Centre for Drug Development: Our leadership team and capabilities
We have the capabilities and infrastructure needed to demonstrate clinical potential
With a team of over 120 scientists and operational staff, our expertise spans the full breadth of drug development and includes:
Preclinical and medical sciences
Our trials are conducted to international quality standards (ICH GCP) and European regulations. Safety on our clinical studies is overseen by our in-house medical team and an external panel of experts on our Protocol Safety and Review Board.
We work extensively with CRUK's broader research infrastructure and community, and have access to a large network of clinical oncologists who enable our clinical trials.
The Formulation Unit is our pharmaceutical development facility for small molecule drugs. The Formulation Unit's work spans analytical method and formulation development, stability studies and GMP manufacture of IMPs.
Staff at the unit can also audit external facilities, as well as import (including from outside EU) and distribute clinical trial supplies.
The unit was established at Strathclyde University in 1983, and moved to a new state-of-the-art facility in 2008, with 20 staff including qualified persons, production managers, quality assurance analysts, formulation scientists, regulatory specialists and manufacturing and analytical technicians.
In 2016, Medidata Solutions visited our offices and facilities for Forbes magazine. Find out more about our capabilities and infrastructure in their short video.
We have been impressed by the manufacturing capabilities available to the CRUK Centre for Drug Development. This has helped us tremendously in developing the production processes for the programme.
The Cancer Research UK Network
CRUK is unique in the therapeutic innovation space because we are able to build on our extensive portfolio of basic science and population research, as well as our network of clinical academic researchers and infrastructure.
Experimental Cancer Medicine Centres
Our network of translational and clinical infrastructure ensures that the results of our research benefit patients sooner. The Experimental Cancer Medicines Centres (ECMC) network is made up of 18 centres across the UK. Comprising the UK’s foremost early phase oncology expertise, they are centres of excellence in translational research.
Wider Cancer Research UK network
Each year we fund nearly £200 million of world-leading curiosity-driven research at four of our own state-of-the-art research Institutes, and at universities around the UK. Alongside these, we have a suite of specialist academic drug discovery facilities perfectly positioned to take advantage of this pipeline of breakthrough science.
We're looking to partner with leading pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies and academic scientists who require resource, capabilities or expertise to develop new agents for the treatment of cancer.
Our team of outstanding drug development professionals are responsible for our day-to-day business operations and our strategic development.
The CDD has a team of over 100 drug development and operational staff, the majority based at the CRUK head office in London. We have similar functional teams to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, enabling us to take promising discoveries from exploratory and pre-clinical phases through to sponsorship and into early phase clinical trials.
Dr Nigel Blackburn, Director of Drug Development
Nigel leads the CDD and is responsible for CRUK's early drug development programmes, which include pre-clinical development and early clinical testing of novel anti-cancer agents. Nigel and his team at the CDD are currently managing the early development of over 20 novel agents.
Nigel joined CRUK in May 2009 as Director of Drug Development, having previously held a variety of senior leadership roles in the pharma and biotech industries. He has experience of all phases of clinical drug development and a broad range of therapeutic modalities and disease areas. Nigel holds a biochemistry degree and PhD in physiology.
Dr Robert Williams, Chief Drug Development Scientist
Rob leads our pre-clinical and medical science teams. Rob’s teams design and deliver preclinical studies underpinning regulatory applications, and together with investigators in the ECMC network, lead on the design of clinical study protocols.
Rob joined CRUK in 2004, having previously held research leadership positions in a number of therapeutic areas with both biotech and pharma companies. Rob was Chairman of the Society for Medicines Research from 2007-2008 and is a regular speaker at international drug discovery and development conferences.
Dr Sarah Halford, Head of Medical Sciences
Sarah is a medical oncologist, who heads up our team of experienced medics, all of whom have been working in oncology drug development for a number of years. She is also an Honorary Consultant in medical oncology at Barts and the London School of Medicine.
Following her undergraduate studies at Oxford University, Sarah completed her clinical training in London. Prior to joining CRUK in 2007, Sarah completed her CCT in medical oncology at University College London Hospital and her PhD in cancer genetics, as a CRUK-funded translational clinical research fellow. She is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and an associate member of the faculty of pharmaceutical medicine.
Dr Stephen Nabarro, Head of Clinical Operations and Data Management
Steve and his team are responsible for building and managing the clinical trial databases for all CDD sponsored trials, as well as monitoring and supporting the delivery of the trials in accordance with ICH GCP guidelines and UK regulatory requirements.
Steve joined CRUK in 2007, having previously completed a PhD at University College London in paediatric cancer immunotherapy, which was followed by a post-doctoral fellowship at the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology
Dr Raffaella Mangano, Head of Study, Project and Portfolio Management
Raffaella leads a team of project leaders, clinical study managers and portfolio managers accountable for delivery of the CDD portfolio.
Raffaella joined CDD in 2013 and has 20 years’ experience in drug discovery and drug development project and portfolio management in the charity and biotechnology sector. Before joining CDD she worked at Cellzome, a biotechnology company that is now part of GSK. She has a PhD and post-doctoral experience in Molecular and Cell Biology from international research institutions including University of Palermo, Italy, Imperial Cancer Research Fund, UK and European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Germany.
Amber Holmes, Head of Quality, Regulatory and Pharmacovigilance
Amber heads up the Quality, Regulatory Affairs, Pharmacovigilance and Medical Writing teams who collectively ensure that all trials sponsored by CDD are run to the highest quality and remain compliant with safety and regulatory standards.
Amber has broad experience in drug development having worked in a number of operational leadership roles across Phase I-IV clinical trials within CRO, Pharmaceutical and Non-profit organisations. In addition to a batchelor's degree from University College London, Amber holds qualifications in Clinical Data Management and Portfolio Management, combined with hands-on experience leading process change initiatives and adoption of new technology solutions.
The CRUK Centre for Drug Development is an outstanding and highly professional team who are delivering internationally leading and vital clinical research that is impacting cancer patients.
Professor Johann De Bono, Regius Professor and Head of the Division of Clinical Studies at The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden hospital
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