Here is a funny little correction I obtained when I tried to type the word “encycle” into my iPhone last week. Of course, this word does not exist and “encircle” is what iPhone wanted me to use. Correction! “Encycle” had not existed until about two years ago, which is when we started this science-driven drug discovery firm here in Toronto together with MaRS Innovation.
I want to emphasize that Encycle is very much a science enterprise that targets synthetic macrocycles and attempts to understand their drug-like properties. And, while my iPhone still corrects me as I type, Encycle’s drug discovery program is gaining momentum. I tip my hat off to Encycle’s CEO, Dr. Jeff Coull, Dr. Andrew Roughton (VP of Operations), and Dr. Jen Hickey (Group leader), who form the core of Encycle’s day-to-day management. Now we even have an outlet in Montreal, wherein the beginnings of a vigorous research program are being created. I would be remiss to omit the contributions of Professor Eric Marsault’s team of the U. Sherbrooke. Eric has been instrumental in our recent push to amass a collection of macrocycles using aziridine aldehydes. I am also very grateful to our collaborators from Merck, Pfizer, GSK, and AstraZeneca. These guys have made many tangible contributions to Encycle’s program.
If you want to see how serious we are about science – just take a look at Jeff Coull’s graduate work (below). This is one of his Nature papers from grad school (cited 674 times, which is not too bad…). Despite the fact that he is not a chemist by training, Jeff really understands what science is all about and is steering Encycle in the right direction. In fact, it is the synergy between different disciplines, including pharmacology, that will be key to Encycle’s future.
In closing, I want to thank Marilyn Smith of the San Francisco-based Biocentury, who let me post a pdf file of a publication that appeared in Nature’s SciBx collection about a week or so ago. The piece was written by Mike Haas. I love the title, which suggests that my modest contamination of the English language is now a verb. The article details Encycle’s collaboration with Merck and also mentions the term “nacellin”, which we use to describe our macrocycles. You might wonder: why is that? Well, true to its name, “nacellin” refers to a molecule which, akin to a nacelle (French for “cradle”), protects its delicate polar groups from solvation/desolvation processes. I thought this word would be appropriate to describe what we are ultimately attempting to accomplish, which is why we use it.