Professor Paul Workman is Deputy Chief Executive and Head of Cancer Therapeutics at The Institute of Cancer Research, London. He is a world leader in the discovery and development of molecularly targeted cancer drugs and is a passionate advocate of personalised cancer therapy.
A molecular pharmacologist and chemical biologist, Paul has been responsible for the discovery of a large number of innovative new molecular cancer therapeutic drugs. With his extensive experience in the academic, biotechnology and large pharma sectors, Paul writes and speaks regularly on his ideas for bridging the innovation gap by extending the translational capability of non-profit groups to encompass high quality early stage discovery and development, as exemplified at The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR).
Paul is currently Deputy Chief Executive of the ICR, Director of the ICR’s Cancer Research UK Cancer Therapeutics Unit in Sutton, UK, which is the largest non-profit cancer drug discovery group worldwide. He is also Head of ICR’s Division of Cancer Therapeutics and Harrap Professor of Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
Paul was born in Workington, West Cumbria in 1952. He obtained his BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from Leicester University (1973) and his PhD in Cancer Pharmacology from Leeds University (1977), funded by the Yorkshire Cancer Research Campaign. He then moved to Cambridge to become a postdoctoral fellow and scientific staff member of the MRC Clinical Oncology Unit, MRC Centre, Cambridge University (1976-1990) where he established and led the cancer pharmacology group.
Following a period as UICC Visiting Fellow at Stanford University and SRI International, California (1989), Paul was appointed as Cancer Research Campaign Professor and Director of Laboratory Research in the Department of Medical Oncology, Beatson Laboratories, Glasgow University (1990-1993).
Paul then gained experience in the pharmaceutical industry. From 1993-1997 Paul was Head of the Cancer Research Bioscience Section at AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Alderley Park, UK where he also initiated and led the strategic alliance with Sugen. From there he moved to take up his current post at ICR.
Honours and awards include: European School of Oncology Award for Excellence in Oncology Research (1985); Cancer Research Campaign/Cancer Research UK Life Fellowship (1991); Fellowship of the Institute of Biology (1997); Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (2002); Bruce Cain Award of the New Zealand Cancer Society (2003 and 2011); Dutch New Drug Development Office Award for Cancer Drug Development (2006); DSc (Hon) Leicester University (2009); National Cancer Research Institute/British Association for Cancer Research Tom Connors Award Lecture (2009); Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2010); Royal Society of Chemistry George and Christine Sosnovsky Award for Cancer Therapy (2010); AACR Team Science Award (Team Leader 2012) and Royal Society of Chemistry World Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2012).
Paul has been a Scientific Founder of two successful biotechnology companies: Chroma Therapeutics and Piramed Pharma, the latter subsequently acquired by Roche. He has also advised a number of other biotech and pharmaceutical companies and non-profit groups. Paul is Deputy Editor of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, Reviews Editor of Cancer Cell and serves on the editorial boards of many other journals.
Paul has been responsible for a number of innovative new cancer drugs entering the clinic, including the EGFR inhibitor gefitinib (Iressa), the HSP90 molecular chaperone inhibitor NYP-AUY922 and the PI3 kinase inhibitor GDC-0941. His Cancer Therapeutics Unit has been responsible for the discovery of sixteen drug development candidates over the last six years, with six agents entering Phase I clinical trial over a recent two year period. Paul’s particular research interests are in molecular chaperones and the stress response, oncogenic kinases including PI3 kinase, molecular cancer therapeutics, and ‘drugging the cancer genome.’ He originated the concept of the Pharmacological Audit Trail, now widely used in biomarker-led early clinical trials. He has published around 470 journal articles, edited several books and journal issues, and lectured widely on cancer drugs.