Lhasa Limited receives second Queen’s Award for Enterprise as it unveils new CEO

Dr Chris Barber to take the helm in JuneLhasa Limited, an educational charity which creates state-of-the-art in silico prediction and database systems for use in metabolism, toxicology and related sciences, has been awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for the second year running.

News of the award for Innovation, in recognition of Lhasa’s development of the statistical-based software, Sarah Nexus, comes as the organisation announces the appointment of a new CEO.

Dr Chris Barber, the current Director of Science at Lhasa, will take over from Dave Watson as CEO on June 13th. Mr Watson, who has been CEO since 2005, announced his retirement in January this year.


Dr Barber, who joined Lhasa in 2011, previously spent 20 years as a medicinal chemist at Pfizer, leading teams that identified clinical candidates across a range of diseases. In his time with Lhasa he has used this experience to help further develop Lhasa’s software to ensure it provides scientifically rigorous, trusted and transparent information to support efficient decision making within the pharmaceutical sector. He has also played a lead role in the development of Sarah Nexus.


Speaking about the Queen’s Award and his new role Dr Barber said: “These awards are approved by Her Majesty The Queen and are the UK’s highest accolade for business success and innovation and we are naturally thrilled to have received this honour and recognition of our work for the second year running. Sarah Nexus is a statistical-based software that provides fast and accurate predictions of mutagenicity in an inexpensive way, identifying potentially toxic chemicals and therefore helping pharmaceutical companies in bringing drugs to market more quickly. It has proved invaluable in the field since its launch in 2013.


“From a personal perspective I am delighted to be stepping into the role of CEO of Lhasa Limited at such an exciting time for the organisation. I am fortunate to work alongside some truly talented people and have the opportunity to meet and collaborate with many world-leading scientists. I’m proud of the valuable work we do here and the software we bring to market – something which has been reflected with two Queen’s Awards for Enterprise.”


Created in-house and released in 2013, Sarah Nexus, along with Derek Nexus which received the Queen’s Award in 2016, is widely used by the pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic and related industries. Sarah Nexus allows scientists to rapidly assess the potential mutagenicity of chemical compounds to aid decisions about their compounds, shortening development cycles, reducing the need for animal testing, and leading to the earlier market availability of safe, potentially life enhancing new chemical entities and drugs.


Founded in 1983 as a not-for-profit organisation and educational charity to promote the use of computer-aided reasoning in scientific software for the life science industries, Lhasa was initially based within the Chemistry department at the University of Leeds and employed only a handful of scientists. Today Lhasa is a truly global organisation employing more than 140 people, with the majority based at its Yorkshire head office at Granary Wharf in Leeds city centre, as well as at offices in Newcastle, Poland and the USA.


Lhasa’s investment in collaborative research and development has resulted in an impressive and growing software portfolio that offers expert assistance to scientific researchers, enabling them to make more informed decisions about new chemical compounds. The success of the current software portfolio combined with the recent launch of two innovative software systems with more in the pipeline, means that Lhasa is always looking for highly motivated Yorkshire based software developers and scientists to bring fresh ideas to this exciting field.

The Queen’s Award for Enterprise will be formally presented by the Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, at Lhasa’s offices in Leeds later this year and representatives of Lhasa have also been invited to a special reception at Buckingham Palace.

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