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Division of Clinical Studies

The Division of Clinical Studies carries out or coordinates high-quality trials and translational research at both an early phase – typically to test new targeted drugs – and a later stage. It overlaps with the Drug Development Unit, run jointly by The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, and houses the Cancer Research UK-funded ICR Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit (ICR-CTSU).

See Head of Division and Teams

Abiraterone, a drug used to treat advanced prostate cancer was discovered and developed at the ICR

Image: Abiraterone, a drug used to treat advanced prostate cancer was discovered and developed at the ICR

The division incorporates experts from medicine, paediatrics, haematology and surgery, along with statisticians and specialists in clinical trial design. Its multidisciplinary set-up allows it to develop clinical trial protocols for targeted drugs and technologies across multiple tumour types, in both adults and children.

The Drug Development Unit is one of the world’s leading centres for phase I trials in cancer, and treats around 300 patients each year. It aims to seamlessly bring together preclinical drug discovery, proof-of-principle phase I trials and tumour-specific evaluation of novel agents.

Many of these clinical trials are focused on molecularly targeted treatments, matched to the particular molecular features of a patient’s tumour. The eventual aim is to provide fully personalised medicine, tailored to exploit the specific weaknesses of a patient’s tumour at that point in time.

The conduct of the Pharmacodynamic Audit Trail (PhAT) is central to the studies run in this unit, which is also focused on developing novel biomarkers, triple signs and the optimal study of drug combinations.

Clinical trials

The ICR-CTSU is a research led, academic trials unit established in the 1980s. The main objective of the ICR-CTSU is to lead the design, conduct and analysis of multi-centre national and international randomised controlled clinical trials of cancer treatments which will directly influence routine clinical practice within the NHS and worldwide.

Its trials form an important part of the national portfolio of randomised trials in breast cancer, urological cancers, head and neck cancers and radiotherapy techniques. It is also increasingly involved in exploratory and adaptive phase II targeted treatment trials and trials in rarer tumour groups.

Researchers in the Division of Clinical Studies were recently closely involved in the development of abiraterone, which has now been approved for use in the NHS for men with advanced prostate cancer. As well as developing new treatments, the division also conduct trials in which biomarkers are used to identify and target specific cancer types.

Members of Faculty are joint appointed with the divisions of Cancer Biology, Cancer Therapeutics or Radiology and Imaging to ensure scientific and technical developments are rapidly taken through to the clinic. This division is also totally committed to the training of the next generation of clinician-scientists and statisticians.

Head of Division

Professor Johann de Bono

Professor Johann de Bono

Regius Professor of Cancer Research

Professor Johann de Bono is Head of the Division of Clinical Studies and an international expert in the development of molecularly targeted cancer therapies against adult cancers. He runs one of the world’s largest phase I clinical trials units for cancer and has also led phase III trials of the prostate cancer drugs abiraterone and cabazitaxel.

ORCID 0000-0002-2034-595X

Deputy Head of Division

Professor Judith Bliss

Professor Judith Bliss

Professor of Clinical Trials

Professor Judith Bliss is investigating how best to personalise breast cancer treatment for individual patients. She is a member of several national and international research groups, and was recently appointed Vice-Chair of the UK Breast Intergroup.

0208 722 4297/4013 ORCID 0000-0001-7957-7424

Research teams

Cancer Biomarkers

Team leader: Professor Johann de Bono

Professor Johann de Bono’s team conducts biomarker-driven clinical and translational research to accelerate the development of novel cancer therapies and improve understanding of cancer biology, drug sensitivity and resistance.

Genomic Analysis – Clinical Trials

Team leader: Dr Maggie Cheang

Dr Maggie Cheang’s multidisciplinary team of statistical, computational and translational scientists analyses large datasets generated from bio-specimens collected in clinical trials to study the underlying biology of tumours.

Gynaecological Cancers (Systemic Therapy and Clinical Trials)

Team leader: Dr Susana Banerjee

Dr Susana Banerjee's team develops and delivers national and international phase I–III clinical trials for patients with gynaecological cancers and aims to increase the understanding of the biology of these diseases.

Gynaecological Oncology Surgery

Team leader: Mr Thomas Ind

Dr Thomas Ind’s team includes a group of highly motivated gynaecological oncology surgeons keen to further the science of gynaecological oncology surgery.

ICR-CTSU Breast and Rare Cancers

Team leader: Professor Judith Bliss

Professor Judith Bliss’ team is part of the Cancer Research UK funded Clinical Trials and Statistics Unit (ICR-CTSU) and carries out clinical trials for the treatment of early and late-stage breast cancer and melanomas.

ICR-CTSU Urology and Head and Neck trials

Team leader: Professor Emma Hall

Professor Emma Hall’s Urology and Head and Neck Trials Team carries out clinical trials for the treatment of prostate, testicular, bladder, and head and neck cancers.

Medicine (de Bono) Drug Development Unit

Team leader: Professor Johann de Bono

Professor Johann de Bono's Drug Development Unit is responsible for early clinical trials of novel cancer drugs.

Melanoma and Kidney Cancer

Team leaders: Professor James Larkin
Dr Samra Turajlic

The Melanoma and Kidney Cancer Team works to conceive and conduct clinical trials to increase understanding of the biology of these diseases and develop better treatments for them.

Paediatric Solid Tumour Biology and Therapeutics

Team leader: Professor Louis Chesler

Dr Louis Chesler’s Paediatric Tumour Biology Team is investigating the genetic causes for the childhood cancers, neuroblastoma, medulloblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma.

Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group

Team leader: Professor Johann de Bono

Professor Johann de Bono’s Prostate Cancer Targeted Therapy Group investigates new molecular targeted therapies to improve the treatment of patients with advanced prostate cancer.

Sarcoma Clinical Trials (R Jones)

Team leader: Dr Robin Jones

The Sarcoma Clinical Trials Team conducts phase I, II and III sarcoma clinical trials with an emphasis on translational studies and immunotherapy.

Sarcoma Clinical Trials in Children and Young People

Team leader: Dr Julia Chisholm

Sarcoma Clinical Trials in Children and Young People is a clinically orientated team that delivers clinical trials in soft tissue sarcoma in collaboration with the Sarcoma Molecular Pathology Team and the Sarcoma Clinical Trials Team.

Thoracic Oncology

Team leader: Professor Sanjay Popat

The Thoracic Oncology team conducts clinical trials to identify and develop new drugs for patients with thoracic malignancies, to identify biomarkers of those most likely to benefit, and translational studies to better understand how these cancers develop.

Translational Therapeutics

Team leader: Dr Adam Sharp

Dr Adam Sharps' Team searches for novel therapeutic strategies to prevent the development of treatment resistance and to overcome the progression of cancer.