London, UK, September 4th, 2018: LifeArc, one of the UK’s leading medical research charities, is delighted to announce the appointment of Melanie Lee, PhD, CBE as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective 1st November 2018. Dave Tapolczay, the present CEO, will be retiring from his position next month after 11 years’ service.1 Melanie brings to LifeArc a wealth of leadership experience from the biopharmaceutical industry and the medical research charity sector. Her previous role as Chief Scientific Officer of BTG plc followed senior research leadership positions at Glaxo/GlaxoWellcome, Celltech plc / UCB; Non-Executive Director roles at H. Lundbeck A/S and BTG plc and currently at Sanofi, CEO roles at Syntaxin Ltd and NightstaRx Ltd and Chair and Deputy Chair Trustee appointments at Cancer Research Technology and Cancer Research UK respectively.


Explaining her reasons for accepting the CEO role Melanie said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to join a unique charity that can create life-changing therapeutics. The innovative scientific research supported by LifeArc encompasses numerous life science sectors and has the potential to deliver great science, innovative medicines and new diagnostics to patients in need; it’s this potential that really motivates me. I am looking forward to the prospect of leading this vibrant research charity through the next phase of its development.”


Melanie’s appointment has been made at a time of great opportunity for LifeArc. The charity, which evolved from Medical Research Council Technology (MRCT) in 2017, has benefitted from a significant royalty stream arising from sales of Keytruda® (pembrolizumab).2

The income stream generated by Keytruda (pembrolizumab) and other projects has transformed LifeArc’s ability to fund and invest in innovative medical research and has already resulted in the creation of a dedicated Seed Fund and of a Philanthropic Fund providing rare disease research grant funding.

Commenting on the announcement, Dr John Stageman, OBE, LifeArc’s Chair, said: “We conducted a detailed and lengthy search for our new CEO and my fellow Trustees and I are delighted that Melanie has decided to join us at this most exciting time in the organisation’s history. I believe that she possesses the ideal blend of business leadership plus strategic and scientific acumen to help us deliver a bright future for LifeArc. With the addition of Melanie’s unique professional experience to our already-established senior executive team, I am confident that LifeArc can continue to evolve by turning great science into greater patient benefit.”



Glenn Mursell
Communications at LifeArc
Tel: 02073912754

Notes to editors

About Melanie Lee

Melanie joins LifeArc from BTG where she has been the Chief Scientific Officer since 2014. She has a rich career history in research and development at Glaxo, GlaxoWellcome (various roles over ten years), Celltech plc (Executive Director of Research) and UCB (Executive Vice President, Research and Development). She has previously held CEO positions at Syntaxin Ltd and at NightstaRx Ltd. Melanie currently serves on the Board of Directors at Sanofi and Board of Trustees at the Dementia Research Institute and had Chair and Deputy Chair Trustee appointments at Cancer Research Technology and Cancer Research UK respectively.

Melanie is a recognised expert in her field, receiving a CBE for services to medical science in 2009. In academia, Melanie gained a PhD at the National Institute for Medical Research in London. As a molecular genetics postdoc, she worked first at Imperial College London on yeast and then at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Melanie is also a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences.

About LifeArc

LifeArc is a medical research charity with a 25-year legacy of helping scientists and organisations turn their research into treatments and diagnostics for patients. LifeArc is pioneering new ways to turn great science into greater patient impact. The charity brings together a network of partners to tackle specific diseases and directly funds academic and early stage research. So far, LifeArc’s work has helped to develop four drugs (Keytruda®, Actemra®, Tysabri® and Entyvio®) and a test for resistance to carbapenems.

  1. CEO Dave Tapolczay stepping down 5th April 2018
  2. Keytruda is a UK registered trademark of Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp. used in relation to marketing of its product pembrolizumab