Professor Stan Kaye reflects on his award at the National Cancer Research Institute's Cancer Conference 2016 in Liverpool on 7 November 2016.
Professor Stan Kaye, one of The Institute of Cancer Research, London’s most eminent researchers, has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research Prize by Cancer Research UK.
He gained the award for his pioneering work in early-stage clinical trials and contribution to improving treatments for ovarian cancer.
Over his career Professor Kaye has been involved in the development of many life-extending cancer treatments, including olaparib for ovarian cancer, and capecitabine and docetaxel chemotherapies for a range of cancers.
The award will be presented to Professor Kaye — who is Emeritus Professor at the ICR — at this year’s National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool on Monday 7 November, after which he will deliver a plenary lecture.
Professor Kaye’s career began in the 1970s as a Cancer Research Campaign clinical research fellow at Charing Cross Hospital, London, where his research focused on understanding drug resistance.
In 1985 he became Head of the Department of Medical Oncology at the University of Glasgow where he established a clinical trials unit that housed state-of-the-art phase I clinical trials. And in 1986 he co-founded the Scottish Gynaecological Cancer Trials Group, which went on to conduct several key trials in ovarian cancer.
During this time he made important contributions to the development and approval of two widely used drugs, capecitabine and docetaxel. In addition, his work in ovarian cancer helped to lay the foundation for today’s increasing focus — set out in the ICR’s and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust’s joint research strategy — on the challenge of drug resistance.
He moved to the ICR and The Royal Marsden in 2000 where he established the Drug Development Unit — one of the largest and most successful phase I clinical trials units in the world.
Professor Kaye and his team were instrumental in setting up the first-in-man olaparib trial, as well as phase II trials in ovarian cancer. This work paved the way for major changes in the treatment of ovarian cancer, by using, for the first time, novel targeted drugs to treat women left vulnerable by mutations in their BRCA genes.
'A great honour'
Professor Stan Kaye, a Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden and an Emeritus Professor at the ICR, said: “It’s a great honour to be awarded this prize by Cancer Research UK. Over my career I’ve had the good fortune to work with superb colleagues, both in the laboratory and the clinic. I’ve also been fortunate enough to have known many inspiring cancer patients particularly with ovarian cancer, and they have been my motivation for developing new drugs and treatments.
“I’ve been privileged to work at a time when our understanding of the biology of cancer has opened up new avenues for treating the disease and it’s been extremely rewarding to play a part in taking innovative new treatments to patients.”
Professor Paul Workman, Chief Executive of the ICR, said: “I am absolutely delighted that Professor Stan Kaye has been chosen to receive this award. He has been a real pioneer in clinical trials of the new generation of precision medicines, with strong translational laboratory involvement. Stan’s innovative approach, leadership abilities and complete dedication to helping patients have really set him apart.
“Stan’s work on ovarian cancer has been particularly groundbreaking, bringing about new treatment options, and hope, for a truly devastating disease. Stan was instrumental in optimising the use of carboplatin and also in the phase I and II clinical trials of olaparib for ovarian cancer patients — leading to its becoming the first cancer drug to be approved that is directed against an inherited genetic mutation.
'A crucial role'
“Stan is an outstanding scientist and clinician, a wise and trusted adviser, a wonderful colleague and a team player. I cannot think of a more deserving winner. This award will be welcomed by a huge number of Stan’s trainees, colleagues and friends in the field.”
Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, said: “Professor Kaye is a thoroughly deserved winner of this award. He has played a crucial role in the development of many drugs which have changed the lives of thousands of cancer patients across the world. The award recognises outstanding researchers who have dedicated their lives to scientific endeavour and improving the outlook for people with cancer and Stan fulfils this completely.
“He has shown a lifelong commitment to early-stage clinical trials and has been a true pioneer in the field. The clinical trial unit he has created has given rise to a new generation of outstanding clinicians and scientists whom he has mentored and trained, inspiring them to find new ways to treat cancer.”