Institute for Applied Cancer Science

Leadership Team

Giulio Draetta, MD, PhD - Director

Prior to joining MD Anderson, Giulio Draetta, M.D., Ph.D., was Dana-Farber Presidential Scholar, chief research business development officer and deputy director of the Belfer Institute for Applied Cancer Science at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Draetta has held appointments at Pharmacia and Merck, as vice-president and as worldwide head of oncology drug discovery. He has served as an investigator at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany and at the European Institute of Oncology.  

During his time in academia, Draetta spearheaded fundamental research in the biology of the eukaryotic cell division cycle and of DNA damage induced checkpoints. His research led to the discovery of the first mammalian cyclin-dependent kinase and to the demonstration that cyclin-dependent kinases and cyclins physically interact and regulate multiple cell cycle transitions in eukaryotes.

Draetta also was co-founder and vice president of research for Mitotix, a biotechnology company, where he established programs in cancer, inflammation and infectious diseases that led to successful partnerships with several pharmaceutical companies. He led numerous drug discovery and development programs, targeting cyclin-dependent kinases and other mitotic kinases, developmental pathways (Notch, Hedgehog, WNT), receptor tyrosine kinases, AKT and PDK1 kinases, epigenetics and tumor metabolism, which led to two drug approvals in recent years. He recently co-founded Karyopharm, Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the development of selective inhibitors of nuclear export in Oncology and other disease indications.  

Draetta earned his medical and post-graduate degrees from the University of Naples Medical School, Italy.


Philip Jones, PhD - Head of Drug Discovery

Philip Jones, Ph.D., has more than a decade of drug discovery research experience from Merck Research Laboratories at three locations worldwide. During his career, Jones has led several of Merck’s oncology drug discovery programs, overseeing cross-functional project teams that have successfully delivered novel candidates into ongoing clinical trials. These include Merck’s PARP inhibitor, smoothened antagonist and histone deacetylase (HDAC) programs, as well as several undisclosed targets. Jones also was involved in the successful development of Raltegravir, the first-in-class HIV integrase inhibitor. He has extensive drug discovery experience across a broad range of target families and has coordinated research across the entire preclinical spectrum from target identification to lead optimization.

Jones received his Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, and completed his post-doctoral research in the laboratory of Professor P. Knochel at Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany.