Meet the Avacta Group team
Click each biography for more information
Alastair is Chief Executive of Avacta Group plc.
He has been responsible for the management and strategic development of the company and has led the public and private M&A activities of the Group since the IPO on AIM which was completed via a reverse merger in 2006. Alastair is a respected and trusted executive with many years experience of investor relations in the UK, Europe and US and has successfully delivered multiple follow-on fundraisings for the Group totalling over £120m.
Avacta Group is developing next generation oncology drugs based on its proprietary Affimer® and preCISIONTM platforms through its clinical stage Therapeutics Division based in Cambridge, UK. Its Diagnostics Division, based in Wetherby, UK, is developing a pipeline of diagnostic immunoassays utilising Affimer® reagents and works with partners world-wide to develop Affimer-powered products. The Group has around one hundred employees across its two sites and a business development team in the US.
He has a degree and PhD in Physics from Manchester University and, following a period of working in the US, took up a position at Leeds University in 1995. At the age of 38 he was awarded a Chair of Molecular Biophysics and had, over ten years, grew one of the leading biophysics research groups in Europe before he left his academic career in 2007 to focus full time on delivering value to Avacta shareholders.
Tony joined Avacta from AHR, an international architecture and building consultancy practice, where he has held the role of Finance Director since 2011.Between 2007 and 2011, Tony was the Chief Financial Officer of AIM listed Fusion IP plc, an IP commercialisation company, which was subsequently acquired by IP Group plc in 2014. There, he played a key role in supporting the Chief Executive Officer in growing the business and oversaw all finance activities as well as directly supporting life sciences and health technology companies in Fusion’s portfolio.Tony has also held senior finance roles within Eversheds LLP, KCOM Group Plc, Eldon Electric Ltd and Hickson International Plc.
Dr Forster brings over 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry, most recently leading Immunocore as Chief Executive Officer to become a world-leading immuno-oncology biotech, raising over £230 million in equity and non-dilutive funding as well as securing partnerships with AstraZeneca and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The early part of Dr Forster’s career was at GSK and then he went on to hold a number of senior roles in Pfizer where he became Head of Development and Operations for the EU and Asia, a role in which he was responsible for drug development activities across multiple geographies and was involved in bringing several drugs to market, including Celebrex® (celecoxib) and Relpax® (eletriptan). Since leaving Pfizer, Dr Forster’s roles have included the Chief Executive Officer of UK-based Creabilis.
Dr Forster holds a PhD in neurophysiology from Liverpool University and an MBA from Henley Management College. He is Chairman of the MedCity project that promotes the Life Sciences in the London/Cambridge/Oxford “Golden Triangle”. He is an Honorary Visiting Professor of the Pharmacology and Physiology Department at the University of Liverpool, a Board member of OSCHR (Office for Strategic Coordination of Health Research) and the National Genomics Board.
Trevor Nicholls has over 35 years of commercial experience building international businesses in the life sciences sector. As Chief Commercial Officer and Executive Vice President of Affymetrix, he was responsible for global operations including sales, marketing, product development and manufacturing, overseeing 600 staff across 8 locations worldwide. In this role he grew product revenue from US$249 million to US$330 million in two years with the launch of a large number of new products including major instrument systems during that period. In addition, he has over 14 years of technical marketing and sales experience in the life science reagents and instrumentation sector, holding a variety of senior commercial roles in Amersham International (now part of GE Healthcare).Dr Nicholls is currently Chief Executive Officer of the not-for-profit CAB International, an intergovernmental organisation owned by 47 member countries whose mission is to improve lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment. He is also a Non-Executive Director of hVivo plc, the pioneer of human challenge models of respiratory disease and Conidia Bioscience Ltd a UK biotech company that develops, manufactures and sells tests to detect microbial contamination in fuel. He was also founder and CEO of Oxagen, a spin-out company from the University of Oxford where he successfully raised approximately £50 million over three venture-backed financing rounds and secured major commercial partnerships. Prior to that he had also worked in consultancy with McKinsey.Trevor brings great experience in commercial and corporate strategy, international sales and marketing and building life sciences businesses.
Paul has extensive financial experience across a number of industries including biotech, pharmaceutical and telecommunications. He is currently Chief Financial Officer of Vectura Group plc, an industry leading inhaled drug delivery specialist listed on the FTSE Main Market.
Prior to his current position, he was Chief Financial Officer of Immunocore Limited, a leading biotech company focused on the development of a new class of immunotherapeutic drugs based on proprietary T-cell receptor technology. Paul has also served as Director of Global Finance Operations at Vodafone plc and spent more than 25 years at GlaxoSmithKline (“GSK”), where he held a number of senior roles including Head of Global Finance Services and Chief Financial Officer for GSK’s Italian pharmaceutical business.
Paul is Chair of the Audit Committee.
Mark A. Goldberg, MD
Mark A. Goldberg, MD, is a medical oncologist and hematologist and a biotechnology executive. In addition to being a Non-executive Director of Avacta, he currently serves on the boards of directors of ImmunoGen, Idera Pharmaceuticals, GlycoMimetics, Blueprint Medicines, and Walden Biosciences. Dr. Goldberg was part of the executive management team of Synageva Biopharma from 2011 until 2014. Prior to that, he served in various management capacities of increasing responsibility at Genzyme Corporation from 1996 until 2011, including as senior vice president of Clinical Development. Prior to joining Genzyme, Dr. Goldberg was a full-time staff physician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, where he still holds an appointment. He is an associate professor of Medicine (part-time) at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Goldberg is also a longtime American Cancer Society (ACS) and ACS Cancer Action Network volunteer. Dr. Goldberg was a member of the American Cancer Society New England Division Board from 2010-2017. He has been a member of the national Board of Directors of the American Cancer Society since 2019. He received his AB from Harvard College (magna cum laude) and his MD (cum laude) from Harvard Medical School (Harvard MIT Program in Health Sciences and Technology).
Christina Coughlin, MD, PhD is the Chief Executive Officer of CytoImmune Therapeutics. Dr. Coughlin joined CytoImmune from Rubius Therapeutics, Inc. where she served as the Chief Medical Officer and led the clinical development, translational medicine and regulatory efforts in the allogeneic red cell therapy platform. Prior to Rubius, Dr. Coughlin was with Tmunity Therapeutics, Inc., where she served as Chief Medical Officer and was responsible for the development of autologous CAR-T and TCR-T cellular therapies. Dr. Coughlin served as the Chief Medical Officer for Immunocore, Ltd where she led the development of KimmtrakTM, recently approved for the treatment of metastatic uveal melanoma. Dr. Coughlin has held other leadership roles in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields in her career including Oncology Asset Team Leader at Pfizer and Clinical Program Team Lead at Novartis. Dr. Coughlin is an oncologist and immunologist, having received her M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and completed fellowships in Hematology and Oncology at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and in the Translational Research Group under the direction of Carl June, M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania.
After obtaining a BA (hons) in history from Nottingham Trent University, Michael undertook a career in marketing and communications, initially with the NHS and Department of Health. He moved into the life sciences industry working for Smith & Nephew. Here he helped to significantly grow their digital presence and delivered a number of successful international medical device marketing campaigns, as well as working on internal and external communications. Michael joined Avacta Group in 2014, where he now leads the communications function.