Lifetime Achievement Award for Professor Alan Ashworth

In collaboration with the Press Association

Leading scientist Professor Alan Ashworth has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) in recognition of his work to improve the care of people with breast cancer.

Professor Ashworth, who is part-funded by Cancer Research UK, joined The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in 1986 and became director of the institute's Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Centre in 1999.

The scientist was presented with his award at the European cancer congress in Berlin, along with a EUR 50,000 research grant. He was also invited to deliver a lecture about the scientific advances he has contributed to throughout his career.

One of these was the discovery of the breast cancer gene BRCA2, which was identified in 1995. The gene is now used to identify women who are at high risk of developing the disease.

Ten years later, Professor Ashworth's team discovered that drugs called PARP inhibitors are capable of targeting cancer cells that carry faulty versions of BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Professor Ashworth was born in Lancashire in 1960 and completed his BSc in Chemistry and Biochemistry at Imperial College, London, and his PhD in Biochemistry at University College, London.

Commenting on his award, Professor Ashworth said: "I am delighted and honoured to receive this award which is testament to all the hard work of my colleagues over the years.

"Our research has always been focused in areas that can be quickly translated into new treatments that can hopefully make a real difference to breast cancer patients."

The ESMO Lifetime Achievement Award is given once a year to a scientist who has made outstanding progress in developing cancer treatments.

Recipients are chosen from over 5,000 society members in more than 100 countries.

Dr Peter Sneddon, Cancer Research UK's executive director of clinical and translational research funding, said: "We are delighted that Professor Ashworth has won this well deserved award.

"Cancer Research UK has funded Professor Ashworth's work since 1996. During this period he has championed the quest to find new treatments which address the genetic weakness that drive a range of cancers and he has made great progress in doing so. It is exciting to see that patients are beginning to gain from this new generation of treatment as they advance through clinical trials."