This week’s blog post is an interview with Richard Thompson, our new Scientific Officer. He will be developing our new drug repositioning programme, and so here’s your chance to find out a little about him:

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What were you doing before you joined Findacure?
I’ve been based at the Cambridge University Museum of Zoology for the past five years, either completing my PhD, or helping to organise practical palaeontology classes for the students. During my PhD I studied the evolution of moles, hedgehogs and shrews, and attempted to use fossils, DNA, and characters of their anatomy (usually skeletons) to understand how different groups were related to each other. I also spent time teaching small groups of university students about evolution, and visiting natural history museums around the world to observe rare specimens.

Why did you choose to join the Findacure team?
After my PhD I was really keen to find a job that allowed me to use my scientific knowledge and research skills in a field that would impact people’s lives. Findacure really excites me, because we are aiming to help the rare disease community on multiple levels: establishing patient groups, repositioning drugs and the promotion of scientific research will all help to drive forward the understanding and treatment of rare diseases. Findacure’s ‘fundamental disease’ concept is also an ingenious idea, which really highlights the importance of research into rare disease, and its possible impact on our understanding of human biology as a whole – it is a concept I am sure will have great appeal to the scientific community.

What do you want to achieve most at Findacure?
My main aim is to make a success of Findacure’s drug repositioning programme. The first time a drug is prescribed to a fundamental disease patient as a consequence of a clinical trial funded by Findacure will be a major landmark for the charity, and something I’ll be working really hard to realise.

What are your hobbies outside of work?
Aside from watching large numbers of DVD boxed sets? Well, when I was younger I spent many hours playing the drums, primarily as part of a brass band. Sadly, as I live in a flat, drum kits are seen as a little anti-social, so I pass my time doing a bit of painting, and occasionally playing a few board games. I’m also trying to run and swim reasonably regularly, and expect I’ll be using these less-than-impressive abilities for a fundraising venture soon!

What’s your favourite book/film/TV show and why?
Surprisingly enough, as someone with a scientific PhD, I’m a bit of a geek – so I’m forced to stick with the classic Lord of the Rings as my favourite book. I wouldn’t like to count the number of time I’d read it. I’m also a bit of a Star Wars fan. What better way to escape the stresses of modern life than escaping to a fantasy world/galaxy (far, far away…)? As for TV, I am a firm believer that ‘The Wire’ is the greatest television show ever made – its dark, gritty and portrays characters who blur the lines between right and wrong for fun. It also has a guy called Bubbles. What’s not to love?

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If you want to contact Richard, please email: rick@findacure.org.uk