Biography and research overview
Dr Yap gained his BSc degree with First Class Honours in Immunology and Infectious Diseases at Imperial College London and was awarded the Huggett Memorial Prize. His BSc laboratory research involved an immunogenetics study into the human T-cell lymphotropic virus under the supervision of Professor Charles Bangham. He went on to attain a medical degree from Imperial College London, before completing general medical training in Oxford.
In 2005, Dr Yap joined the Royal Marsden Hospital where he undertook a Clinical Fellowship in the Phase I Drug Development Unit, before completing a PhD in Molecular Pharmacology in the Division of Cancer Therapeutics in the ICR under a Cancer Research UK Fellowship. His PhD laboratory research focused on the preclinical and clinical development of AKT and AGC kinase inhibitors, and development of associated biomarkers. Dr Yap completed his specialist training in medical oncology at the Royal Marsden Hospital and was awarded a National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Academic Clinical Lectureship in Medical Oncology. He was subsequently appointed as Consultant Medical Oncologist and NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Clinician Scientist jointly in the Phase I Drug Development Unit, Lung Cancer Unit and Cancer Biomarkers Laboratory at the Royal Marsden Hospital and the ICR.
His main research focuses on the first-in-human development of molecularly targeted agents and immunotherapies, and their acceleration through clinical studies using novel predictive and pharmacodynamic biomarkers. He is Principal Investigator for several clinical trials evaluating novel strategies for targeting the DNA damage response in cancer, such as PARP and ATR inhibitors, epigenetic targets such as EZH2, as well as the blockade of signalling pathways, with a focus on PI3K/AKT and MKNK pathway inhibitors. Dr Yap is Lead Investigator for the AKT inhibitor arm of the National Lung Matrix Trial, which is one of the largest precision medicine trials in any cancer globally.
Dr Yap leads immuno-oncology clinical and translational studies in thoracic malignancies and other solid tumours. He is the UK Chief Investigator for the CheckMate 331 Phase III trial in relapsed small cell lung cancer, the KEYNOTE-158 Phase II biomarker study in advanced solid tumours and novel immunotherapy combination phase I trials.
His laboratory interests include the development of tumours, circulating plasma DNA and circulating tumour cells as predictive biomarkers of response for novel immunotherapies and targeted agents in clinical trials. Dr Yap has received grants from the British Lung Foundation, Academy of Medical Sciences and Prostate Cancer Foundation to support his research into the use of tumour, circulating plasma DNA and circulating tumour cell specimens from patients to personalise treatment.
In the past, Dr Yap has been a recipient of the McElwain Prize from the UK Association of Cancer Physicians and the Young Investigator Award from the US Prostate Cancer Foundation. He has also received five ASCO Foundation merit awards, the AACR-AstraZeneca International Scholar Award, AACR-Pezcoller Foundation Scholar Award, as well as awards from the EORTC and ETOP. Dr Yap is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Hematology & Oncology and Current Problems in Cancer. He has published widely in peer-reviewed journals, including the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of Clinical Oncology, Science Translational Medicine and Nature Reviews Cancer.
Dr Yap is currently serving a three-year term on the ASCO Annual Meeting Scientific Program Committee (Developmental Therapeutics), as well as the Scientific Program Committees for the AACR Annual Meeting and AACR-NCI-EORTC Molecular Targets Conference. He is a member of the NCRI Lung Cancer Clinical Studies Group and EORTC Lung Cancer Group. He is a member of the EAPM Sub-Committee on Clinical Trials Framework and ESMO OncologyPRO Working Group. Dr Yap is Co-leader of the Molecular Biology Module on the ICR MSc Oncology Course and member of the UK ECMC Junior Investigator Network Group Steering Committee. He is also currently on the Faculty of the ECCO-AACR-EORTC-ESMO Workshop on Methods in Clinical Cancer Research.