Edinburgh Cancer Research

Neil Carragher

Drug Discovery

Professor Neil Carragher - Professor of Drug Discovery

Research in a Nutshell 

The Edinburgh Drug Discovery group embraces advanced technology platforms and disease models, which drive innovations in oncology drug discovery and development. Our group is highly proficient in image-based phenotypic screening working in close collaboration with several pharmaceutical industry partners and academic groups to identify hit molecules, advance small-molecule lead generation and classify compound mechanism of action (MOA). Our laboratories are equipped with the latest kinetic (IncuCyte s3®) and high-content (ImageXpress-micoXLS, ImageXpress-confocal HT.ai and fast light-sheet oblique plane microscopy) screening platforms, fully integrated with plate-handling robotics, barcode sample tracking, image analysis and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) workflows. We are founding members of the European Cell-Based Assay Interest group (http://www.eucai.org), and together with the Universities of Oxford and Dundee, we are the third major academic hub for the National Phenotypic Screening Centre (http://npsc.ac.uk/). We also incorporate Reverse Phase Protein Array (RPPA) and NanoString analysis to support biomarker discovery and drug MOA studies at the transcriptomic and post-translational pathway levels.

The overarching aims of our group are to enhance clinical predictivity of preclinical oncology drug discovery and improve patient stratification and efficacy, by applying an evidence-led translational research platform, incorporating disease relevant models, innovative chemical design, quantitative imaging, genomic/proteomic-discovery-informatics and AI/ML tools. To achieve these goals we work in close collaboration with local clinicians, multidisciplinary academic research groups and industry partners.


Research Programme


Neil Carragher group September 2023



Neil Carragher

Principal Investigator, Professor of Drug Discovery and Director of Edinburgh Cancer Discovery Unit
John Dawson

Deputy Leader of Phenotypic Screening

Richard Elliott

Head of High-throughput Screening

Alison Munro

Laboratory Manager (HTPU Microarray Services)

Jayne Culley

Research Assistant

Martin Lee

Imaging Engineer (joint with Val Brunton)

Alex Loftus

Post Doc (joint with Margaret Frame)

Mitch Foster

ECAT Fellow

Becka Hughes

Post Doc

Mungo Harvey

PhD Student

Vanessa Smer-Barreto

XDF Fellow

Nhan Pham

Senior Drug Screening Scientist (joint with Siddharthan Chandran)

Rod Carter

Research Scientist (joint with Siddharthan Chandran)

Steve Shave

Research Fellow


PA : jan.irvine@ed.ac.uk


  • AstraZeneca
  • Radius Health Inc.
  • Carrick Therapeutics
  • Eli Lilly
  • Janssen
  • National Phenotypic Screening Centre: www.npsc.org
  • European Cell-based Assay Interest group: www.eucai.org
  • Global RPPA society: http://capmm.gmu.edu/2015-rppa-globalworkshop-home
  • Asier Unciti-Broceta: Innovative Therapeutics Group
  • Steve Pollard Group 
  • Margaret Frame: Cancer Biology Group
  • Val Brunton: Cancer Therapeutics Group

Partners and Funders

  • AstraZeneca
  • Radius Health Inc.
  • Carrick therapeutics
  • Eli Lilly
  • Janssen
  • EPSRC Research Grant (2016) (Unciti-Broceta, Patton, Leung, Carragher) Palladium-activated prodrug therapy: a novel focal therapy for localised cancers of unmet need (5YR): £1,074,212
  • Wellcome Trust ISSF (Jan 2016 –Jan 2017) (Von-Kriegsheim, Carragher and Wills). Drug target deconvolution platform. (1YR): £54,368 + in-kind coallboration with Medimmune
  • Brain Tumour Charity Quest for Cures award (2016) (Pollard Dirks, Brennan, Helin and Carragher). Chromatin proteins as drug targets for glioblastoma. Research funding (5YR): £1,481,356
  • Mechanistically informed Phenotypic Screening to Advance New Therapeutic Treatments for Oesophageal Cancer Patients £104,483

Scientific Themes

Drug Discovery, Phenotypic Screening, Glioma, Esophageal cancer, breast cancer

Technology Expertise

High content imaging, image-analysis, image-informatics, Reverse phase protein array