Evotec expands Oxfordshire site and pays tribute to British chemist & Nobel prize winner


Drug discovery company Evotec SE is to expand its existing campus based at Milton Park in Abingdon.

The new fully-integrated, discovery and development centre will be named the Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Campus. Adding a new building, which will house up to 100 biologists by the end of the year, will bring together all the key functions for high-performance small molecule discovery and up to commercial development.

The Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Campus will co-locate in vitro pharmacology and protein sciences, structural biology, drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, computational, synthetic, and medicinal chemistry, formulation sciences, development chemistry and API manufacture.

Dorothy Crowfoot HodgkinDorothy Hodgkin (née Crowfoot) was born in Cairo in 1910. She became interested in chemistry and in crystals at about the age of 10, and was one of just two girls allowed to join the boys doing chemistry at school. She went on to Oxford and Somerville College where she decided to do research in X-ray crystallography. Having heard J.D. Bernal lecture on metals in Oxford, Dorothy Crowfoot went to Cambridge to work with him. The fact that around that time Bernal was turning towards sterols settled her course.
Somerville gave her a two-year research fellowship – one year at Cambridge and the second at Oxford. Crowfoot returned to Somerville and largely remained there for the remainder of her career. She started to collect money for an X-ray apparatus and continued the X-ray analysis of natural products with a research focus on sterols and other biologically interesting molecules, including insulin and penicillin.
In 1946, Dorothy took part in the meetings which led to the foundation of the International Union of Crystallography. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1947, a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences in 1956, and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Boston) in 1958. In 1964, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for solving the atomic structure of molecules such as penicillin and insulin, using X-ray crystallography. 

The co-location of these critical scientific functions enables better communication and rapid and inventive problem-solving at the interfaces of disciplines as well as accelerating the speed of iterative cycles in the drug discovery and development processes, turning the site into a fully integrated R&D centre.

Evotec’s campus at Milton Park already benefits from the strong relationships and proximity with the Diamond Light Source at Harwell, making it a centre of excellence in structure-based drug design. The location also facilitates excellent partnership opportunities in the Oxford and UK-wide academic and biotech scene.

With more than 600 employees on site, Evotec’s Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Campus now joins Evotec’s sites in Toulouse and Verona as one of three fully integrated powerhouses of capacity, capabilities and know-how in integrated R&D for the benefit of its partners.

Dr Craig Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer of Evotec, said: “Successful, fully-integrated drug discovery and development requires know-how and expertise as well as cutting-edge technologies and capabilities. We are delighted to extend our breadth of fully-integrated R&D sites with this extension to our capabilities at our Abingdon site, which we are proud to name after the X-ray crystallography technology leader and Nobel laureate: Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Campus.”

Evotec BioSystems GmbH was founded in Hamburg, Germany in 1993. Among the founders were Nobel Laureate Professor Manfred Eigen, Dr Karsten Henco, Dr Ulrich Aldag, Dr Freimut Leidenberger, Dr Heinrich Schulte, Professor Rudolf Rigler and Dr Charles Weissmann. In 2000 the company merged with Oxford University bio-tech spin out Oxford Asymmetry to form Evotec OAI AG, and become a leader in the discovery and development of novel small molecule drugs.