Professor Ruth Roberts PhD, ATS, FBTS, ERT, FRSB, FRCPath

Professor Ruth Roberts

School of Biosciences
Chair in Drug Discovery

Contact details

+44 121 371 8113
+44 (0)121 414 4403
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Ruth began her academic career in the laboratory of T Michael Dexter at the CRC Patterson institute where her PhD studies contributed to defining the stem cell niche (Roberts et al., (1988) Nature 332: 376-378. 306).  She then conducted postdoctoral research at Cancer Research UK under Professors Karol Sikora and Bill Gullick.  In 1990, Ruth joined ICI CTL as a junior lab head progressing to be head of cancer biology in 1997.  In 2002, Ruth took a role as Director of Toxicology for Aventis in Paris then in 2004 she joined AstraZeneca as Director of Toxicology, progressing to Global Head of Regulatory Safety. Ruth left AstraZeneca in 2015 to cofound  ApconiX, a thriving small biotech company that provides integrated drug discovery and development toxicology together with ion channel expertise

With more than 140 publications in peer reviewed journals, Ruth is an established science professional bringing rigorous expert thinking to the interface between academia and industry. With greater than 20 years of drug discovery and development experience and is interested in developing and implementing new models to bring innovative drug projects forward, especially by reducing attrition attributable to safety and toxicity. Ruth is former president of the British Toxicology Society, current secretary to the Society of Toxicology (SOT) and former president of  EUROTOX. She was the recipient of the SOT Achievement award in 2002, the EUROTOX Bo Holmstedt Award in 2009 and was elected fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists in 2012. She recently received the SOT 2018 Founders Award SOT 2018 Founders Award for ‘outstanding leadership in fostering the role of toxicological sciences in safety decision-making’.

Ruth is driving initiatives in Drug Discovery and Development across campus to capitalize on the outstanding end-to-end capabilities including target biology, enabling medicinal chemistry, direct clinical trials access and clinical trials expertise. 


  • Ph.D. Chemistry, Molecular Oncology - University of Manchester, 1984-1987
  • BSc Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (first class) - University of Manchester, 1981-1984


Co-director and Co-founder, specialising in integrated toxicology and ion channel expertise
2015 - Present

Global Head of Regulatory Safety
2013 – 2015

Global Head of Toxicology Sciences
June 2004 - September 2013

Director of Toxicology
June 2002 - June 2004, Paris France

Senior Scientist
1990 - 2002 Manchester, UK

Postdoctoral Fellow
Cancer Research UK
January 1988 - June 1990, London, UK

Other activities

Memberships of professional societies:

Society of Toxicology

1.        Member 1998 - date

2.        Secretary (2016-2018)

3.        President of the Carcinogenesis Specialty Section (2005-2007)

4.        Member of the World Wide Web advisory committee (2000-2006)

5.       Membership committee chair (2008-2009)

6.        Global Strategy focus group chair (2008-2013)

7.        Awards Committee (2011-2013)

8.        Contemporary Concepts in Toxicology (2013-2014)

British Toxicology Society

1.       Member 1994 – date

2.      Member of executive committee (2002 – 2014)

3.       Elected fellow 2008 (FBTS)

4.       President 2010-2012


1.       Member of executive 2006 - date

2.       President 2012-2014

3.       Chair of the Scientific Programme Committee 2012-2013


Expert multidisciplinary toxicologist with > 130 publications in peer reviewed journals.


  • Liu, Z, Fang, H, Roberts, RA and Tong, W.  In vitro to in in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) for drug-induced liver injury: A genome wide analysis using a drug pair ranking (DPRank) method.  In preparation. (2016)
  • Roberts, RA The Collaboration Gene.  Royal Society of Chemistry blog (2016)
  • Wallace, H, Roberts, R, Corsini, E, Bonefeld-Jorgensen, E, Orhan, H, Mach, M, Weiser, T, Carvalho, F, Iscan, M, Tsatsakis, A Toxicology as an academic discipline in European Universities.  Toxicology Letters 254, (2016) 63.


  • Goh, J-Y, Weaver, R, Dixon, L, Platt, NJ and Roberts, RA.  Development and use of in vitro alternatives by the pharmaceutical industry 1980-2013.  Toxicology Research 4, (2015) 1297-1307.
  • Roberts, RA, Callander, R, Knight, R and Boobis, A.  Target organ profiles in toxicity studies supporting human dosing: does severity progress with longer duration of exposure? Regulatory Tox. Pharm., 73, (2015) 737-746.
  • Roberts R.A,  Aschner M., Calligaro D.,  Guilarte T.R., Hanig J. , Herr D.W, Hudzik, T.J., Jeromin, A., Kallman M.J. , Liachenko S., Lynch J.J. III, Miller D.B., Moser V.C. , O’Callaghan J.P. , Slikker W. Jr. , Paule, M.G.  Translational Biomarkers of Neurotoxicity: a HESI Perspective on the Way Forward.  Tox Sci., 148, (2015) 332-340.
  • Cunningham, S., Partridge, N and Roberts, RA. Quantifying the Pharmaceutical Industry’s Contribution to Published 3Rs Research 2002-2012.  Toxicology Research, 4, (2015) 311-316.
  • Eaton, L, Roberts, RA, Kimber, I, Dearman, J and Metryka, A.  Skin sensitization induced Langerhans’ cell mobilization: variable requirements for tumour necrosis factor-α.   Immunology 144, (2015) 39-48.


  • Robinson, R & Roberts, R.  Letter: What constitutes scientific justification for inclusion of recovery assessment in pre-clinical studies supporting first time in man (FTIM)?  Regulatory Tox. Pharm.  70, (2014)  572-573.   
  • Bojang, P., Anderton, M., Roberts R. and Ramos, K. De novo LINE-1 Retrotransposition in HepG2 Cells Preferentially Targets Gene Poor Regions of Chromosome 13.  Genomics.  104, (2014)  96-104. 
  • Horner, S, Robinson, S, Callander, R, Lees, D and Roberts R. Target organ profiles in toxicity studies supporting human dosing: An assessment of recovery and chronic dosing.  Reg Tox Pharm. 70,(2014) 270-285. 
  • Brooker, P, Fleetwood, Gm, Roberts RA and Sinnett-Smith, P. The use of second species in toxicology testing.  ATLA 42,(2014) 1-3.
  • Roberts, RA, Kavanagh, S, Mellor, H, Pollard, C, Robinson, S and Platz, SJ. Reducing Attrition in Drug Development: smart loading pre-clinical safety assessment.  Drug Discovery Today.  19,(2014) 341 – 347.
  • Kilgour, J and Roberts, RA. Pathophysiological Roles of Reactive Oxygen and Nitrogen Species.   Chapter 10 in ‘Systems Biology of Free Radicals and Antioxidants’   Vol 2.  Springer Verlag – Berlin. (2014)  In press at


  • Cove-Smith, L, Woodhouse, N, Hargreaves, A, Kirk, J, Smith, S, Price, S,  Galvin, M, Betts, C, Brocklehurst, S, Backenγ, A, Radford, J, Linton, K, Roberts, R,  Schmitt, M, Dive, C, Tugwood, J, Hockings, P and Mellor, H.  An integrated characterisation of the functional, structural, pathological and serological events associated with the development of chronic doxorubicin-induced cardiotoxicity in rat. Toxicological Sciences 140, (2013) 3-15.
  • Bojang, P, Anderton, M, Roberts, R and Ramos K. Reprogramming of the HepG2 genome by Long Interspersed Nuclear Element 1. Molecular Oncology.  7,(2013)  812-825
  • Horner, Ryan, Robinson, Callander, Stamp and Roberts .  Target organ toxicities in studies conducted to support first time in man dosing: an analysis across species and therapy areas.  Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 65,(2013)  334 -343.


  • Sadler, Bergholm, Powles-Glover and Roberts. Therodent hepatocarcinogenic response to phthalate plasticizers: basic biology and human extrapolation.  Chapter 17.2.  in ‘Handbook of Plasticizers, 2nd edition. (2012) Editor:  George Wypych.  ISBN 978-1-895198-50-8.
  • Priestley, C, Mellor, H, Duffy, P, Powell, H, Anderton M and Roberts, RA  Epigenetics – Relevance to Drug Safety
    Science.  Toxicology Research 1,(2012) 3-6.


  • Roberts, RA, Ren, J, Sausen, P, Wallis, R, vander Laan, J-W and Slikker, W .  What it means to be global. 
    Toxicology Sciences 127, (2011) 313-314
  • Mellor HR, Bell AR, Valentin JP, Roberts RA.Cardiotoxicity associated with targeting kinase pathways in cancer. Toxicol Sci. 120, (2011) 14-32.
  • Miller, JA, Trout, B, Sullivan, KA, Bialecki, R,  Roberts, RA, Tjalkens, RB.Low doses of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) cause inflammatory activation of glia in NF-kappaB reporter mice prior to loss of dopaminergic neurons.  J. Neurosci. Res. 89, (2011) 406-17.


  • Apoptosis in Toxicology, (2000) Edited by R. Roberts. London, Taylor & Francis.
  • Comprehensive Toxicology: Volume 14 Carcinogenesis (2010).  Edited by R Roberts.  Elsevier (release date June 2010) ISBN: 978-0-08-046868-6. 
  • Comprehensive Toxicology: Volume 14 Carcinogenesis 3rd Edition (2017).  Edited by R Roberts.  Elsevier (release date 2017)