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 achieve 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 Transformation Board and a member of the National Cancer Advisory Group.

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, including as a NED at NHS England, which sets the priorities and direction for the NHS in England and previously as a Trustee at 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 Drector, Corporate Resources

Rita was appointed CFO in January 2019. She has spent most of her career with large social housing organisations. She was most recently CFO at Thames Valley Housing Association, which is now part of Metropolitan Thames Valley, one of the UK’s largest housing associations with £410m turnover and assets of £4.6bn. Previously, Rita spent 13 years with Newlon Group, one of London’s biggest housing associations where she was Deputy Chief Executive and Group Finance Director.

Rita started her career in audit in 1990. She is an accomplished senior finance and commercial leader with extensive business change management experience as well as developing and leading large finance and corporate support teams. She is a chartered accountant and corporate treasurer and holds a degree in Economics and French.


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 Grant

Executive Director, International Partnerships

Acting Executive Director, Policy and Information (maternity cover for Sarah Woolnough)

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.


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. Tiffany has a BSc in Maths with Computing from Durham University.


Frances Milner

Executive Director, Philanthropy & Partnerships

Frances is the Executive Director of Philanthropy & Partnerships. 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. 


Professor Charles Swanton FRCP PhD FMedSci

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 focussed on biological mechanisms of cancer drug resistance. He was made Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in April 2011 and Chair in Personalised Cancer Medicine and Consultant Thoracic Medical Oncologist at UCL Hospitals in November 2011. He is the Chief Investigator of the CRUK TRACERx lung cancer evolution study and was awarded the Royal College of Physicians Goulstonian lecture and Graham Bull Prize for Clinical Sciences in 2013; Fellow of the European Academy of Cancer Sciences in 2013; and Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015. Charles was awarded the Jeremy Jass Prize in 2014; Stand up to Cancer Translational Cancer Research Prize in 2015; Glaxo Smithkline Biochemical Society Prize in recognition of distinguished research leading to new advances in medical science and the Ellison-Cliffe Medal and Lecture, Royal Society of Medicine in 2016. He was appointed Napier Professor in Cancer by the Royal Society in 2016.


Professor Karen Vousden CBE FRS FRSE FMedSci 

Chief Scientist

Karen was appointed as Chief Scientist of Cancer Research UK in July 2016, prior to this she was Director of the CRUK Beatson Institute in Glasgow. She 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 ofthe protein, and the potential ofamino acid limited diets to augment standard chemotherapeutic approaches to treatment. Her research group is based at the Francis Crick Institute in London.

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 N0 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 at the National Cancer Institute.

Karen has been elected as Fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Academy of Medical Sciences, EMBO, the European Academy of Sciences, the American Association of Cancer research and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She has also received honorary DScs from the Universities of London and Strathclyde and is an honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Glasgow). Karen’s awards include the Tenovus Gold Medal, the Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins Medal, the Royal Medal from the Royal Society of Edinburgh and she was made Commander of the British Empire for services to clinical science.


Sarah Woolnough BSc MSc (on maternity leave)

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.

Our Executive Boards Register of Interests is available upon request from the Company Secretary.

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