Grand Challenge Advisory Panel
We’ve gathered an international Grand Challenge Advisory Panel together to give us an independent, expert view on the Grand Challenge scheme. In a testament to the importance of what we’re planning to do, our panel members are amongst the world’s most distinguished scientists, all with remarkable track records in research innovation and policy development.
Our Grand Panel have now set our challenges, assessed all the applications and shortlisted nine teams. In autumn, they will assess the full submissions from which they will choose a final winner(s).
Professor Sir Adrian Bird, PhD, CBE, FRS, FRSE
Title: Buchanan Professor of Genetics
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Professor Sir Adrian Bird, PhD, CBE, FRS, FRSE is Buchanan Professor of Genetics at the University of Edinburgh, and is responsible for the fundamental discovery that DNA has a unique ‘epigenetic’ as well as genetic code, which is of crucial importance to health and disease, including many types of cancer. Professor Bird has won numerous scientific prizes for his work, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and was knighted in the 2014 New Years Honours List for services to science. He has served as Deputy Director and a Governor of the Wellcome Trust, and is currently a Trustee of Cancer Research UK.
Professor Suzanne Cory, AC, PhD, FAA, FRS
Title: Research Professor
Discipline: Molecular Genetics
Professor Suzanne Cory, AC, PhD, FAA, FRS is one of the world’s most eminent molecular biologists. An Australian, she was one of the founders of the field of ‘apoptosis’, the study of how cells are programmed to die. Her work showed that cell death is just as important to cancer as cell growth, and her insights continue to have enormous impact in the field today. Professor Cory is a past president of the Australian Academy of Science, and former Director of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne. Her many awards include the French decoration of Chevalier de l’Ordre de la Légion d’Honneur, and she has the notable distinction of having had a high school named in her honour.
Professor Dame Sally Davies, FMed Sci, DBE, FRS
Title: Chief Medical Officer
Organisation: Department of Health
Discipline: Haemotology, Medicine
Professor Dame Sally Davies, FMed Sci, DBE, FRS is currently the UK’s Chief Medical Officer. A clinician with an interest in blood disorders, particularly sickle cell anaemia, Dame Sally was the driving force behind the creation of the UK National Institute for Health Research, the body that coordinates and represents all publicly-funded research within the UK National Health Service (NHS). She advises many organisations both in the UK and internationally on research strategy and evaluation, including the World Health Organisation, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, and Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Dame Sally’s drive and determination are legendary, and her willingness to question established wisdom will be invaluable to the Grand Challenge Panel.
Professor Edward E. Harlow Jnr, PhD
Title: Professor of Biological Chemistry and Pharmacology
Organisation: Harvard Medical School
Discipline: Molecular Biology, Oncology
Professor Edward E. Harlow Jnr, PhD is Professor of Biological Chemistry and Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. In the 1980s, Professor Harlow and his colleagues, including Sir David Lane, a fellow Grand Challenge panellist, were responsible for a major advance in cancer biology, when they discovered that molecules that protect our cells from cancerous changes – called tumour suppressors – are switched off by other molecules that promote the disease. Professor Harlow has been awarded the American Cancer Society’s Medal of Honor, and has been elected to both the US National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. He was a special advisor to the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) Director Harold Varmus, and in that role, set up the NCI Provocative Questions initiative, designed to stimulate risky, early-stage cancer research in the US. He has a wealth of experience in both academia and industry, the latter as Chief Scientific Officer of Constellation Pharmaceuticals, and has sat on the Scientific Advisory Boards of numerous biotech companies.
Professor Tyler Jacks, PhD
Organisation: David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research
Professor Tyler Jacks, PhD is Director of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recognised as one of the world’s best multidisciplinary cancer institutes. Professor Jacks pioneered the use of gene-targeting technology to develop realistic models of cancer in mice , which have led to new strategies for cancer detection and treatment in patients. Amongst his many honours, Professor Jacks has won the Paul Marks Prize for Cancer Research, the AACR Outstanding Achievement award, and MIT’s Killian Award. He is a past president of the AACR, and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Dr Rick Klausner, M.D.
Title: Chief Medical Officer
Discipline: Cell and Molecular Biology
Dr Rick Klausner chairs the Grand Challenge Advisory Panel. He is currently the Chief Medical Officer of Illumina Inc, one of the companies driving the 21st century genomics revolution through its pioneering next generation sequencing technology. An award-winning molecular biologist, Dr Klausner made many important contributions to both immunology and cancer research before becoming Director of the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) in 1995. Subsequently, he served as Executive Director for Global Health at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he oversaw the Gates Grand Challenges in Global Health. He is a past President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, and is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Klausner brings to our panel a lifetime’s experience in fighting cancer, as a clinician, a scientist, an entrepreneur and a global policy maker.
Professor Sir David Lane, PhD FRS FRSE
Title: Chief Scientist
Organisation: Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
Discipline: Cancer Biology
Professor Sir David Lane, PhD FRS FRSE is one of the world’s most eminent cancer scientists. His discovery of the p53 protein in the 1970s revolutionised our understanding of how cells, including cancer cells, grow and divide. p53, dubbed ‘the Guardian of the Genome’, was the first tumour suppressor found within our cells, and we now know that p53 is faulty or inactivated in the majority of human cancers. Sir David has had a lifelong association with p53 research, and continues to be a leading figure in the field, in terms of both discovery research and drug development. Formerly Cancer Research UK’s Chief Scientist, Sir David is currently Chief Scientist of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and Scientific Director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. Knighted in 2000 for services to science, Sir David is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Dr Christopher P. Wild, PhD
Organisation: International Agency for Research on Cancer (WHO)
Discipline: Molecular Epidemiology
Dr Christopher P. Wild, PhD, a distinguished cancer epidemiologist, is the Director of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialised cancer agency of the World Health Organisation. IARC’s objective is to promote international collaboration in cancer research, and in his role as Director, Dr Wild has developed the Agency’s mission to understand the risks of cancer, and to mobilise the international community in a concerted prevention and early detection strategy, with particular reference to low and middle income countries. IARC is a pioneer in the global cancer effort, acting as a global reference for cancer information, and holding a unique biobank of 10 million cancer samples from around the world. Dr Wild’s experience in effective coordination of international efforts, coupled with his epidemiological expertise, will provide the panel with unique insights into the global cancer problem.
Professor Brian J. Druker, MD
Organisation: Oregon Health & Science University Knight Cancer Institute
Discipline: Cancer biology, medicine and translational research
Professor Brian J. Druker, MD is a true hero of the cancer field. He is responsible for a revolution in the treatment of cancer through his development of Gleevec, the first drug to target the genetic defects of a particular cancer while leaving healthy cells unharmed. Gleevec is now the treatment of choice for patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia, and has led the way for many more of the targeted drug therapies now in use in the clinic. Professor Druker heads the groundbreaking Knight Cancer Institute in Oregon, and is the recipient of some of science’s greatest honours, amongst them the Japan Prize, the Lasker-Debakey Clinical Medical Research Award and the Kettering Prize of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association of Physicians.
Professor Nic Jones
Organisation: Manchester Cancer Research
Professor Nic Jones is the Director of the Cancer Research UK Manchester Institute, a unique partnership between Cancer Research UK, The Christie NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester. He is also Director of the CRUK Manchester Major Centre. Professor Jones leads a research team at the CRUK Manchester Institute who are investigating networks of molecules in cells that can help drive cancer development and growth. Professor Jones’ group are focussing on one particular network that reacts to many different signals - like growth factors - and controls key processes in cells such as when to divide and to self-destruct.
In January 2016, Professor Jones stepped down from the position of CRUK Chief Scientist following five years in the role. During this time, he helped to shape the life-saving research we fund and translate it into new treatments for patients.
At Cancer Research UK, we believe that research intended to benefit patients can be made even better by involving patients and their carers. To ensure this valuable perspective to Grand Challenge, we’ve recruited a group of people affected by cancer who’ve participated in the workshops to help shape the scheme. They will continue to input their ideas and advice during the whole Grand Challenge process.
Helen Bulbeck‘s experience of cancer both as a patient and a carer led her to found brainstrust, a highly successful creative brain cancer charity with a UK wide footprint. Brainstrust aims to give help and advice to every brain cancer sufferer and their carers. This ranges from the first possible symptom, at the point of diagnosis, and beyond, through to survivorship and sadly, bereavement support. Through brainstrust, Helen listens to and talks with people daily who have a worldview of the current and best options, what the challenges are in living with cancer and where it is felt the gaps in research are. Helen sits on the NCRI Clinical Studies Group, and on the Clinical and Translational Radiotherapy Group (CTRad) to represent the patient community and provide a voice on its behalf. Her belief that we’re none of us as smart as all of us, and that therefore collaboration is vital, influences everything she does.
After his experience caring for close relatives who’d had a cancer diagnosis, Jim Elliott got involved in cancer research as a way of giving something back, and to find out more about the research that underpins all cancer treatment. He’s particularly interested in Grand Challenge due to its potential to focus attention on hard to answer questions that would be unlikely to be addressed otherwise. Jim has a broad range of skills and experiences that will allow him to bridge the gap between scientists and the public, and help frame the science in ways that will resonate with multiple audiences.
Jim has a number of public involvement roles related to cancer. He is a Cancer Research UK Public Involvement Coach, a member of Independent Cancer Patients’ Voice, a lay facilitator for Building Research Partnerships workshops, and a lay reviewer for the National Institute for Research with a particular focus on cancer. He has also been a member of a cancer patient and carer panel for an NHS trust.
Margaret Grayson was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, and became a patient advocate as a way of giving something back for her treatment – her surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, and hormone treatment were all determined by research. She sees her role as a Grand Challenge patient panel member as complementing the academic and scientific knowledge of researchers with the experience that she and others have of living with cancer; communicating this is important to ensure that the research will have patient benefit.
A native of Belfast, Margaret works extensively with cancer organisations as a patient and public information (PPI) representative. She chairs the Northern Ireland Cancer Research Consumer Forum, and also works with the Northern Ireland Cancer Trials Centre/Network and the National Cancer Research Institute, where she is a member of the PPI steering group. Margaret is the lay member on the Belfast Cancer Research UK Governance Board, sits on several trial management groups and is a co-applicant on a Health Technology Assessment trial. She’s also a member of Independent Cancer Patients Voice and is a Public Involvement Coach with Cancer Research UK
Terry Kavanagh was diagnosed with lung cancer over 26 years ago, and believes that the experience of living with cancer gives patients such as himself an invaluable expertise complementing that of researchers. For him, Grand Challenge will be a new way of looking at the disease from both perspectives.
Terry has a Diploma in Counselling and Psychotherapy, and is the resident counsellor at the Widnes and Runcorn Cancer Support Centre. He’s a patron of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, for whom he has also been a trustee, and chair of their Lung Cancer Patients’ Support Group. Terry is a patient representative for multiple organisations, including the Liverpool Regional Lung Cancer Alliance, the National Lung Cancer Spiral CT Screening Programme, and the Cheshire and Merseyside Network Psychological Support Group. He has given presentations on lung cancer from the patient’s perspective throughout the UK and in America, and has been a Lung Cancer Patient Representative at the American Association of Cancer Research Annual Conference, the largest meeting for cancer researchers in the world.
Peter Rainey’s personal experience of cancer made him decide that it made sense to help Cancer Research UK achieve their goal of beating cancer sooner, by becoming a patient representative. Having participated in the workshops leading up to the setting of the Grand Challenge questions, Peter’s been part of the process the whole way, and is looking forward to seeing how the Grand Challenge teams form and collaborate.
Peter has served on the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Board Sub-Group for Clinical and Translational Research and on the Advisory Group of one of the NCRI-funded research initiatives on supportive and palliative care. He currently chairs the NCRI Consumer Hub group. Additionally, Peter is a Trustee and Board member of the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, and a member of its Grant Funding Committee. His work for Cancer Research UK includes sitting on our Population Research Committee, and he is also a member of the Consumer Research Panel at our Clinical Trials Unit in Glasgow.
Stephen is the newest member of the Grand Challenge Patient Panel and is a very experienced patient representative having worked closely with Cancer Research UK and other organisations for many years. Stephen is particularly interested in the Grand Challenge programme as he feels it brings the community out of its comfort zone, challenging experts to work differently. He is excited by the prospect that Grand Challenge could unearth something that could fundamentally change the way we view cancer and remove the fear around a cancer diagnosis.
Amongst many other roles, Stephen is an involvement coach for Cancer Research UK, is chair of the Tenovus Research Advisory Group and is a member of the Welsh Cancer Bank Lay Liaison Ethics Group. Stephen is passionate, experienced and committed to patient involvement and we are excited to welcome him to our panel.