Cancer Research UK, a company limited by guarantee and a registered charity, is governed by a Council of Trustees, the Charity’s board of directors.
Council’s role is to set the Charity’s strategic direction, monitor the delivery of the Charity’s objectives, uphold its values and governance and guide, advise and support the Chief Executive, who leads the Senior Management Team towards achieving the Charity’s vision and purpose.
The Board of Council of Trustees is led by the Chairman, Mr Michael Pragnell.
If you are interested in becoming a Trustee, go to jobs and careers to read more about the role.
Michael Pragnell MA MBA (Chairman)
Appointed 2010. Michael Pragnell was appointed a Trustee in March 2010 and Chairman in November 2010. He is a member of all Council Committees, except the Audit Committee, which he attends at the invitation of the committee chairman, and is a Director of Cancer Research Technology.
Michael is a non-executive director of VINCI SA and a member of the board of INSEAD. He was the founder Chief Executive Officer of Syngenta AG, based in Switzerland from its public listing in 2000 until his retirement at the end of 2007; he was a member of the Board and Chairman of the Executive Committee.
He led the creation of Syngenta to become world leader in crop protection following the merger of the agrochemicals and plant bio-science businesses of AstraZeneca and Novartis. Michael was previously an Executive Director of AstraZeneca plc having joined Zeneca plc in 1995. He was a member of the supervisory board of the Anglo-Dutch joint-venture Advanta BV and a non-executive Director of David S Smith plc from 1996 to 2000.
From1975 to 1995 he worked for Courtaulds plc and was appointed to the Board as CEO Courtaulds Coatings in 1990; he became Chief Financial Officer in 1992. Michael was born in 1946 and is married with two sons. He has a degree in Modern Languages from Oxford University and an MBA from INSEAD.
Wendy Becker, BA MBA (Deputy Chairman)
Appointed in 2011, Wendy was CEO of Jack Wills Limited from 2013 to 2015. She was named one of the top 50 women to watch in International Business by the Financial Times in 2009.
She has an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Starting her career at Procter & Gamble, she then became a partner at McKinsey, followed by a career in consumer technology. Wendy joined Carphone Warehouse in 2008 where she built the TalkTalk Group. She then moved to Vodafone as Group Chief Marketing Officer helping to build the company’s leading international position. Wendy is a non-executive Director of Whitbread plc and a Trustee of the Prince's Trust and the English National Ballet.
Professor Doctor Anton Berns PHD
Appointed in 2010. Professor Doctor Anton Berns studied biochemistry at the University of Nijmegen receiving his Masters degree in 1969 (cum laude) and his PhD in 1972.
He did his postdoctoral training in the group of Rudolf Jaenisch at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California, where he studied the role of retroviruses in causing lymphomas in mice. In 1976 he returned to the University of Nijmegen where he became junior staff member. In 1985 he was appointed as staff scientist at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and in 1986 he became head of the Division of Molecular Genetics of the Institute. He is senior staff member at the institute and director of the Skolkovo Center for Stem Cell Research in Moscow. He continues to run his research group at The Netherlands Cancer Institute. Here his group did pioneering work to generate and utilise genetically modified mice as a tool to search for new cancer genes. Currently, his group focuses on the development and use of advanced mouse models for cancer.
From 1992 to 1994 Professor Berns served as VP of Research of one of the leading gene therapy companies in the US. He is the former Director of Research and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Netherlands Cancer Institute/Anton van Leeuwenhoek Hospital.
Professor Berns has been a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1997 and a member of European Molecular Biology Organisation (EMBO). He is a member of a number of scientific advisory boards of academic institutes such as Curie Institute Paris, IMP Vienna, WEHI Melbourne, IGBMC Strasbourg, Max Planck Munich, Danish Cancer Centre, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and European Institute of Oncology in Milan. He succeeded Christiane Nuesslein-Volhard as Secretary General of EMBO in 2010, until the end of 2012. Until 2010 Professor Berns was Vice Chair of the EMBO Council and colleague of Sir Tim Hunt (Chair of the EMBO Council and a Cancer Research UK Scientist) and Dr Harold Varmus (associate member of EMBO, a Member and both a former Trustee of Cancer Research UK and a member of the Research Strategy Committee (RSC)).
In 2008 Professor Berns was admitted as a Member of the Charity and became a non-Trustee member of the RSC. Prior to this he was a member of the Scientific Advisory Boards of both the Beatson Institute for Cancer Research and of the Cambridge Research Institute.
Professor Sir Adrian Bird, CBE FRS FRSE
Appointed in 2010, Professor Bird is chairman of the Research Strategy Committee. He retired as Deputy Chairman of the Wellcome Trust on 31 October 2010, having been appointed a Governor in October 2000, and Deputy Chairman in April 2007.
He has held the Buchanan Chair of Genetics at the University of Edinburgh since 1990, and is Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell Biology at the University. His research interests are the structure and function of the mammalian genome and in particular the role of DNA methylation.
Professor Bird was a member of the Science Planning Committee for The Francis Crick Institute, a collaboration between Cancer Research UK, the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, University College London, Imperial College London and King's College London. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal ‘Molecular Cell’.
Awards include the 1999 Louis-Jeantet Prize for Medicine and the 2008 Charles Léopold Mayer Prize of the French Academy of Sciences. He is a Trustee of the Kirkhouse Trust and of the Rett Syndrome Research Trust.
Professor Bird was awarded a knighthood in the 2014 New Year’s Honours list.
Appointed 2015. Carolyn has extensive marketing and commercial experience from her executive career with Tesco, where her roles included Group Brand Director, UK Marketing Director, and Chief Operating Officer for Tesco.com.
She is now a non-executive Director with Legal & General Group PLC, Marston’s PLC, and The Mentoring Foundation. In addition she works as an independent advisor advising on business and marketing strategy. Carolyn graduated from Cambridge University before joining Tesco, where she led many key innovations such as the Clubcard loyalty scheme, the ‘Every Little Helps’ service campaign and the grocery home delivery business. Carolyn has also been a Trustee for the DrinkAware Trust.
Catherine Brown LLB (Hons)
Appointed 2015. Catherine is the Group Strategy Director of Lloyds Banking Group. She had broad experience in strategy and organisational change, having previously been Executive Director HR, of the Bank of England, and Chief Operating Officer of Apax Partners.
Catherine is a Trustee of Blue Cross, and chairman of The Plastic Economy, a manufacturer of low cost prosthetic limbs from recycled plastic. She also has charity projects across the Himalayan regions. Catherine is also a non executive board member of the Cabinet Office.
She has a law degree and a bachelor of commerce. She began her career in banking, working extensively in emerging economies before joining McKinsey, and subsequently running her own management consultancy for five years before moving into private equity at Apax Partners.
Dr Adrian Crellin MA FRCR FRCP
Appointed in 2012. Specialising in radiotherapy Dr Crellin is a consultant Clinical Oncologist. He was recently Vice-President of the Royal College of Radiologists and Dean of the Faculty of Clinical Oncology and is currently Chair of the NHS Radiotherapy Clinical Reference Group and the Department of Health's National Clinical Lead on Proton Beam Therapy. This is a new radiotherapy treatment which targets cancer tumours more accurately while causing less damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
In December 2011, the Government announced plans to introduce proton beam therapy for cancer patients in England. Dr Crellin's research expertise includes clinical trials and new treatments for pancreatic and oesophageal cancer, both priorities for Cancer Research UK. He studied medicine at the University of Cambridge and completed his medical training at three London Hospitals: St Bartholomew's, The Middlesex and Mount Vernon. He is a former Clinical Director at the St James' Institute of Oncology in Leeds.
Professor Stephen T Holgate CBE FMedSci
Appointed in 2014. Professor Holgate is Medical Research Council Clinical Professor of Immunopharmacology at the Faculty of Medicine in Southampton.
Over 35 years he has studied asthma and related illnesses using a range of scientific approaches including epidemiology, pathology and immunology, pharmacology, experimental medicine and genetics with a strong translational emphasis.
Professor Holgate advises the UK Government and EU on issues relating to Medical Research and Air Pollution and Chemical Hazards. He is Chair of the Research Excellence Framework 2014 Main Panel for Medicine, Health and Life Sciences for assessing research quality and impact in all UK Universities. He is Chair of the Science Council of the European Respiratory Society. He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 Queen’s New Year’s Honours.
Professor Jonathan K C Knowles
Appointed in 2011, Professor Knowles, former Head of Group Research and Member of the Executive Committee at Roche up to 2009, is a global opinion leader in personalised medicine.
Professor Knowles was the chairman of the Corporate Governance Committee and a member of the Board at Genentech for the last 12 years as well as a member of the Chugai Pharmaceuticals Board for seven years. He is Executive Chairman of Immunocore Limited and Adaptimmune Limited. Professor Knowles holds a Distinguished Professorship in Personalised Health Care at FIMM (Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland) at the University of Helsinki, is a visiting chair at the University of Oxford, holds a visiting Professorship at Pembroke College, Cambridge and is Professor Emeritus at EPFL Lausanne.
At the beginning of 2010, Professor Knowles joined the Board of Caris Life Sciences, an international cutting edge molecular diagnostics company based in Irving, Texas. From May 2010 to October 2011 Professor Knowles also assumed the role of Caris’ Chief Scientific Officer. He received a first class honours degree in Molecular Genetics from the University of East Anglia. He received his PhD in Genetics of Mitochondria with Professor G. H. Beale FRS from the University of Edinburgh.
Appointed in 2014. David is a chartered accountant and a non-executive Director and Chairman of the Audit Committees of Premier Oil plc and Drax Group plc, a non-executive Director and Chairman of the Remuneration Committee of HellermannTyton plc, and Deputy Chairman of the Governors of the University of the Arts London.
He spent almost 30 years as a Partner at Ernst & Young, and served as the lead audit Partner for numerous FTSE 100 companies during his career at the firm, and was also a member of the firm’s governing council for 15 years. He was Deputy Chairman of the Financial Reporting Review Panel from 2008 to 2012 and has served on a number of national and international professional bodies relating to financial reporting and the accountancy profession.
Andrew Palmer FCA (Treasurer)
Appointed in 2014, Andrew was formerly Group Finance Director of Legal & General plc where he had also held a number of financial and operational roles in the asset management, insurance and international businesses.
Until April 2013 Andrew had been Senior Independent Director of SEGRO, the Industrial REIT. He is a non-Executive Director and Chair of the Audit Committee at both Direct Line Insurance Group plc and Royal London Group plc. Andrew is also a panel member of the Financial Reporting Review Panel of the Financial Reporting Council and is a Trustee and Director of the Royal School of Needlework. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
Professor Sir Bruce Ponder FRCP FMedSci FRS
Appointed 2015. Bruce Ponder is Emeritus Professor of Oncology at Cambridge and a Senior Group Leader in the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute. He was formerly Li Ka Shing Professor of Oncology, Founding Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute and of the Cambridge Cancer Centre, and co-Director of both the Hutchison/MRC Research Centre and of the Strangeways Research Laboratories for Genetic Epidemiology.
Bruce Ponder trained in internal medicine in London, and then did a PhD at ICRF (now the London Research Institute) on the structure of chromatin. He trained in Medical Oncology at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University.
Over the past 20 years he has led the development of a new laboratory and clinical centre for cancer research in Cambridge. Milestones have been the establishment of the Strangeways Laboratories for Genetic Epidemiology in 1997, the Hutchison/MRC Research Centre in 2001, the CRUK Cambridge Institute in 2007, and the designation of Cambridge as a CRUK Major Cancer Centre in 2015. He was knighted in 2008 for ”services to medicine”.
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