Paul M. O'Neill graduated in Chemistry and Pharmacology at the University of Liverpool in 1990 and also obtained a Ph.D degree here in 1995. Following graduation, he was appointed Roche Lecturer in Medicinal Chemistry in the Department of Pharmacology at Liverpool from 1995-96. In 1997 he carried out postdoctoral research with Professor Gary H. Posner at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA. In 1998 Paul was appointed to a lectureship between the Departments of Chemistry and Pharmacology at Liverpool and he became Senior Lecturer in 2003 and Reader in 2005. Paul works in several areas of synthetic organic chemistry and pharmacology with a strong emphasis on drug-design, chemical biology and medicinal chemistry of anti-infectives. For News Items see here
In terms of expertise in drug discovery, the O’Neill group operates at all stages of the drug discovery pipeline including hit triaging, hit to lead optimisation, lead optimisation to preclinical candidate selection with several active programmes ongoing at all of these stages. Currently the main target diseases of the O'Neill group include malaria, Tb and human filariasis in collaboration with the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). At Liverpool, Paul's group has candidate selected three novel antimalarials with one of these, Isoquine, entering clinical trials in 2008 in partnership with GSK. Since 2021, Paul has also been working with the Medicines’s for Malaria Venture (MMV) on the discovery and development of novel 4-aminoquinolines without the herg liabilities or toxicity liabilities associated with currently used drugs such as amodiaquine.
More recently his group have undertaken research into novel antibacterial drugs for the treatment of filariasis as part of the Anti-Wolbachia (AWOL)Consortium, a drug discovery initiative run out of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM). Within the Dept of Chemistry, medicinal chemistry optimisation of screening hits led to a first in class drug candidate AWZ1066 which entered Phase 1 trials in 2022 in collaboration with Eisai Ltd. In related infectious disease drug discovery Paul’s Group is working with the Biagini group at LSTM on anti-tubercular drug discovery and this collaboration has already made a strong impact through several MRC funded drug discovery projects. The most recent major research activity within the drug discovery group has been in the area of development of small molecule treatments of snake venom envenomation in a project funded by the Wellcome Trust (2.6 M funding, with Prof Nick Casewell, LSTM) .In addition to medicinal chemistry, Paul’s group also works in the area of chemical biology and has contributed multiple papers on elucidation of the mechanisms of action of various classes of anti-infective agent with a particular focus on small molecule probe design.
Paul has supervised 52 PhD students to completion, published 191 papers (WOS h-index =55, Google Scholar h-index = 70) and was awarded the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) Malcom Campbell Award for his antimalarial drug discovery research in 2011.