Susan Wyllie awarded C.A. Wright Memorial Medal

Published on 17 April 2023

Dr Susan Wyllie has been awarded the prestigious C.A. Wright Memorial Medal from the British Society for Parasitology in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the discipline.

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From left: Professor Colin Sutherland, BSP President, Dr Susan Wyllie with her CA Wright medal and Professor Jo Hamilton, BSP Vice President.

Susan is a Principal Investigator and head of the Mode of Action Group in the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research in the School of Life Sciences, with more than twenty years of experience studying kinetoplastid biology. Her studies have predominantly focused on deciphering drug mechanism(s) of action and mechanisms of drug resistance – in particular in Leishmania spp, the causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis.

Susan first came to Dundee as a senior research associate and part-time lecturer in the lab of Professor Alan Fairlamb to study drug mechanisms of action in Leishmania. During their 14-year collaboration, Susan helped demonstrate the potential of the drug fexinidazole for treatment of visceral leishmaniasis. As a direct result of this work, a phase II clinical trial for the use of fexinidazole against visceral leishmaniasis was carried out in Sudan by the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, DNDi.

In 2015, Susan established the Mode of Action group focused on determining the mechanism(s) of action and specific molecular target(s) of novel compounds. Since the group has been established, the molecular targets and/or modes of action of >40 anti-parasitic compounds have been determined, including four clinical drug candidates. The information the group provides has proved transformative to drug discovery programs, not only in Dundee but also in the wider scientific community.

In 2017, Susan’s team was awarded GlaxoSmithKline’s Annual Scientific Termination of Projects (STOP) Award.  This is awarded for “Impact and value of science-led decisions in allowing reinvestment of valuable resources into transformative medicines”. 

David Horn said “Congratulations to Susan on this well-deserved award, and particularly for the truly transformative target identification work she and her team have delivered. Target identification yields important chemical biology insights, and Susan’s work has had a huge impact on how anti-infective drug discovery projects are progressed, and also on key decisions to register compounds for clinical trials.”

Susan said “I am absolutely delighted to have been awarded this years’ CA Wright Memorial medal by the British Society for Parasitology. Science is a collaborative endeavour, so I consider this as an award for my entire group. Huge thanks to all lab members (past and present) and extra special thanks to my mentors, friends and collaborators for their support.”

The medal was presented to Susan by Professor Colin Sutherland, BSP President and Professor Jo Hamilton, BSP Vice President at the BSP Spring Meeting on the 13 April 2023 at the University of Edinburgh.

The C.A. Wright Memorial Medal is awarded annually to recognise outstanding contribution to the discipline of parasitology; it was established in memory of Chris Wright, Director of the Experimental Taxonomy Unit at the Natural History Museum in London, and the Society's President from 1982-1983. It is the highest honour that the BSP can bestow upon their international Society's members.

Susan now joins other colleagues in Dundee who have been past recipients of the medal: Professor Alan Fairlamb in 1996, Professor Mike Ferguson in 2006, Professor Mark Field in 2010 and Professor David Horn in 2016.


Story category Awards and accolades