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The Team

Prof Richard Farndale

co-founder and CEO


Richard studied, among other things, Natural Sciences at Fitzwilliam College Cambridge, graduating in 1972. He then joined a high tech company, Image Analysing Computers Ltd, working in their life science laboratory on pattern recognition methodology being developed for cervical cancer screening and for leukocyte differential counting. In the latter project, Richard first encountered blood platelets that later became a major research interest, but in this setting, their unwelcome presence confounded the microscopic analysis of stained leukocytes.

He joined Strangeways Research Laboratory (SRL) as a Research Assistant in 1978, undertaking doctoral studies on connective tissue with Dr Sylvia Fitton Jackson. The group worked on the application of a commercial medical device to difficult bone fractures such as non-unions, and aimed to elucidate mechanisms by which externally applied electromagnetic fields might modify connective tissue cell behaviour. Here, Richard first worked on collagen metabolism, stimulating a career long interest in collagens, bone, cartilage and other connective tissues. SRL, then an independent laboratory, was internationally prominent; staff members had included Francis Crick, Michael Abercrombie and Honor Fell.

Strangeways Research Laboratory

After completing his PhD (1984) Richard moved to the Department of Biochemistry, University of Cambridge, to learn cell signalling in the laboratory of Rick Martin. He collaborated with Michael Barnes, a collagen biochemist with a special interest in platelets and thrombosis, while Michael was at SRL, and later Richard started his own research group with the support of the then Head, Richard Perham, with funding from MRC. Michael Barnes joined him in 1994, and they jointly ran a platelet and collagen group, developing their interest in synthetic collagen peptides that culminated in the invention of Collagen-Related Peptide (CRP) that is a potent activator of platelets, and the ligand for integrin alpha2beta1, GFOGER.

Subsequently, Richard expanded this interest to develop the Collagen Toolkits, libraries of synthetic peptides designed to permit the mapping of any collagen-binding protein onto either collagen II or collagen III. Richard was appointed to a personal Chair (Professor of Matrix Biochemistry) in 2008.

The technology has formed the basis for many collaborative studies, allowing ligands for many collagen receptors and ECM proteins to be identified. These materials are the central products of Triple Helical Peptides Ltd. .

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Dr Arkadiusz Bonna

co-founder and CTO


Arkadiusz (Arek) was born in Gdańsk, the birthplace of Johann Hevelius, Daniel Fahrenheit, Arthur Schopenhauer, Richard Abegg, and Alfred Stock.

Arkadiusz is a graduate of "Gdańska Szkoła Peptydów" (The Gdańsk' Peptide School) - an informal name for the groups from the Gdańsk University of Technology and the University of Gdańsk, that specialise in peptide chemistry and were a national-leading centre in this field for years.
History of Gdansk Peptide School by Professor Zbigniew Grzonka.

Arkadiusz obtained his MSc and PhD in Chemistry from the University of Gdansk in 1999 and 2009, both under the supervision of Professor Zbigniew Maćkiewicz.

He completed his postdoctoral studies in Inorganic Biochemistry in the world-leading group of Professor Wojciech Bal at the Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics of the Polish Academy of Sciences (IBB PAS) in Warsaw, having a four-year stipend from the Foundation for Polish Science. He served as a Lecturer, Supervisor, Assistant Professor and Head of the Peptide Synthesis Laboratory.

Next, in 2015, he decided to focus on what was, for him, a new topic: collagen peptides. He joined the world-leading group of Professor Richard Farndale from the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Cambridge as a Senior Research Associate /Research Assistant Professor/. The British Heart Foundation /BHF/ funded that position and the project.

At the end of 2018, Arek started work for the collagen-based medical device industry and supported technology transfer from laboratory to industrial scale, optimising production processes, quality control, implementation and maintenance of the quality management system for medical devices. His team successfully implemented and maintained ISO 13485 for medical devices for production of class III medical device with certification from BSI.

He has held further positions in recent years: Lead Peptide Chemist, Head of the Research Labs, and Director of Research and Development. Additionally, he is a qualified, certified and active Auditor of ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 for medical devices.

Arek focuses on applying collagen-related peptides and collagen ligands collection in basic scientific research and medicine, especially in medical device development, drug development, treating diseases, and early disease detection.

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Paul Whitmell FCA BSc

company secretary


Paul is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants who has specialised in helping Biotech Start-ups.
Paul was in public practice for over 25 years and has experience in taxation, charities, self-employed and limited companies.
Although he sold his accountancy practice in 2021 he continues to offer services to a number of charities and local companies where he can add value.
Paul was actively involved in setting up and the subsequent sale of Iontas to Fair Journey in 2019 and has considerable experience in the Biotech industry.
Paul has many interests outside of work, including being Chairman of Sawston Youth Group and a Trustee of Sawston Childcare Nursery.
Paul assisted in setting up Triple Helical Peptides, and now acts as our Company Secretary.

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Dr Joanna-Marie Dear

development manager


Joanna-Marie (Jo) Dear began her academic career in 2003 with her Biochemistry degree from the University of Liverpool. As an undergraduate, she collaborated with the veterinary labs and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) on a project focussing on metalloproteinases in snake venoms. This led on to a PhD within LSTM; isolating haemorrhagic venom metalloproteinases and characterizing their effects on blood coagulation and platelets.

www.lstmed.ac.uk/dr-joanna-marie-dear

Immediately following her PhD, she moved to the University of Leeds to begin her first post-doctoral position. Here she worked on the plasma and cellular proteins which are incorporated into, and which influence the structure of fibrin clots, and received a Young Investigators Award from the International Society of Fibrinogen Research in 2006. While in Leeds, Jo was introduced to Professor Richard Farndale, and later that year moved to the Farndale Laboratory in Cambridge to pursue her career in cardiovascular biochemistry.

At Cambridge, Jo's attention turned back to metalloproteinases; in particular the collagenase and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-13. Throughout her 12 years within the Farndale Laboratory, Jo worked on several projects centred around collagen proteolysis, MMP-13 and their combined influence on platelet behaviour and thrombosis. These projects also involved the extensive use of the Collagen Ligand Collection (formerly known as Collagen Toolkits) and other collagen-related peptides. It was also during this time that her interest in science communication and public engagement grew. She began to write for and edit the University of Cambridge science magazine BlueSci, became a Voice of Young Science (VoYS) and presented her research at the Houses of Parliament for SET for BRITAIN. She also obtained her phlebotomist qualification.

In 2019, after leaving the Farndale Laboratory, Jo worked for a medical device company as a Senior Scientist. Here she was engaged in both scientific research and product development, working on specific projects both in house and for external clients and overseeing maintenance and production procedures in line with ISO 13485.

In 2021 Jo moved back to the University of Cambridge - this time to the Harper Laboratory in the Department of Pathology where she currently works on several projects including platelet drug target discovery.

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