As Vice President of the Discovery Biology department within Discovery Sciences, R&D at AstraZeneca, I lead a global team of scientists applying leading science and technology to create reagents, assays and disease models to discover new targets and medicines. In addition to expanding our target and drug discovery capabilities in-house, I am responsible for connecting with the right partners and collaborations to advance innovative early science programmes. A recent example is the creation of the Cambridge COVID-19 Test Centre in partnership with the University of Cambridge and GlaxoSmithKline for increasing the UK’s PCR-based diagnostic testing capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. A second example is the creation of the AstraZeneca strategy for functional genomics in which I have created a leading internal technology platform while collaborating with Cancer Research UK to create the Functional Genomics Centre at the Milner Institute in Cambridge, UK.

Previously, I led the Screening Sciences and Sample Management department, specialising in compound management, high throughput screening and lead optimisation biology. I am especially interested in applying laboratory automation and novel biology technologies to identify new molecules for drug discovery projects. With over two decades at GlaxoSmithKline in various roles prior to joining AstraZeneca in 2011, I have been a part of multiple international collaborations and external partnerships focusing on early scientific and R&D programmes.

Being actively involved with the research community, I am passionate about the creation of networking, educational and mentoring opportunities for scientists engaged in drug discovery research. I have served in many roles at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening including as a Board member, I have served as Chair of the European Laboratory Research and Innovation Group (ELRIG) from 2016 to 2020 and am an Industry Trustee of the British Pharmaceutical Society Council. I firmly believe that the best ideas happen through collaboration.

I am also a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for EU-OPENSCREEN, the Centre for Membrane Protein Receptor Research at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham, and The Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research (WCAIR) at the University of Dundee.

The most exciting aspect of my role in Discovery Sciences is bringing together deep technical expertise and cutting-edge specialist technologies from across the field to support the delivery of novel therapeutic targets to the early AstraZeneca pipeline.

Steve Rees VP, Discovery Biology, Discovery Sciences, R&D


VP, Discovery Biology, Discovery Sciences, R&D


Elected member of British Pharmacological Society Council


Member of Scientific Advisory Board for EU-OPENSCREEN


Appointed VP, Discovery Biology, Discovery Sciences, R&D

Featured publications

Impact of a five-dimensional framework on R&D productivity at AstraZeneca.

Morgan P, Brown DG, Lennard S, Rees S et al. Impact of a five-dimensional framework on R&D productivity at AstraZeneca. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2018;17(3):167-181. doi:10.1038/nrd.2017.244.

Towards a hit for every target.

Rees S, Gribbon P, Birmingham K, Janzen WP, Pairaudeau G. Towards a hit for every target. Nat Rev Drug Discov. 2016;15(1):1-2. doi:10.1038/nrd.2015.19

The promise of open innovation in drug discovery: an industry perspective.

Rees S. The promise of open innovation in drug discovery: an industry perspective. Future Med Chem. 2015;7(14):1835-1838. doi:10.4155/fmc.15.125