Prior to joining Applied BioMath, Alison had an extensive modeling and simulation career at Pfizer, Inc., beginning in Sandwich, UK in 1994. In 2007, she transferred to the translational research group in Groton, CT. Most recently, she was a member of the translational modeling and simulation group in the biomedicines design department in Cambridge, MA, where she was the translational modeling and simulation lead supporting the oncology research unit.
During her career at Pfizer, Inc. Alison supported many research units including pain, cardiovascular, antibacterials, inflammation and immunology, immuno-oncology, and oncology to establish the use of modeling and translational pharmacology to drive projects and increase efficiency and effectiveness in achieving portfolio goals. In these roles she provided modeling and simulation support to small and large molecule therapeutics at different stages of research and development. Alison specializes in modeling and simulation of novel biotherapeutic drugs, including antibody drug conjugates, bispecific biologics, T-cell engagers, in order to understand complex mechanisms, validate targets, and translate to the clinic.
Alison graduated from St. Andrews University, Scotland, UK with a first-class honors degree in biochemistry. She is completing her PhD studies at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands on 'QSP modeling of biotherapeutic drugs in oncology.'
What is your role at Applied BioMath?
"I am lucky enough to work in both the Business Development (BD) group and the Science group. In the BD group, I am VP of Scientific Collaborations, so I meet with potential clients to talk about their modeling needs and any problems they might have been experiencing with their work. Then I scope out how we can address these issues using modeling and simulation. In the Science group, I am the PI on our ADC grant which is a lot of fun. We were awarded the grant in 2020 from the NIH for the development of QSP platform model and strategy for ADCs. It is a three-year project that I am leading.”
What do you love most about working here?
“I really love the diversity of the work. We work with a wide range of clients—big pharma companies and small biotechs. We also work with a lot of diverse therapeutics—protein therapeutics, cell therapies, gene therapies, small molecules etc! We work in many different stages of drug discovery and development from the early design phase all the way to the end of development. Sometimes I am working with a biotech company on optimal antibody design and then other times I am working with a big pharma looking for signals of efficacy in their data and using modeling to help determine the Phase 2 dose. I absolutely love this whole diversity. Secondly, I love the people. The people at Applied BioMath are smart, kind, and fun to work with.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
“Being able to see the impact of our work in drug discovery and development is very rewarding. I started doing modeling and simulation when it was more of a of niche thing. There were not a lot of groups doing it, so it is nice to see it being used more routinely across the industry. Modeling and simulation have been in drug development for a while, but it has now moved earlier in the pipeline. We can help with things like selecting the right target and designing the best molecule. People are really being able to see the impact of modeling and simulation and I think that is really rewarding.”
What was your specialty prior to coming to work for Applied BioMath?
“In the last 10 years, it has been modeling of complex biotherapeutics in oncology. Before Applied BioMath, I was at Pfizer for 25 years. For most of that time, I worked in modeling and simulation. I worked on both small molecules and biotherapeutics and worked on many drugs that proceeded to the clinic, especially antibody drug conjugates, which is one of my specialty areas. Two of the drugs, Mylotarg and Besponsa, got onto the market, so that was cool!”
What made you get into the field of life sciences?
“I have always really loved science. In fact, chemistry and math were probably my favorite subjects at school, but then when I started university, I fell in love with biochemistry. I wanted to do something that was either biology or medical focused.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
“I like cooking. I also like running—running to offset the cooking. I enjoy reading and hanging out with my friends and family.”
If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
“I think I would buy a private jet, so I could go visit my family in Scotland on a whim. Just drop in for tea! I am kind of far away from my family so it would be nice if I could just go and visit them.”
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
“I once had lunch with Michelle Obama at the White House. My daughter, who also really likes cooking, entered Michelle Obama’s Healthy Lunchtime Challenge about six years ago. They chose one winner from each state, and she won for Connecticut. They held an official lunch at the White House for all the winners.”
What inspires you every day?
“My family. My mom died of breast cancer when I was young, and her mom died young of breast cancer as well. So definitely my mother inspires me every day—my family in general.”