Academy Discourse: The antibody revolution; turning scientific inventions into medicines & companies
Sir Gregory Winter is Deputy Director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Laboratory of Molecular Biology and a Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge. His research interests are in biotechnology, particularly protein engineering and the development of therapeutic antibodies and peptides.
Sir Gregory has a B.A. in natural sciences from Cambridge University (1973) and a PhD in protein chemistry (1976) and he has been a staff member at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology since 1981. He has served as Head of the Division of Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry (1994-2008); Deputy Director (2006-) and Acting Director (2007-2008). In 1990 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and in 1997 he was awarded a CBE. In 2004 he became a Knight Batchelor for services to science.
Sir Gregory is also an inventor and entrepreneur. In the 1980s, he invented methods to make therapeutic antibodies, and founded two biotechnology companies, Cambridge Antibody Technology (1990) and Domantis (2000), in which the MRC had an equity stake, to exploit his inventions. These companies were sold to AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline in 2006 for a combined value of more than GBP £900M. His inventions have led to several blockbuster antibody drugs, including Herceptin, Avastin and Humira, and to commercial returns to the MRC of more than £330M. Most recently, in 2009, he set up Bicycle Therapeutics to develop drugs based on his inventions in the field of cyclic peptides.