Dr Dick has 20 years of experience in mycobacteriology, antibacterial drug discovery and R&D program management. His research focuses on Non-Tuberculous Mycobacteria (NTM) infections and Tuberculosis (TB). Since March 2017 he is Director of Antimicrobial Drug Discovery and Associate Professor at the Public Health Research Institute (PHRI) and the Department of Medicine, New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University. He holds an appointment as Visiting Professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, National University of Singapore. Prior to his current positions at PHRI he served 5 years as Director of BSL3 Core Facility and Associate Professor at National University of Singapore where he led the TB drug discovery theme of the University’s TB program which he co-founded in 2014. Before he joined the National University Dr Dick worked for eight years in the pharmaceutical industry where he established and led the TB disease area at the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, Singapore. He managed the discovery portfolio from target identification to preclinical development, and represented the industry partner in the Gates- and Wellcome-funded Grand Challenges in Global Health 11 consortium. To facilitate translational research he created a joint clinical research operation between Novartis, the Eijkman Institute and Hasanuddin University in Indonesia. Dr Dick completed his post-doctoral fellowship at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore, where he became principal investigator heading the Mycobacterium Biology Laboratory. He studied biochemistry, genetics and microbiology at the University of Heidelberg where he obtained his PhD in molecular bacteriology.
Research and development accomplishments
Dr Dick’s mycobacteriology research as principal investigator at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (1996-2003) made major contributions to our understanding of the pathophysiology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. His discovery that the pathogen harbours a genetic dormancy program had wide implications for TB drug discovery as well as vaccine development and diagnosis. Joining Novartis to establish the company’s TB disease area (2003-2011), Dr Dick was one of the first in the field to realize the limitations of target based biochemical screening for de novo antibacterial drug discovery and implemented the concept of whole cell screens followed by target deconvolution to deliver chemically validated targets. His work in industry resulted in the generation of several development compounds. Back in academia at the National University of Singapore (2011) he pioneered new screening strategies based on target-based whole cell assays and identified the first whole cell active lead against caseinolytic protease. To address mycobacterial resistance and persistence he demonstrated membrane integrity as a novel drugable chemotherapeutic intervention level. To provide the basis for a rational optimization of clinically used antimycobacterials he identified novel targets of pyrazinamide and bedaquiline. At PHRI (since 2017) Dr Dick has initiated several drug discovery projects against M. abscessus and M. avium delivering new leads for NTM drug discovery.