places are as exciting to work at as RISE. There’s never a dull moment!”
Ian Cotgreave, Vice President of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Toxicology at RISE, wishes that more toxicologists were aware of the career opportunities a research institute has to offer.

It all began at a London hospital in the early 1980s. A young Ian Cotgreave was working on his thesis on metabolism and the distribution of an asthma medicine, because although he had been taught that pharmacology was about the effect you want the chemicals to have on humans, he saw that there was a downside.

“All medicines have toxic effects, side effects, and I was curious about how that all worked.”

About the same time, he met a researcher from Karolinska Institutet, a world leader in the field, who noticed the young researcher’s interest and suggested he look to Sweden. So, in 1984, he moved to Stockholm, marking the start of a long academic career in toxicology that resulted in a professorship in the subject. Twenty years later, in 2004, Ian decided to try the private sector, joining Astra Zeneca.

“I worked there for ten years as department head within preclinical toxicology. Our job was to identify potentially harmful effects already during the design phase, thereby ensuring that potential medicines could be given to people with good safety margins.”

Ian Cotgreave is Vice President of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Toxicology at RISE.

Ian joined RISE in 2019, and since February 2022, he has been heading the newly formed department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Toxicology. As Vice President, he sees the advantage of having worked within both academia and industry now that he is supporting Swedish innovation by helping companies to realise their ideas. Because when those ideas revolve around chemicals, the journey is not always straightforward, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises.

“If you lack toxicological experience, or the necessary experimental infrastructure, it can prove an obstacle to realising your idea. That’s when we, the toxicologists at RISE, can comprise a one-stop shop and help out with everything from project planning and regulatory trials through government inspections to safety assessments. We have truly world-class drug toxicology experience here, and it’s also relevant to other industries such as the chemical industry.”

One current focus area is the development of computer-based predictions and the use of AI to assess the potential risks of various structures. This enables the early identification of the parts of a molecule that could possibly cause problems in the long term.

“Large companies have used this technology to significantly reduce their process times, and here at RISE we can enable smaller companies to benefit from it as well.”

We get to work with basic research, just like in academia, and we get to work with development, just like in industry but within a vast range of different sectors.

The multifaceted and multifunctional aspects are what Ian most appreciates about his job as a toxicologist at RISE.

“We get to work with basic research, just like in academia, and we get to work with development, just like in industry but within a vast range of different sectors. Small companies, large companies, medical technology, the chemical industry, the pharmaceutical industry – we meet such diversity that there’s never a dull moment! What’s more, we’re expanding, so we’ll be able to broaden our opportunities to help Swedish companies with any support they might possibly need within toxicology.”


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+46 10 516 63 81

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