Chief Executive and Executive Board

Michelle Mitchell OBE

Chief Executive Officer

Michelle Mitchell OBE joined November 2018. She is responsible for the overall leadership and management of CRUK, the world’s leading charitable funder of research.

Michelle is a senior voluntary sector leader who has transformed a number of not-for-profit organisations to better their purpose and global impact. She has a successful track record of delivering long term value, collaboration and innovation. She believes that by working together, and building the strongest possible team, we will beat cancer together. She is a member of the National Cancer Board.

Before joining Cancer Research UK, Michelle was CEO of the MS Society for five years and a founding member of the Progressive MS Alliance: a global scientific and research joint venture and launched the STOP MS £100m appeal. Prior to that, she was Director General at Age UK, the UK’s largest older people’s charity where she worked for nearly a decade and was at the forefront of national debates on health, care and welfare.

Michelle has extensive non-executive experience, which has included NED at NHS England, which sets the priorities and direction for the NHS in England and a Trustee of the King’s Fund, a leading health policy think-tank.

Michelle has a BA in Economics, an MA in Politics and Public Administration and an International Executive Diploma from INSEAD.

Michelle was awarded an OBE in 2015 for services to the charity sector.


Rita Akushie

CFO and Executive Director, Corporate Resources

Rita was appointed CFO in January 2019. She is an accomplished senior finance and commercial leader having developed and led large finance and corporate support teams. Rita first started working in auditing in 1990 as a trainee chartered accountant. She then left public practice and spent the last 24 years of her career with social housing organisations. Immediately prior to joining CRUK she was interim CFO at Sovereign, one of the UK's largest housing associations with over 66,000 properties, £400m turnover and assets of £4bn.

Previously, Rita worked as CFO at Thames Valley Housing Association. She also spent 13 years with Newlon Group, where she was Deputy Chief Executive and Group Finance Director prior to joining TVH.

Rita has held Executive Finance Director / CFO roles since 1999 and her experience includes corporate funding strategy and implementation and business planning. She has also led on strategic matters including mergers, acquisitions, growth, diversification and change management. In addition to finance, she has held executive responsibility for corporate services, technology, business improvement, governance, risk management and procurement.

Rita holds a degree in Economics and French and is a Fellow of both the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales) and of the Association of Chartered Accountants.

Rita also holds a non-executive role with HICL Infrastructure plc.


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.


Philip Almond

Executive Director, Fundraising and Marketing

Phil joined Cancer Research UK in December 2019 and leads the Charity's Fundraising and Marketing teams, working with our supporters, donors and staff to raise the funds which will help us beat cancer sooner.

Prior to joining CRUK he was Chief Marketing Officer at the BBC and before that had a long career at Diageo, where among other roles he led the company's UK consumer and customer marketing teams, and the Baileys and Smirnoff brands globally.

Phil and his team are responsible for the brand, communications and revenue generation to allow the Charity to meet its ambitious goals.

Phil has a Masters in English from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from the London Business School.


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 Grant

Executive Director, Strategy and International Partnerships

Nick's responsibilities include development of the organisation's corporate strategy and building the organisation's international network, working with partners around the world. He has previously held the role of Interim Executive Director of Policy and Information and Director of Strategy and has been a member of the Executive Board since 2015.

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.


Tiffany Hall BSc

Chief Information Officer

Tiffany was appointed as Chief Information Officer in July 2017. She is responsible for setting and delivering the overall CRUK technology strategy to maximise the value that technology can bring to the Charity in support of its aims. Tiffany was awarded Chief Information Officer of the Year at the 2019 Women in IT Awards - the world's largest technology diversity event.

Prior to joining CRUK, Tiffany worked at the BBC for over 20 years in a range of technology leadership roles across the enterprise IT and broadcast engineering spectrum, including that of CIO. Her earlier career was spent in IT roles with Shell UK. She has been very much engaged in the UK digital skills agenda, in an advisory capacity with the Tech Partnership, as a STEM ambassador and by working with DCMS on the Tech Talent Charter around the challenges of diversity in UK tech roles. She also holds a non-executive role as Chair of Ada, the National College for Digital Skills. Tiffany has a BSc in Maths with Computing from Durham University.


Professor Charles Swanton FRCP PhD FMedSci FRS

Chief Clinician

Charles was appointed Chief Clinician for Cancer Research UK in October 2017. 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.

Charles completed his MDPhD in 1999 at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund Laboratories and Cancer Research UK clinician/scientist medical oncology training in 2008.  He combines his laboratory research at the Francis Crick Institute with clinical duties at UCLH and as director of the CRUK Lung Cancer Centre, focussed on how tumours evolve over space and time. Charles has helped to define the branched evolutionary histories of solid tumours, processes that drive cancer cell-to-cell variation in the form of new cancer mutations or chromosomal instabilities, and the impact of such cancer diversity on effective immune surveillance and clinical outcome.

Charles was made Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in April 2011, appointed Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015, Napier Professor in Cancer by the Royal Society in 2016, appointed Cancer Research UK’s Chief Clinician in 2017, and elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 2018.

Charles was awarded the Stand up to Cancer Translational Cancer Research Prize (2015), Glaxo Smithkline Biochemical Society Prize (2016), San Salvatore prize for Cancer Research (2017), the Ellison-Cliffe Medal, Royal Society of Medicine (2017), recipient of the Gordon Hamilton Fairley Medal (2018), the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Centre Kraft Prize for Excellence in Cancer Research (2018), the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) Paul A. Bunn Scientific Award for achievements in lung cancer (2018), and the ESMO Translation Award (2019).


Professor Karen Vousden CBE FRS FRSE FMedSci 

Chief Scientist

Karen was appointed Chief Scientist of Cancer Research UK in July 2016. She provides scientific leadership for the activities and ambitions of Cancer Research UK. Her research is focused on understanding how changes in metabolism can influence cancer development.

Karen received her Ph.D. in Genetics from the University of London. She was Chief of the Regulation of Cell Growth Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute in the US before returning to the UK to become Director of the CRUK Beatson Institute in 2002. On taking up the role of Chief Scientist, Karen moved her research group to the Francis Crick Institute in London. She holds honorary Professorial positions at the Institute of Cancer Research, Imperial College and Queen Mary University, London and honorary DScs from the Institute of Cancer Research, the University of Strathclyde and Queen Mary University. She is also an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Gla). She has been elected to EMBO, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society, the European Academy of Cancer Sciences, the Academia Europaea, the American Association of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the AACR Academy and she is a Foreign Member of the National Academy of Sciences. Karen’s awards include the Tenovus Gold Medal, the Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins Medal, the ECDO Lifetime Achievement Award, the CDD Award, the STS Honorary Medal, the Mike Price Gold Medal, the Lombroso Award and the Royal Society of Edinburgh Gold Medal. She was awarded a CBE in 2010.


Sarah Woolnough BSc MSc

Executive Director, Policy and Information

Sarah Woolnough is Executive Director of Policy and Information at Cancer Research UK. She was appointed to the Board in 2012 and has responsibility for communications, public affairs, advocacy and campaigning, patient engagement and involvement, health and cancer information and our 'About Cancer' award winning patient information website, nurse helpline and patient forum.

Sarah has a background in government, policy development and influencing, having worked for two Members of Parliament, in the civil service and for a national membership organisation. Sarah was seconded to the Department of Health in 2011 to write the National Cancer Strategy alongside Professor Sir Mike Richards, then National Cancer Director. Sarah is a trustee of the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) and MQ: Supporting Mental Health. She is a previous trustee of the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC), Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and Bliss, the special care baby charity. Sarah currently sits on a raft of national level working groups including the National Screening Advisory Group, the Public Health England Cancer Board, the National Prevention Board and the National Alcohol Advisory Board.

With a track record of successfully influencing Government and other stakeholders, Sarah has led national campaigns to introduce standardised ‘plain packaging’ for cigarettes, a new national strategy and funding deal for radiotherapy, and for updated cancer strategies in all nations of the UK. Sarah was recently voted the most effective charity sector communicator in the PR Week Power Book.


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