Chief Executive and Executive Board

Harpal Kumar, Chief Executive

Sir Harpal S. Kumar, MA MEng MBA DSc (Hon)

Chief Executive Officer 

Harpal gained a Masters in Chemical Engineering from the University of Cambridge and an MBA as a Baker Scholar from Harvard Business School.  He has been awarded Honorary Doctorates from the University of Manchester and the University of Newcastle.  He was knighted in the 2016 New Years Honours List for services to cancer research.

After a brief period working as a research scientist with the UK Atomic Energy Authority, Harpal worked for four years in the London office of McKinsey and Co., specialising in healthcare.  He then became CEO of The Papworth Trust, which focuses on pioneering rehabilitation services for people with acquired and congenital disabilities.

Harpal left Papworth in 1997 to become founding CEO of Nexan Group, a venture capital-backed medical device company, creating and marketing novel cardio-respiratory monitoring technologies to reduce premature mortality in patients with congestive heart failure.

Harpal joined Cancer Research Technology (CRT, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK) as Chief Executive in October 2002.  In addition to his role with CRT, he became Chief Operating Officer of Cancer Research UK in July 2004, before becoming Chief Executive in April 2007.

Harpal was Chair of the Taskforce and author of “Achieving World-Class Cancer Outcomes: A Strategy for England 2015-2020”, published in summer 2015. He is a Trustee of The Francis Crick Institute in London. He is a member of the National Cancer Transformation Board and chairs the National Cancer Advisory Group. 


Mark Allen BSc MSc MCIPD

Executive Director, Human Resources

Mark was appointed Executive Director, Human Resources in June 2016. He is responsible for the overall people agenda, ensuring that the Charity attracts, retains and develops great talent and is organised to deliver its mission.

Mark has built his Human Resources career in the private sector, predominantly within multi-national consumer goods organisations. Mark has worked with Sears, Yardley Lentheric, Grand Metropolitan, Campbell Soup Company, Constellation Brands, Associated British Foods and most recently Britvic PLC.

Mark has also held significant leadership roles outside of Human Resources in supply chain, commercial, change management/M&A and has worked internationally.


Ed Aspel

Executive Director, Fundraising and Marketing

Ed joined Cancer Research in December 2012 and has worked within the Fundraising Innovation and Strategic Marketing teams. In 2014, he was appointed Director of our Public and Patient Engagement Department which manages the way we connect with patients and their loved ones, involving them more closely in the work we do and providing information which empowers individuals to reduce their risk of developing cancer and to improve their chances of earlier diagnosis.

Prior to joining CRUK, Ed worked at the Government’s Central Office of Information as a Managing Consultant progressing to Group Strategy Director, and at hospitality group Whitbread as Group Marketing Director.

In 2015, Ed was appointed Executive Director of Fundraising and Marketing and is now responsible for the brand, marketing and mass fundraising which feeds into our overall revenue generation enabling the Charity to reach its ambitious goals.  


Iain Foulkes, PhD

Executive Director, Research & Innovation / CEO of Cancer Research Technology

Iain was appointed to the Board in 2009 and is responsible for our research strategy and its implementation. He oversees CRUK's portfolio of research across discovery science, translational research, clinical and population research. This research portfolio includes our international Grand Challenges, our clinical trial portfolio and oversight of our Institutes and Centres.

As CEO of Cancer Research Technology he is also responsible for ensuring our research is developed and commercialised, often in partnership with biotech and pharmaceutical companies to ensure the outputs of research reach patients as rapidly and effectively as possible.

Iain began his career as a research scientist, completing his PhD at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute, before becoming a science writer and medical journalist and joining Cancer Research UK. 


Nick Gaynor

Executive Director, Philanthropic Partnerships & Development

Nick was appointed Executive Director Philanthropic & Partnerships in October 2015. Working with co-Executive Director Frances Milner, Nick is responsible for developing and leading the high value fundraising strategy, driving income growth through individual relationships and partnerships for Cancer Research UK.

Prior to joining CRUK Nick had a 30 year career as an investment banker, both in London and in the US. He worked at, amongst other organisations, Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank, and was responsible for leading teams focused on high value transactions with major corporates, and the leading global private equity funds. Most recently he led Deutsche Real Estate Asset Management’s fund raising efforts in Europe.

In addition to his work with CRUK Nick maintains business interests in the UK and the US. 


Frances Milner

Executive Director, Philanthropic Partnerships & Development

Frances is the Executive Director of Philanthropic & Partnerships, working with co-Executive Director Nick Gaynor, Frances is responsible for developing and leading the high value fundraising strategy, driving income growth through individual relationships and partnerships for Cancer Research UK.

Following a career in banking, Frances joined the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in the mid 90s as a Fundraising Assistant. She subsequently held a number of roles within Volunteer Fundraising and following the merger in 2002 she was responsible for developing the charity’s Innovation team.

Frances left Cancer Research UK in 2007 to take up the post of Fundraising Director at Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, developing their fundraising team and leading their capital campaign “The Joy of Living” to fund the expansion of the Maggie’s Centres network.

She returned to Cancer Research UK in 2010, as the Supporter Led Fundraising Director, and has subsequently led the Events team, Volunteer Fundraising, High Value Supporter Partnerships, Sports and Volunteering. 


Nick Grant

Executive Director, International Partnerships

Nick is responsible for building the international network of the Charity, ensuring that it works effectively with partners around the world.  He has previously held the role of Interim Executive Director of Policy & Information.

Prior to this, he was Director of Strategy, working with teams across the Charity to develop strategies in line with the organisation’s objectives. This included the development of fundraising, research and other core purpose strategies, notably the development of the organisation’s new research strategy, which was launched in April 2014.

Nick joined Cancer Research UK in 2010. He previously spent 10 years as a management consultant at The Boston Consulting Group, Braxton Associates and Deloitte where he supported clients in the pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors on strategy, organisation and change projects. He has a Masters in Manufacturing Engineering from the University of Cambridge and an MBA with Distinction from INSEAD business school.


Professor Peter Johnson, CBE MA MD FRCP

Chief Clinician

Peter is Chief Clinician for Cancer Research UK. He has responsibility for the strategy and shape of the Charity’s clinical activities, both in clinical research and in the wider context of cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

Peter is Professor of Medical Oncology at the University of Southampton. His main research interests are in immunology, particularly the use of novel antibody treatments, and in lymphoma, where he is responsible for several national and international trials. He was Chair of the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Lymphoma Clinical Studies Group from 2005-2011.


Ian Kenyon, BSc ACA

Chief Financial Officer and Executive Director, Corporate Resources

Ian joined Cancer Research UK as CFO in 2013.  He is responsible for the delivery of effective support and governance through the teams in Finance, Information Technology Services, Property, Procurement and also oversees programme management for many of the major projects across the organisation.  

Ian qualified as a chartered accountant with Price Waterhouse before moving into commercial finance roles in industry.  He has spent nearly 20 years in the retail sector working as a senior Finance Director at Kingfisher, Sainsbury’s, Carpetright, Carphone Warehouse and HMV.Externally Ian is Treasurer of Guildford Cathedral.


Professor Karen Vousden CBE FRS FRSE FMedSci 

Chief Scientist

Karen was appointed as Chief Scientist of Cancer Research UK in July 2016. She also continues to lead her research group, which is focused on understanding the regulation and functions of the p53 tumour suppressor protein, with an increasing emphasis on how changes in metabolism can influence cancer development. Her work has led to several possible clinical applications, including the development of small molecule activators of p53 that prevent the proteolytic degradation of the protein, and the potential of amino acid limited diets to augment standard chemotherapeutic approaches to treatment. Her research group is currently at the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow, but will move to the Francis Crick Institute in London early in 2017.

Karen received her Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of London, followed by postdoctoral fellowships with Chris Marshall at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and Douglas Lowy at the National Cancer Institute in the USA. She then became head of the Human Papillomavirus group at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in London before moving back to the NCI in 1995, where she was Director of the Molecular Virology and Carcinogenesis Section at the ABL-Basic Research programme and then Chief of the Regulation of Cell Growth Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute. She returned to the UK to become Director of the CRUK Beatson Institute in 2002.


Sarah Woolnough BSc MSc

Executive Director, Policy and Information

Sarah Woolnough is Executive Director of Policy and Information at Cancer Research UK, with responsibility for policy development, public affairs, campaigning and the Charity’s information functions.

Sarah is responsible for the Charity’s policy development across a wide range of public policy issues – from medical research to cancer services policy. Sarah also leads public affairs and campaigning functions that have successfully campaigned for improvements to radiotherapy treatments and tobacco control measures including a ban on shop displays of cigarettes among other things.

Sarah’s information responsibilities span CancerHelp UK, Cancer Research UK’s dedicated patient website, statistical information, and a range of information campaigns on the prevention and early diagnosis of cancer.

In 2010 Sarah was seconded to the Department of Health to develop the Government’s new cancer strategy – Improving Cancer Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer – which sets out an ambitious agenda to make our cancer services world class and commits England to saving an additional 5000 lives per year from cancer by 2015.

Sarah sits on a number of national working groups and is a trustee of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), Action on Smoking and Health and health charity Bliss.

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