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Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Remembering Professor Chris Abell

We were very sorry to hear the news of Professor Chris Abell’s sudden death at the end of October. Here we remember his contribution to cystic fibrosis (CF) research.

Professor Chris Abell, FRS, was Professor of Biological Chemistry and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Cambridge. Along with colleagues at the University of Cambridge Professor Abell pioneered a technique of designing new drugs known as ‘fragment-based drug design’. After successfully applying this approach to design new cancer drugs, including setting up a a biotech company to do this, he began to apply his expertise in the field of cystic fibrosis.

Professor Abell worked alongside Professor Andres Floto and Professor Sir Tom Blundell to apply fragment-based design techniques to develop new antibiotics for treating the devastating antimicrobial-resistant CF lung infections Mycobacterium abscessus (one of the NTM group of infections) and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. He was a co-principal investigator in our Strategic Research Centre grant for developing new treatments for M. abscessus and also a co-principal investigator on the UK CF Innovation Hub, a partnership co-funded by the Trust and the University of Cambridge to tackle lung health in cystic fibrosis.

“We were so shocked to hear the news of Chris’ death and we’d like to extend our sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues at the University. He was a lovely man to work with and his death is a major loss to science. He leaves a terrific legacy of an innovative approach to tackle a critical area of CF health” said Dr Lucy Allen, Director of Research at the Trust.

You can read more about Professor Abell’s achievements on the University of Cambridge website.